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How to Improve Your Building Management System's Design

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Clint Bradford

Traditional building management system (BMS) design results in the capture of a huge amount of data from a complex network of equipment and sensors—data you have to make sense of. This data contains invaluable information about your building, but the sheer volume can make it difficult to filter through and determine what matters, what doesn’t, and how disparate elements of the system relate to the whole. As a result, your goals—energy efficiency, increased occupant comfort, improved operations—often remain out of reach. But the right building management system design can change that and allow you to optimize performance.

How to Improve Building Management System Design

Historically, building owners and facilities managers have relied on their BMS for daily operational management. However, conventional building management system design has significant weaknesses. In particular, they are not able to closely monitor and report on all aspects of a system, creating blindspots. Equipment vulnerabilities go undetected until they result in major malfunctions, energy waste may not be recognized until a surprising utility bill arrives, and poor temperature regulation continues until occupants bring it to your attention. Additionally, your building management system may suffer from problems like slow network speed and limited storage capacity, limiting your ability to implement more advanced design changes.

But for every common problem, there is a solution. The right smart building systems integrator can provide the right solutions to improve your building management system’s design.

Problem

Data from multiple systems that can be overwhelming.

Solution

Organize and prioritize big data with intelligent data analytics.

A BMS system needs the support of intelligent analytics to piece together what is happening in your building, continuously and long before the point of crisis. After all, your operational systems and equipment extend far and wide, even to the smaller systems that may not be actively monitored. Analytics provides a centralized way of continuously collecting, organizing, prioritizing, and reporting data across the network. With this data, a robust platform can detect faults, energy spikes, and other anomalies throughout the building and offer advanced diagnostics, customizable reporting capabilities, and automation solutions. In other words, data becomes meaningful.

Problem

Slow network speed.

Solution

Your network and the data that runs through it should be designed with maximum speed and agility in mind. To improve the speed and reliability of data from areas like VAV boxes and FCU controllers, consider:

  • Limiting the number of devices per communication trunk
  • Installing a high-speed IP network
  • Installing a fiber-optic network

Although these strategies can increase up-front costs, performance improvements can be significant and the lifespan of the system is vastly increased, optimizing return on investment.

Problem

Lack of data storage for BMS data.

Solution

The right integration partner can greatly expand data storage capabilities via dedicated servers and cloud-based solutions. This can help you take further steps to modernize your BMS design, such as:

  • Integrating small equipment that may not be monitored or reported on by BMS to ensure data is reported and optimization occurs
  • Capturing data related to a full range of variables, including occupancy patterns and seasonality
  • Provide energy efficiency data for addressing excess consumption 

Data storage speed improvements translate to better overall BMS capabilities for greater control and open up opportunities for smarter building management.

Problem

High reliance on human oversight and manual intervention.

Solution

An analytics platform with machine learning (ML) capabilities can improve BMS automation, controls, and efficiency while decreasing the need for human intervention. As ML algorithms learn how a building’s equipment and systems function, the platform can automatically initiate actions and changes to correct malfunctions and otherwise improve performance. For example, automatic recooling or preheating in advance of seasonal temperature changes and changing occupant levels allows for seamless adjustments. This not only preserves occupant comfort, it helps reduce energy waste, minimize reliance on manual intervention, and enhance operational efficiency.

Improving BMS Design: A Case Study

Brookfield Properties serves as a prime example of how choosing the right technologies and working with the right partners can improve building management system design and yield important benefits. In 2011, the global real estate services company partnered with Buildings IOT for the integration of HVAC, lighting, and power metering in about 42 of its locations. Their goal was to optimize energy and labor savings and efficiency by normalizing the way data is accessed and analyzed.

With 163 mall properties nationwide, Brookfield wanted a single, mobile management dashboard for reporting and accessing BMS data remotely from any location. Occupant comfort and comprehensive integration and systems upgrades were also critical to this innovative BMS design. With a fully-integrated system that allowed its locations to function seamlessly as one network, Brookfield achieved:

  • Greater energy savings
  • Fewer maintenance calls and truck rolls
  • Simplified, centralized dashboard reporting

Once the first 42 properties were complete, Buildings IOT has been retained for similar projects in all mall properties in the Brookfield portfolio for nearly a decade.

Transforming BMS Design With Smart Analytics

Once you have a BMS that is designed to process data from multiple systems quickly, historize that data and ultimately help you and your facilities team make sense of the data, you’ll quickly see your workflow become more streamlined. From there, you can consider incorporating smart analytics systems that integrate well into your building management system to further reshape your BMS’s design and implement thoughtful strategies to realize key performance goals. However, successful integration requires specialized expertise. Partnering with the right integration services and choosing a cutting-edge analytics platform are integral to your success.

Buildings IOT’s integration services and onPoint Analytics can give you a powerful way to enhance occupant comfort, improve operational efficiency, and reduce energy use, resulting in an impressive return on your investment. 

Buildings IOT has extensive experience upgrading BMS systems with secure, scalable designs that make way for cross-system integration and machine learning analytics. Contact us today.

 

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