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IoT Brings Plug-and-Play to Smart Building Solution


Today’s building management systems (BMS) don’t just improve energy utilization in office buildings—they can also help industrial tenants gain control over their complex infrastructure to operate more efficiently and sustainably.

Industrial users have different, more complicated needs than office users. For instance, cold chain storage facilities, automated packaging operations, and distribution centers all contain specialized equipment with unique energy requirements. Managing these valuable appliances and instruments requires greater vigilance than adjusting the lights and thermostats in a typical office building. For these businesses, gaining the ability to see and control their HVAC, power, and lighting systems—from anywhere, at all times—is critical to operational success.

Modern BMS applications can do that, but it becomes complicated when multiple industrial tenants occupy the same building. It gets even trickier when those tenants occupy varying amounts of space within a facility from one month to the next.

The need for industrial BMS is becoming more pointed as businesses demand better control over their environments and sustainability initiatives like the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) standards gain traction. Modern building automation solutions using open-source software can help, drawing on a large community of experts to tweak technologies so that they meet the unique requirements of highly specialized users. Building owners who can provide users discrete control over their energy estates stand to gain market share among desirable industrial tenants.

Modern building #automation solutions using open-source #software can help, drawing on a large community of experts to tweak #technologies so that they meet the unique requirements of highly specialized users. @TridiumInc via @insightdottech

Looking Under the Hood of Next-Gen Industrial Spaces

HelloParks, an Eastern European industrial real estate development company that operates four industrial parks with 380,000 square meters of building space, illustrates the complexities of energy management for multiple tenants. The buildings accommodate many heavy industrial use cases, from manufacturing to warehousing to distribution. As a result, the structures must be flexible in the utilities they provide and the services they support. And because HelloParks provides flexible leases, the company must be prepared to accommodate new tenants every few weeks, even though their BMS requirements are completely different from those of previous users occupying the same space.

That means HelloParks must equip its facilities with a sophisticated BMS allowing tenants to visualize and control all manner of building automation systems (BAS). The BMS must also be able to support many different types of infrastructure and use cases. To accomplish these goals, HelloParks worked with a local systems integrator to implement a solution.

The team selected the Tridium Niagara Framework®, a software automation solution developed by US-based automation provider Tridium, Inc. Niagara simplifies the integration of BAS like HVAC, lighting, power, and security with back-end enterprise applications, allowing users to analyze and act upon operational data using customizable visualization dashboards.

Niagara natively supports more than 250 protocols to streamline data ingestion and management for different types of BAS devices from a large number of manufacturers. The open-source solution gives manufacturing partners access to a community of more than 20,000 engineers who can develop protocols, templates, drivers, and other technologies that extend the platform for specific needs, says Tridium Senior Sales Manager Irek Pacula.

Once operational BAS data has been captured, Niagara users can view and manage infrastructure through a web-based portal providing insight into operational data flows. In the case of HelloParks, this multi-tenant portal makes data accessible to individual users without exposing the data of others. That gives the industrial real estate operator the flexibility to support a wide range of ever-changing BAS equipment and multiple environments under a single, unified BMS.

The Niagara platform also includes a flexible control engine containing a variety of predefined algorithms, as well as building blocks for creating new ones that even non-domain experts can understand. These algorithms can create custom logic sequences for functions like fault detection and diagnostics, data-based alarming, and other features empowering tenants like those of HelloParks to take control of their facilities. The data, the control engine, and resulting BAS reports can all be tailored to specific use cases via customizable dashboards.

Performance and Power Efficiency for Smart Building Solutions

While data insights can be viewed in the cloud, the action is happening at the edge. Niagara can be deployed as an agent on edge controllers like the Tridium JACE®, a rugged, compact, and easy-to-install hardware platform. Systems like this serve as primary protocol conversion gateways for communicating data and commands between BAS endpoints and the Niagara software.

When deeper insights are required or large facilities need to be managed—as with HelloParks—performance needs to scale efficiently. Tridium and its system integration partner helped HelloParks accomplish this with Intel® Core and Intel® Xeon® processor-based edge servers, which contain built-in features like processor virtualization to enabling scaling while ensuring data privacy and security.

“Going from one core to multicore brings so much benefit,” Pacula says. “Some customers just want a small but powerful installation running in a cabinet. Some have hyperscaler installations running on multiple different machines using Intel® Xeon® processors. To our software, it looks like a single large machine, but it is double-redundant and capable of supporting thousands of users and buildings.”

Full-Service Building Automation Through a Single Pane of Glass

The Tridium Niagara Framework allows HelloParks to navigate the complex dynamics of multi-tenant spaces by supporting ubiquitous connectivity, adaptable logic, customizable visualization, and scalable deployment solutions. With Niagara insights available to both HelloParks and its tenants, there are multiple stakeholders and a large set of “eyes” on resource utilization. Several of the company’s buildings have achieved a BREEAM rating of “outstanding,” a distinction attained by only 3% of buildings worldwide.

Still more is on the horizon for the intelligent BMS, as its extreme versatility can also incorporate business data. Today, HelloParks tenants pay a price per square meter, but tomorrow they will have the opportunity to tie billing and invoicing systems into their dashboards, enabling each tenant to pay for their specific utility consumption. Additional information, such as price per kWh, could enable the Niagara control engine to cycle resource utilization based on predefined cost thresholds.

With their ability to improve energy efficiency, increase sustainability, potentially reduce costs, and allow specialized tenants to manage everything through a single pane of glass, smart building solutions are ready to move beyond their traditional home in commercial office buildings to more complex environments. In fact, they already have.

This article was edited by Teresa Meek, Contributor for

About the Author

Brandon is a long-time contributor to going back to its days as Embedded Innovator, with more than a decade of high-tech journalism and media experience in previous roles as Editor-in-Chief of electronics engineering publication Embedded Computing Design, co-host of the Embedded Insiders podcast, and co-chair of live and virtual events such as Industrial IoT University at Sensors Expo and the IoT Device Security Conference. Brandon currently serves as marketing officer for electronic hardware standards organization, PICMG, where he helps evangelize the use of open standards-based technology. Brandon’s coverage focuses on artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things, cybersecurity, embedded processors, edge computing, prototyping kits, and safety-critical systems, but extends to any topic of interest to the electronic design community. Drop him a line at, DM him on Twitter @techielew, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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