IT Firm Aims To Make Buildings Green

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Telent plans to cut costs by making buildings smarter, uniting heating and lighting with IT, and modernising the facilities management Luddites

Telent, the technology services company spun out of Marconi, plans to combine building management with IT networks to reduce firms’  environmental footprint.

A new unit at the company will bring together IT with facilities management systems for mid-market businesses and public sector organisations – promoting efficiency and reducing energy costs, in line with the idea promoted at the Copenhagen summit, that ICT can reduce organisations’ overall carbon footprint.

“Imagine a building where power is provided only when it is needed; a situation where you can monitor and proactively reduce energy usage by department or individual,” said Bob Swallow, general manager of Telent’s integrated systems unit. Outlook appointments, for instance, could automatically power up a video conference suite, heat the room and connect it to other locations, he said.

Telent, which provides the safety and surveillance system for the London Underground, will pull together and manage different parts of companies’ infrastructure such as lighting, heating and security to make savings, under the name MICA (Management Integration & Control of Assets).

“We’re expecting a boom in this sort of business,” said Swallow. “We are trying to be thought leaders, and we do see a big takeup for this. Laws and regulations have been introduced and face with emissions taxation and escalating energy costs, companies are reviewing how they can operate in a more efficient environment.” 

Companies could use numberplate recognition in the car park, and the swipe-card security systems in doors, to turn users’ PCs off when they leave the building, Swallow said, along with other ideas developed during carbon audits for customers.

“The line between IT and facilities is blurring. IP networks, optimised for voice, video and data services, are increasingly assuming building management responsibilities,” he added.

“Ten years ago, most companies had a data group and a voice group, battling for the network. The voice people lost,” he said. “The same thing will happen with facilities – the facilities management department are the Luddites, and the data network will win over again. It’s the intelligence that makes the network valuable to the business.”

Other companies offering similar services include Siemens, Honeywell and Rockwell. Telent was spun out of Marconi, when the rest of the company was bought by Ericsson. Briefly owned by the Pension Corporationm, it is now independent.