An important aspect in making a building “smart” entails the use of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). Integrated, automated building systems have benefited greatly from this technology, which has made it possible to inexpensively gather data throughout built environments. Not only does this give facility managers access to real-time data that helps identify inefficiencies in a building’s systems, it also reduces operating costs overall.
According to the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, in 2019 commercial buildings were responsible for consuming 18% of all energy used in the United States. And that number is growing; since 1980, the energy used in the commercial sector has nearly doubled. With energy costs rising and environmental concerns becoming more pressing, building owners are increasingly seeking ways to improve efficiency via building automation systems (BASs).
A building automation system allows for the control of a building’s operations through a central point, using automated means to manage HVAC, electrical, lighting, security, and other systems. These can vary in complexity, depending on the building type and primary objectives for installing it. But while each system should be customized for each building, there are basic elements the best building automation systems (BASs) have in common.
The origins of building management systems go back to 1883 and the invention of thermostats, simple devices that activated lights in buildings’ boiler rooms that indicated when a furnace required more coal. These devices evolved to automatically control steam radiators, hot water and, eventually, HVAC systems, with centralized systems slowly taking over operations as computer technology advanced. The late 1980s saw these systems converted to distributed digital computers (DDC) that communicated with the central system and, by the mid-1990s, the central computer could even communicate with the Internet.
Ensuring government buildings function day in and day out is a complex task. That’s why intelligent automation in government buildings is critical for alleviating the challenges of conventional building automation systems (BASs).
As a building owner, it’s prudent to evaluate your building management system (BMS) data to determine how efficiently your building performs over time compared to industry standards. This benchmarking can reveal important information, like that your energy consumption is higher than similar buildings. But simply knowing that your energy is unusually high doesn’t mean you have a clear path to reducing your energy bills or improving equipment performance.
Building automation has long been seen as the key to solving three problems: improving energy efficiency, reducing operating costs, and improving the occupant experience. Over the past decade, the possibilities of automation have greatly expanded, spurring building owners and facilities managers to invest heavily in automation systems in both new buildings and legacy properties.
Building management system vs. building automation system—is there a difference?
Even seasoned facilities managers may be surprised to find that building management system (BMS) and building automation system (BAS) are largely used interchangeably. Both terms refer to computer-based control platforms installed within commercial buildings that control and monitor mechanical and electrical equipment, such as HVAC, electric power systems, lighting, ventilation, and other core functions.
Whether you manage all aspects of your facilities or contract out maintenance and integration services, a fluid operation is essential to the success of commercial properties. This means attending to multiple, evolving, and, often, competing priorities—and compromised productivity can quickly have a negative impact.