Smart Building Systems and Construction: A Use Case for MSI


The new building at 800 W Fulton in Chicago rises high above the famed warehouse and meatpacking district, a glittering green building that symbolizes the transformation of the West Loop. Not only is it a striking work of classic and modern architecture - with its mix of brick, glass and exposed steel - but it is aiming to be one of Chicago’s most connected buildings and is sure to be a distinctly modern place to work. 

But being connected isn’t enough to take the crown as Chicago’s smartest building. To make that claim, the building needed intelligent integration that let all its systems work together and learn from each other. For that, they turned to the master systems integrators at Buildings IOT and their integrated platform, onPoint. 

Buildings IOT’s master systems integrator (MSI) team was brought into the construction process early to ensure all installed systems could ultimately be integrated into a single-pane-of-glass so that operators could maintain its energy efficiency and occupant comfort throughout its life. By selecting best-in-class equipment and controls based on open protocol communication standards and the latest in smart sensor technology, the development and construction team on the Fulton project is on their way to delivering one of the smartest buildings in Chicago, setting a new standard for sustainability, convenience, and comfort.

The Promise of 800 Fulton

The-Promise-of-800-Fulton-1The West Loop is the new heart of Chicago’s tech sector, and any building hoping to attract top-flight tenants needs to offer the most modern amenities. At 18 stories, with 500,000 square feet of office space, tons of amenities, and even a tiered green roof with multiple floors of outdoor terrace, 800 Fulton already had a lot going for it. But the building owners wanted it to be the smartest in Chicago. With that goal in mind, they set out to offer an impressive host of amenities and features that marry cutting-edge tech with creature comforts. 

These include: 

  • 100% outdoor air—the highest possible indoor air quality
  • Contactless lobby
  • Streamlined security and guest check-in
  • Real-time occupancy status
  • A tenant experience app to control space conditions, submit work orders, book conference rooms and schedule events
  • WELL Silver certification for optimal health and wellness
  • LEED Platinum Core and Shell certification
  • Wired Score Platinum certification

With this approach, 800 Fulton promised to be not just the most technologically sophisticated building in the city, but to be future-proof. During the planning stage, the owners brought in the best building systems and construction contractors to make this happen. 

What they needed was something to bring it all together: an MSI.

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What Happens Without an MSI?

Automated systems will work without an MSI. HVAC systems will adjust, security systems will create alerts, occupancy monitors will identify when people are occupying a space. But without an MSI who specializes in smart building systems and construction, who is advising the full development and construction team on the details needed for technologies to talk to each other, it’s likely each automated system will work on its own without a unifying system, leaving operators to jump from computer to computer to manage singular aspects of their building, one at a time. Without an MSI, building operations are more expensive. Without central command and control, decisions are made piecemeal. Improvements happen by tweaks along the way rather than as the result of system-wide strategizing.

Smart buildings, on the other hand, are made smart by a series of decisions made throughout the construction process to ensure that when the building gets to occupancy, sometimes years after technology decisions were first made, it can be operated intelligently, with full visibility across all smart systems.  Smart buildings are a product of time and data. Fulton is a prime example of what is possible with the right MSI.

800 Fulton: A Use Case for Integration

Construction had started. The new building was rising. The automated, smart systems were being put in. As 800 Fulton began to come online, the team began considering  how they would be tracking energy usage across the building at the point of occupancy, with its diverse systems and various tenant spaces. This is a relatively simple process for a single-family home, but a commercial building as complex as 800 Fulton, with its overlapping, intertwined systems, makes this a much bigger task.



Building Specs:

  • Building Size: 500,000 square feet
  • Types of Integrated Sensors and Devices: HVAC, lighting, indoor environmental quality monitoring, presence detection and occupancy sensing, visitor management, space planning and utilization

Trigger Incident:

Construction projects typically involve large teams of owners, architects, engineers and sub-contractors, each with subject matter expertise in specific aspects of the design and build process. For buildings that aim to be leading examples of what’s possible with best-in-class, innovative new technologies, another crucial member of the team is the MSI. It’s their responsibility to ask questions about Day 1 and Day 2 building occupancy, where the construction team is focused on the heavy lift of getting a building from a hole in the ground to an 18-story structure that meets code requirements, looks beautiful and provides a comfortable place for people to work. 

Since the team at 800 Fulton brought in the team at Buildings IOT fairly early in the design process, they had a long-term partner who reviewed designs and subcontractor submittals with an eye toward the future and a focus on the question “How will the building’s operators get access to this system’s data from a single user interface?” 

Metering is a good example of where these questions paid off for the team.



When Buildings IOT started consulting, our master systems integration team took a look at how energy was being consumed, how all of the systems work together, and how we could facilitate reporting. Only an MSI takes that 20,000-ft view and combines it with an on-the-ground, in-depth look at how things work in practice. 

Working closely with development and construction stakeholders, Buildings IOT was able to make meaningful recommendations to ensure accurate metering.

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How the Data Was Used:

onPoint, with machine learning capabilities, command and control functionality and advanced analytics, serves as the building operating system for 800 Fulton. When the building is fully operational in mid-2021, onPoint will serve as the engine for continuous monitoring of system-wide data, including operational efficiency, energy savings and building performance. This applies to everything from HVAC control and smart meters to indoor air quality: by seeing how everything works together, we could plan for the automated systems to function in relation to each other and as a whole.

One of the most valuable features of onPoint is its sophisticated fault detection and diagnostic capabilities. Via a mobile-accessible dashboard, stakeholders can easily review information about the function of equipment and conditions within the building and receive prioritized alerts according to custom rules.

This dashboard is invaluable in guiding both design and construction processes and for long-term building management. By identifying vulnerabilities as early as possible and prioritizing malfunctions, building operators can quickly resolve issues, preventing potentially catastrophic equipment failure and compromised performance. During construction, this information can also be used to refine designs and troubleshoot before problems are baked into the building or tenants are at risk of being affected. 

User-friendly, room-by-room visualizations can also help all stakeholders gain real-time insight into building conditions and more easily create sophisticated energy efficiency, safety, and comfort strategies.

In a building like 800 Fulton, this can be critical. With so many moving parts, so much complex data, and such ambitious goals, making information accessible and legible to a diverse range of stakeholders—including development and construction teams—helps ensure everyone is on the same page.

MSIs Create Better Building Systems and Construction Strategies

The advantages of using an MSI go beyond solving a single incident. A strong partnership with an MSI can open up better opportunities for realizing your vision, taking into account your objectives, timeline, and budget to ensure systems are secure, flexible, and performing optimally.

The best MSI will:

  • Architect elegant solutions
  • Create a coherent multidisciplinary execution strategy
  • Work with open protocols
  • Have experience with and access to a broad range of technologies
  • Be able to integrate legacy systems into a new building
  • Understand and implement multilevel cybersecurity strategies
  • Train owners and operators
  • Work collaboratively with stakeholders at all stages of the project 
  • Have specialized teams, including expert software developers, customer-centric operations teams, dedicated project managers, and security-focused IT team

The MSI’s role is to be your advocate and architect systems according to your best interests rather than being limited to a handful of proprietary technologies. With these capabilities, the possibilities for more efficient, sustainable, and comfortable buildings are greatly expanded.  

The Fulton Market district is a historic area with a dynamic present. 800 Fulton is how the future will look: smart buildings committed to occupant health and safety and reduced energy use. Partnering with the right MSI can allow you to optimize building systems and construction and ensure your building is part of that future.

Buildings IOT offers secure, scalable designs that make way for cross-system integration and machine learning analytics. Contact us today.