Master systems integration: Never too early

April 1, 2024

The importance of master systems integration (MSI) services has grown as building operators, owners and developers seek to use building system data streams more effectively. For example, identifying equipment and comfort anomalies can depend on clean, well-organized data from various base building systems. Operators can benefit from a single interface to operate buildings and set schedules – not a different interface per system (e.g., one terminal to operate HVAC, another for lighting control, another for security/access, etc.)

Master systems integration is a process in which these base building systems, which can be operated as independent data silos, are connected. The field controllers and other sensors within the building will remain in place, but the data that they collect is integrated into a single place. Additionally, there is a unified user interface that enables operators to access all data and control all equipment. For example, all these base building systems could be integrated into the building automation system, or a separate application could be deployed for all the different systems. Moreover, some building owners and operators will integrate some, but not all of these base building systems. This can provide some of the benefits of integration while limiting the overall effort to deploy.

MSI services, and a robust strategy around integrating these systems, is important for a number of reasons. The key benefits and drivers to deploy MSI services include:

  • Operator labor shortage: Many building owners are finding there is a shortage of trained operators and engineers to manage their facilities. For this reason, using MSI services to augment staff ultimately requires less operator time. This presents a compelling long-term value to owners, as the labor shortage is likely to get worse.
  • Easier to meet energy and carbon goals: Decarbonization and overall energy efficiency are increasingly important goals for many organizations. The foundation for many of these initiatives and third-party standards is complete performance data of operations. And, much of this data comes from various building systems (meters, utility bills, among others).
  • Improved indoor environment: When it is easier to operate a building more efficiently, the result is a better-run building. This typically leads to a more productive and healthy indoor environment for occupants. Better learning spaces, healing environments and efficient travel hubs are great examples. While some of these benefits can be hard to quantify, there is an emerging body of research indicating that high performing buildings are more productive and preferred by occupants. Master systems integration can enable these technologies to be easier to deploy and easier to manage. This can amplify the value to the building.
  • Extensibility for the future: Digital technologies in buildings are rapidly advancing. Staying ahead of all of these developments is difficult, and deploying the best offerings can be even harder. But, with MSI services offering a basis of data integration, upgrading systems and adding new technologies can be easier – buildings are “smart ready.” We believe it is important for buildings to have updated, integrated and easy-to-access data. Deploying tools such as digital twin technology for asset management is an effective way to accomplish these goals. A future-focused strategy delivered by an MSI delivers a higher long-term return on investment. Listen to our November episode of the Digital Rebar Podcast for an example of how one organization, Dartmouth College, is implementing a future-forward approach to asset management.

While the upfront cost and time of master systems integration is not always a typical budget line item, it should be. The long-term benefits are simply too impactful to ignore. This holds true for both new construction as well as renovation projects. If you are interested in exploring master systems integration for your property, our technology experts are available for a conversation about next steps; you can schedule a consultation by reaching out to us any time.