Published 30 October 2013
Updated 12 June 2015

Smart solutions for green buildings, eco-innovative technologies with focus on the user comfort and adaptation- all of these are nowadays challenges in the area of building automation and control system. Seamless collaboration of building systems such as blinding, lighting and HVAC-heating, ventilation, and air conditioning -adapting to season, time of day and building occupation, hold the promise of increased energy efficiency and improved user comfort and safety.

Imagine working in the building which automatically adapts to the needs of a user: proper level of air conditioning, according to the weather or amount of people in the room, level of light according to the time of the day or meeting we are holding-less light for presentation or more light when reading. Imagine all of this as self-organizing, cooperative and robust building automation, without the need of our intervention. Presently, however, these functions are based on vendor specific and incompatible standards and incur high installation cost and deliver little flexibility. Typically, the cost of installation and commissioning a building automation and control system is as high as the cost of the system itself. Typically, the sensor data collected in the lighting subsystem cannot be reused to adapt the control of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning or safety subsystems.

Thus, interoperability problems limit the introduction of building automation systems and block the realisation of their full potential. Automation and standardisation are essential to break the barriers that exist between the building subsystems and the SCUBA project  (Funded by the European Commission FP7-ICT Programme in the domain of Complex Systems and Advanced Computing). has taken on these challenges. It takes the learning from the ICT industry to adapt them for usage in building automation.

The SCUBA building specification is standards-based and founded on the new guidelines for “room control functions”. These guidelines are building function independent. Moreover, they directly couple to the “energy efficiency for buildings” standard. Equally important, this design can be stored and reused, avoiding ineffective and error-prone rebuilding of the relevant building information at every step in the building life cycle. Pilots are on-going to show that this significantly reduces installation and commissioning times.

The building specification also directs data collection, and the SCUBA project shows that such data can be used for energy savings. As an example, the data collected in the safety subsystem are reused in the lighting and HVAC subsystems to achieve energy savings. Taking this one step further, the project demonstrates how the data collection can be integrated into an analytics framework to realise energy monitoring and optimisation.

Through its perspective on standardisation, SCUBA has the potential to enable a building controls market that cannot be shaped by single companies. On this standards-based foundation, the algorithmic innovations may engender service businesses that will contribute to a sustainable growth of the European economy.

The project consortium members are: Ennovatis, CEA-LETI, Schneider Electric, Philips, ESI, TUD, UTRC-I, CIT.

If you would like to read more about Project, visit the project website and the Project Fact Sheet