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To Upgrade the Intelligence of an Existing Building


The Network Solutions division of Honeywell Control Systems Ltd. has recently moved in to a unit, named B4C, on an industrial estate in Bracknell. I have taken the opportunity to use this building as a guinea pig for the BIAM assessment developed within this document.

I will start by describing what B4C is to be used for, the facilities available within it and the problems so far encountered. The illustrations that I have included are meant as an aid to the reader in understanding the building generally and are not meant to be taken as accurate design drawings.

Next, I develop a Building Intelligence Assessment Method (BIAM) in the shape of a form which is filled in by the assessor. The results are used to guide the assessor as to the relative merits of various buildings with respect to their 'intelligence'. A couple of varying building examples are given for illustration.

This BIAM is then applied to B4C in its current state.

I then discuss ways to improve B4C, that are appropriate to the business, perfectly feasible and using current technologies.

On assumption that the building has been upgraded, I then apply the BIAM to the upgraded building and examine the results.

Description of B4C

B4C from the front B4C from the front

Use of the building:
  1. Engineer and external training in HVAC and IT.
  2. Workshop areas for testing IT equipment.
  3. Storage area for contract spares and newly arrived equipment to be checked.
  4. Administration centre for IT group.
  5. Network Monitoring Centre used for remote monitoring of customers sites.

The building is situated on the edge of Bracknell at the end of a cul-de-sac in an industrial estate. The centre of the town with it's railway and bus stations is about three miles away. Behind the building are fields and a wood. The particular building concerned is called B4C and forms part of a complex of buildings including B4A and B4B.

The building is 43m x 23m and has two floors. The first floor is where most of the staff have their offices, and the ground floor has the lecture rooms. See Appendix A for the floorplan of first floor.

The area allows a maximum of 67 people per floor (assuming 10m2 per person and 75% nett use of the area which is 900m2), however this reduces to 60 people when the meeting rooms and Network Management Centre (NMC) have been taken into account.

Description of Environmental controls.

There is one chiller located on the north side of the building. The York chiller has two condenser pumps for the refrigerant, one pump normally is operating, but under sufficient cooling load the other pump operates as well. The refrigerant is governed by the manufacturer and is currently CFC free.

Each floor has an Air Handling Unit (AHU). Each AHU has supply air fed from the west face of the building (top of the first floor on the same side as the allotments) and the air is extracted away via a vent to the north face (around the corner from the supply to avoid any re-circulating of stale air). The supply air is fed via single speed fans and bag filters, through ducts within the ceiling void of each floor, and is blown into the office space through diffusers.

The ground floor AHU has a heater battery, the hot water within the coil is fed from the ground floor boiler. The ground floor AHU also has a cold water DX coil, the chilled water within the coil being fed from the chiller located nearby, outside. There is no humidification for the first floor.

The first floor AHU just has a heater battery fed from the first floor boiler.

Low Temperature Hot Water (LTHW) for both floors is fed from 7.5KW electric hot water heaters located in the ladies toilets on each floor.

The first floor uses Fan Coil Units (FCU) for heating and cooling. Although the fans which blow air through the heating coil, cooling coil and the fins are electrically powered the controls are pneumatic. The FCUs are mainly located around the perimeter of the floor with one or two located within the ceiling void. The FCU has a cold water feed and a hot water feed, the control is a thermostat which is only accessible by taking off the front cover and turning the thermostat located at floor level inside the right hand panel.

Problems with B4C

It was evident that there was an extreme shortage of car parking space. In order to guarantee a parking space you need to arrive by 8:30am otherwise you could face parking up to a quarter of a mile up the road. I have sometimes seen over 40 cars parked dangerously on the roundabout, on double-yellow lines or on the road. As can be seen from the schematic, all three buildings, accommodating over 400 workers, share 221 parking spaces. Many of the occupants use company vehicles, and many drive their own cars to work.

One of the first things to notice as you enter the both floor-spaces, is that the bank of light switches bear no relation whatsoever to the lighting grid. In addition, partitions have been erected to mark two corridors down each long side of the floor-space. On the first floor, having the partitioned corridors compromised the benefit of daylight gained from the central atrium.

Most occupants feel too cold during the morning; yet too hot in the afternoon. This is the situation during summer, previous occupants have stated that the situation is worse in the winter, although we have yet to experience a winter in B4C. The current FCUs are not easy to control since the thermostats are hidden within the FCU casing and they were well out of calibration. The building services engineer, rather than being continually called out to make small adjustments to the internal thermostats, has turned off the boiler in summer so that no heating is available at all. The difficulty with this, is that individuals feel at the mercy of the office environment with no control whatsoever. People have taken to wearing jackets in the morning until the temperature has warmed up enough. The temperature then rises, on a hot day, and the AHU cannot handle the cooling load imposed upon it from the occupants and the solar gain from the windows.

Although there is some form of data cabling system in existence, it has been added to in bits and pieces over a period of time. The cabling is mostly of Category 3 standard (only capable of 10MHz bandwidth signalling) and is nearly eight years old, which means that its original 5 year applications and parts warranty has run out. The administration of the cabling is almost impossible with the label identifiers on the outlets not matching the patching frame.

There is an old chipboard floor in existence which is raised off the slab to give a 150mm floor void. The problem with the floor is that it has fixed 2m x 0.6m sections with only a central runway of removable boards for cable access (power and data). Cables needed for floor-boxes which lie off the centre runway have to be 'rodded' to their destination, and once in place the floor-boxes cannot be moved. In addition, the chipboard is damaged and starting to crumble in numerous places and is becoming more and more of a hazard for the occupants.

Informal inquiries made with the new occupants also highlighted the following complaints regarding the facility:
  • Bad locality for workers to amenities and transport. (Bus only twice a week into town giving only half an hour shopping).
  • There were no meeting rooms.
  • The eating facilities were over 100m away in B4B, which was inconvenient in bad weather.

Finally, whilst talking to previous residents of the building, they described the problem of smells from burning rubbish on the allotments which are situated along the back of B4C.

Developing the BIAM

I felt that the 'Intelligence rating' of a building would have to be dependant on a broad range of aspects so the BIAM form was split into these aspects and individual items within the areas could be scored.

The areas covered by the form are the following:
  • Location:It makes sense to have a particular building situated in such a way as to maximise convenience and minimise the need for transport. For instance, occupants travelling to and fro, delivery of materials and access to clients.
  • Building Management:The area that immediately springs to mind when talking of building intelligence. This forms the largest part of the form due to the range of technologies that it covers such as environmental control, Information Technology and flexibility of the building space.
  • Cost in Use:It is all very well having the latest technologies to improve the building environment, but what of the running costs, and ultimately the effect on the Life-cycle cost of the facility. This area of the form highlights how easy is the building is to maintain and service and how cost effective is it to make changes.
  • Health Issues:Most buildings are occupied by people and they need to be protected not only from the environment, but also the building itself. How safe is the building? Are the glue materials used likely to give of toxic fumes over time? Are the water systems safe from diseases such as Legionnaires? How good is the Fire and Life Systems?
  • Identity:Many buildings are built to make a statement about the occupier. This final section of the form can be used to ascertain the suitability of the facility in portraying the corporate image. Is the building identifiable? What are the aesthetics like of the inside and outside of the structure?

The first attempt at a BIAM rating involved producing a form which allowed the user to apply a weighting (1 to 3, 3 being most important) and a score (1 to 10, 10 being a good score) to each item in each area. This allowed the potential occupier to rate the importance of things such as 'parking facilities' or 'ease of maintenance' in relation to their own requirements. This weighting figure allows the requirements for a particular building to vary in importance dependant on the potential occupier. The person who decides this weighting factor would need to be somebody with good all round knowledge of the occupants needs. The weighting factor would be decided before scoring the buildings and it would need to be the same for item, for each building being compared, or if a comparison was being made of a particular building before and after renovation.

Multiplying the weighting with the score provides a factor (maximum of 30) for each item. Each area has its scores summed and a percentage is produced for each area. The resulting percentages are then summed for all the areas and divided by the number of areas to give an overall BIAM rating out of 100.

The difficulty found with this is that applying it to different types of building can give similar scores, for example see Appendix B showing completed forms for the three buildings; a London Office building, a factory and B4C. Notice how the scores only vary between 41 and 51. This is due to the fact that the more wide ranging aspects that are included within a sample of data the more likely the final scores will regress to the mean.

Perhaps there could be a way of taking the BIAM scale of 0 to 100 and, because no building is ever likely to score under 30 or over 70, focus on the scale 30 to 70. Buildings scoring below 40 could be classified as ones to avoid; buildings scoring over 60 could be classified as being 'very intelligent'. The difficulty here is that creating sub-classes such as 'reasonably intelligent' for a building scoring over 55, is meaningless to a potential occupier who is looking for a facility with a specific use in mind. An extreme example maybe a potential occupier examining a good scoring office building in the City of London that is unsuitable because the requirement is for a factory with lorry access and large open areas for plant and storage. Different buildings may score equally well, but in different ways.

The problems highlighted here can be tackled from two angles; one is to reduce the range of areas included for scoring, i.e. to include those features most important to the occupier. Secondly, the rating system should provide a profile of a building rather than an overall score of intelligence.

The BIAM was first of all changed so that not all areas on the form need be filled in, if certain areas were considered of little importance to the potential occupier. The sum of the scores for the areas filled would then be divided by the number of areas used to give the BIAM rating out of 100.

Next, the area scores were represented graphically in a radar diagram. The splayed axes of the radar diagram produced a shape that could be shaded to highlight a polygon which was very different for each building despite the buildings scoring similarly. Examine the revised BIAM forms for the three buildings B4C, the factory and the London office in Appendix C. The factory unit produces a 'bow', whilst the London and B4C offices produce a 'pacman'. For the factory, the larger the 'bow'; the more intelligent the factory is in the areas chosen for its suitability. For the offices, the larger and more rounded the 'pacman' is; the more intelligent the office is.

We can perhaps extend this a little to other types of buildings:

Examine the shapes in Appendix D:

A hospital - where important areas of intelligence are likely to be:
  • Location (Access for patients and emergencies)
  • Building Management (Fast moving, multi-departmental nature of the hospital environment)
  • Cost in Use (ever increasing demands on the Trust's finances)
  • Health Issues
Concentrating on these areas produces a 'half-moon'.

An educational establishment - where important areas of intelligence are likely to be:
  • Location (Access for pupils)
  • Cost in use (Government maintain a continuing tight control on educational budget)
  • Comfort (It is important to have an environment conjusive to learning)
  • Security (Increasingly important in the wake of recent tragedies within schools not just in the UK)
These areas result in a 'kite' shape.

A religious establishment - where the important areas of intelligence are likely to be:
  • Location (Access for the congregations)
  • Building Management (variety of use for small and large groups and community events)
  • Cost in use (Almost always a charity, costs have to be kept to a minimum as these places mainly rely on donations)
  • Identity (Prominence in the building's location, often an outward expression of the faith)
  • Comfort (Large numbers of people require a comfortable environment)
These areas produce a 'bird' shape.

In all cases, the larger the shape, the more intelligent the building. If a potential occupier required all seven areas to be included within the assessment (a factory that has substantial office areas may be such a candidate), then a large heptagon is the shape to aim for.

Strategy to Improve B4C

As can be seen from the BIAM result, B4C is particularly weak in its Location, its Building Management and the occupant's Comfort. As a result, a rather mis-shapen pacman profile is produced. The strategy for B4C is to find ways to improve the scores in these areas to give a more rounded 'pacman' profile for the building.


One fairly speedy solution to the car-parking problem is to apply for planning permission for another car park level in the existing car parking area. Another level could allow at least another 40 car spaces, particularly if it was placed between B4C and B4B (see site schematic). Alternative parking could also be found within other units close by, if the other businesses have places to spare.

Building Management and Comfort

The following list of items are suggestions on a way forward to improve these areas of the BIAM:
  • Demolishing the corridor partitions, on the first floor, would allow the space to benefit from the daylight coming from the atrium.
  • Replacing the damaged chipboard floor with a standard aluminium pedestal raised floor of 150mm floor gap will allow proper cable distribution for power and data throughout the floor void.
  • Replacing the current power ring main Electrak system with copex to floorboxes will allow far more flexibility when moving floorboxes to fit desk and partition layouts.
  • A form of shading on the outside of the windows will lessen the heat load on the environmental control system. Some vanes located to the top of the window could be motor-controlled via a light sensor that detected sunlight. The light sensor would be positioned on the side of the building where the vanes would be required. This system would also have the benefit of minimising glare on PC screens.
  • The introduction of calorifiers would enable the use of the onsite boilers to provide LTHW, rather than the expensive electric heaters.
  • Rather than rely on the thermostats and other sensors to merely measure temperatures, other sensors could be introduced. A humidity sensor could be installed within the extract duct, for instance, and, in conjunction with a humidifier, provide a proper humidity controlled environment. In addition, a number of PIRs could be introduced that detected occupancy for both security and Building Management Systems (BMS) purposes. Energy Management (EM) programs could then be utilised. One such program is 'Optimum Start' which is software that learns when occupancy occurs and thereby prepares the space environment to be ready for occupancy. These EM programs could be employed to provide energy savings and an environment that more closely matches the occupants use of the building.
  • Due to the possible problem in the autumn from the allotments, introduction of smoke filters and anti-smell devices may be prudent, for perhaps particular use during the winter months.
  • A 'Front End' for the BMS can aid with improved monitoring, trend logging and fine tuning of environment leading to energy savings and more comfortable occupants. It is now possible for a 'Front End' to give graphical representations and control of not only the BMS but the lighting, fire and security systems as well.
  • The current Fan Coil Units could be replaced with ceiling mounted Air Conditioning Units which could be individually controlled using small controllers such as the Honeywell XL10. Such a controller can be linked to other controllers via a standard bus protocol such as Echelon. This would free up some floor space and would also provide greater control of the local air space. Controller units can be wall-mounted for meeting rooms or for small areas of desk space allowing more flexible, individual control.
  • A Switchless lighting environment is proposed to replace the confusing bank of switches which control every lumiere across the whole floor. A company such as Switchplan produce a system that uses the LONworks Echelon bus standard for its lighting controllers. Furthermore this system can be used in conjunction with PIRs to provide dimming features when lighting levels near windows are high.
  • The current data cabling situation can be replaced with a future-proofed SCS that is capable of signal bandwidths up to 200Mhz (thereby allowing Gigabit Ethernet and Asynchronous Transfer Mode at 1.2Gb/s). Lucent Technologies are among a small number of manufacturers that supply a 'Category 6' ready SCS (Category 6 is on course to be ratified within a year from now!). Rather than use separate types of cabling for different data carriers, therefore resulting in separate contractors for the installation, the new SCS can be used for sensors, room controllers and lighting controllers as well as the Data and Voice systems. Managing the patching becomes a far simpler task.
  • Although a Local Area Network (LAN) exists within B4C, due to the IT intensive nature of the business, shared Ethernet giving 10Mb/s bandwidth amongst 60 people is not enough. A cost effective solution is to provide a chassis box such as the Cabletron 6000 which allows different network cards to be installed. Most users could make use of a 10BaseT switched connection to the Company LAN. This gives greater bandwidth to the user since in a switched network environment, the 10Mb/s bandwidth is no longer shared with other users, but is a dedicated pipe to the LAN backbone. Intensive IT users such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) or computer file-servers can connect to a different card providing 100Mb/s switched ports. High speed links are important for file-servers since many users are accessing these machines at any one time and can form a bottleneck within the network if care is not taken in the design.
  • One of the uses of the building is as a Network Monitoring Centre (NMC) for a number of customers. This centre is critical for Honeywell's business (not to mention the clients). Non-poisonous Halon-equivalent gas is a wise precaution for monitoring centre protection. The NMC already has the ability allowing remote access for engineers to monitor customers networks from home.
  • A software system such as Crimp, Archibus or Absia's Building One could be installed to manage the SCS. The advantage of systems such as Archibus and Building One is that they can be used to manage all the facilities; chairs, partitions, cabling, AHUs, equipment etc.
  • Once all the above has been installed, the office space can be moulded to suit the occupants needs. For instance, adding two meeting rooms would relieve the previous irritation of not having formal space to conduct meetings. As well as some individuals having their own desk space hot-desking can be introduced, where live telephone and data points can be patched in to laptop docking stations ready for anyone to connect as and when necessary. Sales people and engineers can have facilities to work from home thereby releasing office space and parking space for visitors coming to the training school. In fact the office space would be flexible enough to have a variety of working environments, meeting rooms, secluded partitioned off study rooms, coffee bar tables, training rooms, demonstration laboratories, NMC, stores etc.
  • As a result of the changes, modern regulations require that a CDM file is produced containing up to date documentation for the site. This is an example of where modern law has forced the issue on keeping proper documentation on commercial buildings.

Application of the BIAM to the upgraded B4C

Appendix E contains the completed form for B4C after the upgrade has occurred. The items that have changed are highlighted.


An improvement has occurred due to proper car parking facilities being provided. In addition, the improvements have increased the score for the suitability of the building.

Building Management

Most of the building improvement has occurred in this area. The IT infrastructure has improved to a future-proofed system allowing cost-conscious Moves and Changes (MACS) and more high speed LANs to be introduced, thereby enabling greater productivity.

The environment has become more easy to control due to the introduction of an intelligent facade, greater individual control and a user-friendly 'Front End' for the BMS.

The score in this area has also been increased because of more open standards being introduced in the lighting and BMS systems.

And finally, the CDM documentation has been updated and is readily available for reference and maintenance.

Cost in Use

A consequence of the above changes is that the building is less costly to manage and maintain. The cost of churn should be reduced dramatically as the flexible floor and cabling allow moves to occur frequently and with minimum fuss. The modular nature of the environmental and lighting systems allow for greater ease in maintenance.


Due to the existence of the BREEAM document, I felt that it was not necessary to include environmental issues within the BIAM.

This BIAM can easily be appended as new items for each area are considered worth including, or indeed a whole new area of intelligence is deemed appropriate to add when assessing a building.

The assignment of names to shapes should not be overdone since the decision of which areas are important is not set in stone and can vary from occupier to occupier. Nevertheless the above method shows how a profile of a type of building can be produced, and using the same criteria, the BIAM can provide a comparison between similar types of building. Significant deviations from the suggested shapes produce a good indication of the intelligence of the building. A balanced, large shape indicates an intelligent building. Making improvements to an existing, occupied building can have a significant effect on the BIAM profile of that building.

Having access to previous occupants of a building is extremely valuable. One or two comments made to me during my research for this assignment highlighted problems that would otherwise have remained undiscovered until the new occupation had occurred. Occupancy evaluations are important when assessing buildings for intelligence and perhaps provision could have been made for such input within the BIAM developed here.

Finally, renovation costs were not part of the brief for this assignment, however it is worth mentioning that the decision to renovate a particular building, or to move to a particular building is often based on evaluations of build, design and life-cycle costs. Renovating a relatively unintelligent building may be considered a less expensive option than buying a building with a good BIAM rating.

Appendix A

B4C First floor plan
B4C 1st floor plan

Appendix B

Initial BIAM form for the London office
initial BIAM

Initial BIAM form for the factory

Initial BIAM form for B4C

Appendix C

Revised BIAM form for the London office

Revised BIAM form for the factory

Revised BIAM form for B4C

Appendix D

Example BIAM profile of a hospital

Example BIAM profile of an educational establishment

Example BIAM profile of a religious establishment

Appendix E

Revised BIAM for B4C after refurbishment

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