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Building Automation System Basics: How to Improve Your Building's Efficiency

With a clear view and ease of control into the building’s systems, BAS users benefit from improved occupant comfort, more efficient operations, and reduced energy and operating costs.

On top of high energy bills, occupants of the space can experience discomfort due to uneven temperatures, sub-optimal temperatures or poor indoor air quality because equipment is not properly maintained, scheduled or controlled.

In most cases, the organizations don’t have insight into what equipment is operating inefficiently, costing their business the most, or the culprit of producing an uncomfortable environment for occupants. Without this information, no actions can be implemented to solve the issues. That’s where building automation system (BAS) controls come in.

What is a Building Automation System?

A building automation system is a network of microprocessor based wired or wireless controllers connected to diverse systems in a building to better manage the equipment and optimize a company's energy spend. BAS controls provide access to information on equipment performance and utility metering, and gives users the ability to easily schedule equipment and control it at a more granular level.

A BMS allows users to utilize a (typically) web-based interface or even their mobile devices to analyze their energy systems data, see trends, keep history logs, schedule hours of operation for each unit and troubleshoot any issues.

Building Automation System Equipment

Building automation system controls can be added to: boilers, chillers, pumps, air handling units, rooftop units, heat pumps, VAV boxes, radiators, fan coil units, exhaust fans, and more. Other items like water leak and gas detection sensors can be incorporated into a system to notify off-premise facility personnel of the failures and leak.

Remote User Interface

The current building automation system controls technology far exceeds what we have seen in the past. Historically, systems were proprietary and controls companies would license single use software at one computer making it restrictive to who and where it could be used. This software also came with a hefty monetary fee that was incurred on an annual basis.

The new browser-based systems can be used on computers, iPads or smartphones, giving users the ability to view their data and adjust it to best function for their company from anywhere in the world. Because it is cloud-based, any designated employee can access the system and easily monitor and adjust systems as needed.

Benefits of a Building Automation System

With a clear view and ease of control into the building’s systems, users benefit from improved occupant comfort, efficient operation of building systems, and reduction in energy consumption and operating costs. The new control systems also save a significant amount of time making employees responsible for maintaining the equipment more efficient.

For example, let’s say a building had 50 HVAC rooftop units. Each unit had a programmable thermostat that takes five minutes to set. Without controls, an employee would have to walk to each rooftop unit thermostat and program each one to operate at a certain time. That would take well over half a day. And if the schedule changed the next day, a holiday or special event for example, that entire process would have to be re-done. In cases like this, schedules are not adjusted and are simply left as is, resulting in use of the equipment when it’s not required and wasted energy dollars

With web based building automation system controls, all of those thermostats would be tied to one system and you can schedule various ones -- or all of them -- with just a few clicks of a mouse.

In some settings, such as an office environment, building automation controls can also communicate between different types of equipment. A lighting system with motion detectors would know that people were using a space and it could send a signal to the HVAC system to turn up the heat in the winter or enable the cooling to run in the summer, improving occupant comfort, increasing productivity and improving health.

Building automation system controls should be incorporated into every office building, industrial plant or commercial space to make energy systems easier to use and provide access to data from any device around the globe. Scheduling when the equipment will operate will also be a cinch and further boost the bottom line while saving money and improving productivity and health of all users.