Cisco Targets Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Similar to what it is doing with the delivery of power through its Smart Grid project, Cisco is now turning to its networking capabilities to help drive down power consumption in buildings. At its Cisco Live event, Cisco launches its Smart Connected Buildings program and rolls out the first deliverable, the Network Building Mediator, which will monitor energy systems throughout a building and give managers the information they need to make those buildings more energy-efficient.

As it is doing with its Smart Grid initiative, Cisco Systems is looking to use its networking expertise to improve energy efficiency in offices and other commercial buildings.

At the Cisco Live event in San Francisco July 1, company officials unveiled its Smart Connected Buildings program, part of a larger initiative called Smart+Connected Communities.

Cisco also rolled out the first product from the Smart Connected Buildings program, a device designed to bring greater intelligence to building systems such as HVAC, lighting, electricity and security. The Network Building Mediator will enable building managers to monitor and measure energy systems throughout the building and act on the data.

The managers will be able to use the information, which is transmitted via an IP network, to institute various energy-saving programs, such as automated demand-response initiatives that could cut capital and operation expenses, and to institute policies that work well with how the occupants use energy.

The Network Building Mediator takes the data collected from the systems and converts it to open XML/SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) Services, which is then sent to the various applications, utilities, enterprise management systems and cloud services that managers can use to analyze the data and institute policies.

The move to build intelligence into systems used in buildings is gaining steam. Several speakers at an event hosted by Schneider Electric-parent of APC (American Power Conversion)-in June said such intelligence and automation were keys to reducing power consumption in buildings of all sorts, from offices to homes to data centers to factories.

The Network Building Mediator is part of Cisco's larger EnergyWise push, designed to apply the company's technology to the growing problem of energy consumption and its related effect on the environment.

Cisco's Smart+Connected Communities initiative aims to use the company's technology and the Internet to tackle the need for sustainable energy, particularly as more people migrate to urban areas. Over the next three to five years, the world's population will continue to migrate toward cities and 3 billion people around the world will connect to the Internet, according to Wim Elfrink, chief globalization officer and executive vice president of Cisco Services.

"Cisco envisages a future where successful communities and cities will run on networked information, and where information technology will help the world better manage its energy and environmental challenges," Elfrink said in a statement. "Cities of the future, and many innovative cities now, are addressing the issues and opportunities of this new world by thinking about the network as the platform for economic development, better city management and an improved quality of life for citizens."

Using technology to help create more energy-efficient cities is one of 30 "market adjacencies" that Cisco CEO John Chambers said in a keynote speech June 29 the company will expand into in the coming year.