The New Convergence

Security integration has expanded to include Building Automation Systems

Smart Office Building: An executive arrives at a facility and swipes an access card at a building’s parking garage entry — while signals the elevator to call the proper floor, the executive’s office lights turn on, and the space is cooled or heated to the desired temperature. Cameras follow the executive from car to safe arrival at the inner office.

Personalized Service: A cancer treatment center issues patients RFID badges with data including patient name, medical records, doctor’s name, and personal preferences for temperature, music, video images and color while in a treatment room. When the patient returns, the access system notes the preferences on the badge, and the building systems respond by preparing a treatment room.

Consolidated Control: A retractable dome stadium can offer a single control room capable of monitoring and controlling more than 350 pieces of HVAC equipment, lighting for the public areas, playing field and parking lot, fire alarms, access control and a host of other security and building automation systems by using more than 2,500 points of data.


Energy Efficiency

The stadium above has become the first retractable roof stadium to become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified. There is growing pressure on facility managers to make their buildings more energy efficient.

In the United States, buildings consume 40 percent of all energy. In dense urban settings, commercial buildings can account for up to 75 percent of energy used and 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, it is critical that buildings operate more efficiently to help meet the country’s growing energy needs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money and create jobs. This is where security systems, playing a major role in a smart building, can help increase energy efficiency.


Convergence Cuts Costs

Another benefit that cannot be overlooked is the cost savings that result from building systems convergence. On new construction, avoiding unnecessary and redundant cabling for separate systems can save money.

The single point of control offered by convergence reduces staffing costs, and utility bills are often reduced. This type of project is also highly applicable to retrofit jobs on older facilities.

The end-result seems worth the effort, however, converging so many disparate systems is a major challenge that many architects and engineers are not yet accustomed to.

Security systems integrators are often not familiar with building automation systems and vice-versa; and often, a team of security and HVAC specialists, mechanical engineers and building systems experts would handle this type of advanced integration.

Today’s end-users are looking for one point of contact to handle all aspects of a project, so choosing an integrator with experience in both security and building automation might be a prudent step.


Starting Point

An important point to keep in mind before moving forward with a systems convergence plan is to involve an organization’s multiple stakeholders from the beginning of a project through its completion.

That will include employees and contractors, along with departments such as finance, human resources, legal and, of course, the IT staff.

Once finished, the project will enable any department or contractor to add new equipment and functionality to the infrastructure with ease.


Andre Greco is the director of sales, security & fire solutions, for Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls. He has been involved in the security integration business since 1989.