EllisDon implements intelligent infrastructure for Dubai tower


EllisDon’s Energy & Digital Services (E&DS) team was selected to deliver its managed services solution for ICD-Brookfield Place in Dubai, which included supporting the intelligent infrastructure that was deployed during the construction of the building.

This was the first project of its kind for EllisDon in the Middle East. The building is a $1.7 million, 55-storey, one-million-square-foot mixed-use highrise located in the Dubai International Financial Centre in the United Arab Emirates.

The client is Al Salwa Investment LLC Investment Corporation Dubai (ICD) and Brookfield Properties constructed the building in a joint venture. The tower was completed in 2019 but the managed services contract awarded to EllisDon is a three-year contract to provide ongoing support of the infrastructure.

EllisDon got involved with the project in the early stages of the construction process. E&DS was retained by ICD-Brookfield to perform an intelligent building drawing and specification review.

“We started having conversations with them about making ICD-Brookfield Place an intelligent building and they believed they were constructing an intelligent building,” said Robert Barnes, vice-president, E&DS, adding the ED team asked to look at the engineering drawings for the building. “We were able to point out issues to them with respect to the fact that the systems weren’t going to be converged.

“The concept was that we were going to run two converged networks, one that was for security and one that was for the remainder of the electrical and mechanical.”

EllisDon had completed intelligent building projects across Canada before. The team in Dubai was familiar with Brookfield Place in Calgary.

“We wanted to take the concept and apply it to a development in the Middle East,” said Barnes. “We’ve done it at a number of places in Canada so really what we did is we leveraged our experience with Brookfield Place in Calgary and implemented a similar design at ICD-Brookfield Place in Dubai.”

The Process

E&DS created an Intelligent Building Roadmap for the building. They were then retained as the project’s building integration system consultant.

“We responded to an RFP to become the master technology integrator (MTI) and the role of the MTI is to basically go in and work with the various providers of mechanical and electrical systems and ensure that those systems would have the ability to be connected to the network and they would utilize the converged building network,” Barnes said.

After responding to an RFP, E&DS was also chosen to procure and install the converged network active components.

The team was able to do a lot of the work remotely.

“Once we had connections to equipment, configuration and design work could be done from our offices in Mississauga (Ont.),” Barnes noted. “This was pre-COVID so we would send resources to Dubai at critical times to do the work that was required on site.

“With the managed services contract we now have a dedicated resource embedded onsite at that building,” he added. “We hired a local individual, he is part of the E&DS team and he supports infrastructure onsite with remote support from our professional services team here in Mississauga.”

How the system works

In describing the way the converged building network works, Barnes said systems in a building such as the elevator system, access control, building automation and HVAC system can all communicate over one network.

“Traditionally what would happen is that each of the vendors would run their own communication network to those end devices and they would utilize their own communication protocol, which in a lot of cases used to be proprietary,” he explained. “Why not have one network which all the systems can communicate over and have each of those systems communicate via a standard language, let’s say English.

“That then allows you to exchange information between the two systems and it will allow you to support certain use cases that the tenant or the building operator would like to have happen.”

Barnes started with EllisDon 10 years ago and when working on one of his first intelligent building projects there was a lot of convincing that needed to be done with developers and owners about the need to implement technology into buildings.

“In 2021 it is not even a discussion, it’s a given,” he said. “That implementation of technology within buildings is increasing at an exponential rate. When the first wave (of COVID) hit in March last year certainly we saw a slow down in new opportunities but that only lasted until late April early May 2020. Since then it’s just been on a tear. Owners developers are doubling down on their investments on technology in the building.”

Back in Dubai, the team is now providing onsite and remote support and maintenance of the converged building network, the wireless network, the VoIP network and the building firewalls including access management via the virtual private network and also maintains and supports both the structured cabling and the base building fiber.

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.