Integrated Building Systems (IBS) for the Residence

The term “IBS” conceptually combines the installation and maintenance of all electrical and electronic systems, which includes telecommunications, life safety, security access control and local area networks (LANs). In this field, there would be direct responsibility for the installation and functioning of interrelated power, communications and control subsystems and improved compliance with NEC safety requirements for grounding and fire stopping. This concept has now grown into five (versus one or two) new divisions as described in the MasterFormat 2004. The divisions are 25 Integrated Automation, 26 Electrical, 27 Communications, 28 Electronic Safety & Security and 48 Electrical Power Generation.

Approaches to IBS seem to come from three points of view: residential, federal/state and the commercial building industry. Read on for differences among these points of view and for what services/technologies make up residential IBS.

The following is a breakdown of the three approaches to the integrated building system.

Residential IBS

These integrated systems cover the consumer's needs regarding data (PCs, networking hardware) and voice (telephones or VoIP) applications; home automation functions, such as lighting/dimming, entertainment, cinema, central vacuum and/or motorized windows; television and video distribution; audio distribution; and many security functions such as closed-circuit television, video entry control and access.

Federal and state guidelines for IBS

In this area, you'll see organizations formed out of federal agencies or state programs that support energy efficiencies for consideration in the initial design phase of a building. Some of those efficiencies can be found in solar heating/cooling, lighting, moisture management, equipment/appliance management, heating, ventilating, air conditioning (HVAC) and hot water management.

Commercial IBS

Commercial companies provide their technical solutions to integrated building systems for commercial and/or residential building clients. Much of this market is concerned with energy conservation, convenience, security and the challenge of tying them together.

Some of the solutions to an IBS include communications (networks such as LANs/WANs, PCs, phones, answering machines); home automation/control; home security/ access; structured cabling; wireless devices; audio/visual systems (TVs, speakers, audio components); surveillance systems; energy management; and entertainment systems (gaming, DVD/CD players).

You can read about the technologies important to integration in today's newspapers and trade magazines. One method is using structured wiring, where customers are able to integrate their system(s). A residential wiring control/panel links the operation of integration software to devices it is linked/cabled to; that is, the devices communicate with each other and perform what is programmed into the software.

There is another option of using wireless services that can be seen, for example, in a hospital with CAT scan and magnetic imaging equipment. Or the burglar alarm can be integrated with the video equipment and the access-control system.

Third, signals can be placed over power lines as shown by employing the current X10 communications language sent through existing electrical wiring of a home, which is used to link devices together for programming and management. Transmitter plugs at one or more locations are installed that transmit a control signal to receiver plugs located around the house. Installation is simple-the transmitter plugs (or wires) in at one location in the home and sends a control signal (on, off, dim, bright, etc.) to a receiver that plugs (or wires) into another location in the home.

In the future, we will be seeing more broadband over power lines (BPL). This broadband service should have a bandwidth sufficient to carry multiple voice, video or data channels simultaneously that can be broken into two parts-in-house and access (from the house out to the Internet). When application and performance standards are agreed on, potentially, networking/integrating every electric device together over the power lines might result in extreme convenience for the home/office.

According to Kristine Stewart, president of the Internet Home Alliance, in a recent interview with Home Toys Inc. ( “The bottom line is that, as an industry, we need to make it much more simple and turnkey for the consumer to adopt and install connected home solutions. Research shows that consumers are interested to use these solutions in their daily lives and in order to do so, they will need qualified professionals to help them with installation and ongoing support.”

The residential IBS industry is clearly moving forward-the customer wants it because it saves time and delivers the latest in technology, which connects to that direct responsibility idea for the installation and functioning of interrelated power, communications and control subsystems that is now restructured in the Master- Format 2004. EC

MICHELSON, president of Jackson, Calif.-based Business Communication Services and publisher of the BCS Reports, is an expert in TIA/EIA performance standards. Contact her at or


About the Author

Marilyn Michelson

Freelance Writer
Marilyn Michelson, president of Jackson, Calif.-based Business Communication Services and publisher of the BCS Reports, is an expert in TIA/EIA performance standards.

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