‘Future-proof’ buildings: Ready for a new energy world

Smarter energy grids with more renewable power, automated controls and electric cars will bring changes to the buildings we live and work in too. And the sooner our buildings can adapt to tomorrow’s energy environment, the smarter and more energy-efficient they — and we — can be.

That’s the premise behind a new suite of tools and products unveiled today by the smart-grid firm Echelon. Designed for building owners and professionals working with energy technologies, the new offerings are designed to help make buildings more “grid-aware” and ready to respond to a changing energy environment.

Built on Echelon’s existing energy-management platform, the new suite includes a guide for defining and building “grid-aware” buildings, an application that integrates current building automation standards, a royalty-free network operating system for energy management and grid awareness, a software and wizard toolkit for custom energy management solutions and a module for enabling smart-building networks.

The integration application provides a gateway that brings together two communications protocols for building automation and control networks: the industry-developed BACnet and Echelon’s LonWorks.

“The industry needs to move beyond the notion that LonWorks and BACnet are competing standards — they are both open standards that have complementary strengths and real-world buildings are hybrids of both,” said Varun Nagaraj, senior vice president of product marketing and management at Echelon.

The communications protocols enable automation and control of building systems for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, lighting, security and other activities.

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