At a recent Edison Electric Institute conference, I had the opportunity to speak with several supermarket energy managers about the challenges they face as they consider upgrading their lighting, HVAC and other grocery store building systems. These grocers often only have the budget to update one of these systems, so they are challenged with ensuring that this new system will work nicely with their other, existing systems and also work with future system updates as renovation budgets become available. It’s a common problem that many retailers are facing.
Since Acuity Brands works with the nation’s largest grocery stores and retailers, I offered the following advice to these leaders evaluating their options.
Any building automation technology should have an open protocol. BACnet™ is the most prevalent open building protocol and for good reason. An open protocol makes it easier for different systems to work together, and there are a host of products on the market that can connect HVAC, lighting and refrigeration through this protocol. Also, BACnet open protocol future-proofs any system that uses it, since you can connect more systems and devices — think CCTV and security — to it in the future.
Bottom Line: Look to products that are BACnet Testing Laboratories listed to ensure that BACnet is being properly used for your current integration and the integration of BACnet products in the future.
It’s no longer enough for a building system that can read a status, a temperature for example. Grocery store managers need a building system that also allows them to tell the system to do something. For example, when the temperature in their supermarket is 68° F and the temperature outside is 115° F, a facility manager may decide to save some energy and override that setting to adjust the internal temperature to 72° F.
Internet Protocol Enabled
IP is the future of how data is transferred on a network, both wired and wireless.
Bottom Line: To ensure a long-lasting building automation system, it must be IP enabled.
Shared Data Platform
Data is of little use when it’s locked up. So a good building automation system will ensure that the data that is collected is able to be shared across the various platforms and can be leveraged to optimize the various systems. In other words, the data from your HVAC system should be the same data used to talk to your lighting and refrigeration.
Bottom Line: To enjoy the benefits of building systems connected together through open protocol, the data must be shared across the individual systems.
The information that is captured by this digital architecture needs to go further than simply connecting and sharing; it needs to be used for both energy management and customer engagement to complement ongoing omnichannel strategies. An IoT-ready system will provide this capability, either now or in the future as marketing and operational strategies change.
Bottom Line: For a truly future-proofed building automation system, it must be IoT ready.
As with any big investment, it’s wise to think about the life of the asset, or in this case the system, in order to make smarter decisions about where and when to invest. For more about controls for supermarkets, check out this 20-minute webinar now available on YouTube.