IBECS: An Integrated Building Environmental Communications System--Its Not Your Fathers Network
The paper presents the technical design concept for a low-cost building communications network that will allow most building equipment loads, including individual light fixtures, operable window blinds, motors and environmental sensors, to be controlled and monitored from an existing Ethernet. IBECS (Integrated Building Environmental Communications System) is a practical networking system that will provide building managers with an unprecedented degree of control over most building electrical loads, allowing them to implement load shedding, real time pricing and aggregated building load strategies with confidence. At the same time, IBECS will let individual occupants exert appropriate control over their environmental conditions (light and, ultimately, heat), initially using a virtual control panel served from their web browser, and eventually through voice command. Recent developments in hardware and software have enabled this new networking concept. New manufacturing techniques can produce semiconductor devices that incorporate a microprocessor, unique IP address, controller, and simple LAN communications for $0.25/chip. The private sector is already hugely invested in software that makes appliances, peripherals and telecommunications devices addressable via the Internet (e.g., Sun Microsystems Jini technology - a software infrastructure for providing services on a network). Because it directly exploits recent developments in hardware and software that are far beyond the development capabilities of the building industry, IBECS could provide the infrastructure that, for the first time, truly integrates the operation of building equipment to improve both human and building performance.