BOULDER - The industry that generates management and automation systems to control smart buildings is moving toward using more open communications protocol to ease the transition, according to a report released Monday by Boulder-based Navigant Research.

Integrated building management and building automation systems rely on networks of sensors, switches, fans, alarms and other devices, along with software tools to provide a real-time view of the current state of a building.

The market for networked building controls is expanding as building owners and operators realize the cost-savings offered by automated real-time control of every major system within their facilities, according to the report.

However, the conservative nature of the building industry means that the shift away from existing standards will stretch well into the next decade, particularly for building retrofits, according to the report.

"Networked together by one or more protocols, building automation systems can drastically reduce energy usage and costs, alert building operators to repair or maintenance needs, and provide significant upgrades to occupant comfort and safety," said Eric Woods, research director with Navigant Research. "This market is being driven not only by rising energy prices, but also by the increased availability of simple-to-use, web-based dashboards for building management."

Since many building systems often do not share the same communications protocol, connecting them can be a time- and resource-intensive process, particularly when the protocols are proprietary in nature. The market is moving toward the use of more open protocols, according to the report, and the introduction of Internet protocol-enabled devices is helping to ease this transition.

Find the full report, "Smart Buildings Networking and Communications," here.