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3/30/2010
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IBM, Johnson Controls Eye Smart Buildings

Vendors combine facilities management and IT systems to help customers reduce energy costs by as much as 35%.

IBM has teamed up with environmental management specialist Johnson Controls to develop systems designed to make office buildings and other facilities more energy efficient.

Under the plan, IBM will integrate its business analytics software and middleware with Johnson's building control technology. The companies will also offer a range of services options around the offerings.

The aim is to create smart systems that can automatically turn off lights when a building is unoccupied, identify pockets of heat loss, shut off and power up cooling systems as needed, and perform other energy-saving tasks without human intervention.

"This is the result of a long relationship that's benefited both companies," said Clay Nesler, Johnson Controls' VP for Global Energy and Sustainability, in an interview. Nesler noted that the two vendors have previously collaborated on smart systems aimed specifically at the datacenter market.

Johnson will combine IBM Tivoli products and other middleware with its EnNet software to integrate building systems, business systems, and smart grid technologies.

The companies will also pair Johnson Controls' Metasys Sustainability Manager with IBM business analytics and Maximo asset management software to create systems that can provide facilities managers with information that can help them reduce energy waste.

Additionally, Johnson's Energy and Emissions Management System will be married with IBM enterprise reporting tools as a foundation for systems that can calculate and forecast greenhouse gas emissions.

"These capabilities have been available for a long time, but they haven't been widely applied," said Nesler, adding that Johnson Controls' team-up with IBM will eliminate much of the difficult integration work that often kept companies from deploying such systems.

"Both organizations are committed to open standards and Web technologies," said Nesler. "So while this would have required a lot of engineering and R&D work several years ago, we now hope to leverage as many standards as possible," he said.

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