Building Automation Systems are widely used in commercial and industrial buildings as they provide better control and management of building systems mainly the HVAC system, as well as optimize energy use with the goal of reducing energy costs. Over the years, the BAS industry has advanced rapidly with the development of protocols like BACnet. Today’s BAS are engineered for their ease of use and more power to control multiple building systems from a unified platform. In this article we take a look at what a building automation system can do for you and its various benefits.
Building Automation System
Building automation system is the unified platform for the automated controls of a building’s HVAC system, lighting, security and other systems throughout a building or multiple buildings. A BAS works with the goal of increasing building energy efficiency and lowering maintenance costs of a building. Additionally, building automation system is an energy management system that helps property managers and building owners bring down energy costs by efficiently controlling heating, ventilation and air conditioning of a building while ensuring occupants’ comfort.
How does building automation system work?
BAS is basically integration of mechanical, electrical systems and equipment with microprocessors that communicate with each other and are sometimes connected to a computer. Moreover, the controllers and computers in the building automation system can either be connected to the internet or remain as a separate system for local peer- to-peer controller networks. Additionally, the BAS controllers themselves do not require a computer to implement the control tasks as the controllers come with their own inbuilt processors.
Every building automation system is composed of a set of common components including:
Sensors — These are devices which measure various aspects of a building such as CO2 output, temperature, humidity, or even the number of occupants in a room through occupancy sensors. The sensors transmit the data to a central controller.
Controllers — These components are basically the brains of the BAS as they process the data received from sensors and send commands on how the system will respond.
Output devices — These carry out the commands from the controller and include relays and actuators. For example, these can increase or decrease temperature in a particular part of the building, turn off lights in unused spaces, or turn on the air conditioning at a scheduled time.
Communications protocols — The BAS uses a specific language that can be interpreted by the system’s individual components. Two of the most widely used communication protocols in BAS are BACnet and Modbus.
Dashboard or user interface — This is basically the platform or interface users utilize to interact with the BAS. It displays information so that building managers and owners can monitor the condition of the building, alter control settings and so on.
In a conventional automated building there can be several building automation systems controllers for different types of air conditioning and heating equipment. However, BAS is not just limited to HVAC system and can include lighting, security, fire alarms and so on. Depending on the industry, equipment, building size and various other factors, the BAS engineer needs to choose the appropriate BAS system.
Here is a list of functions an efficient Building Automation System can perform:
Scheduling various building systems
Building automation system allows building managers to create routine schedules for enhanced comfort of occupants and maximize energy savings. For example, start heating on before occupants arrive, turning off lighting systems in offices after office hours and so on.
Energy monitoring system
An efficient BAS will have the ability to monitor energy usage in a building, including serve as an energy meter for various utilities such as electricity, gas, water, hot water and so on.
Triggering and sending alerts
BAS can enable setting up trigger points that allow alerts to be directly sent to building personnel via text or email for necessary action to be taken. For example, triggers can be set up for humidity levels, CO2 output, number of occupants and so on. When the operator receives the alert, actions can be implemented for corrective measures that would restore system efficiency and increase occupants comfort. This can also be used for fault detection and prevent costly repairs.
Optimize building systems
BAS works to regulate and optimize various building systems including the HVAC system. For example, it can optimize airflow from external sources which in turn regulates indoor air quality, provides optimal temperature and enhances user comfort.
Integrate adaptive learning
Today’s advanced building automation systems can be integrated with IoT and AI which allows adaptive learning. This provides enhanced performance of building systems and reduces utility bills. For instance, adaptive learning enables the system to compare indoor temperature to outside environment conditions and turn off or on the HVAC system or set proper temperature as required without any human intervention.
Since HVAC systems are major energy consuming building components, an efficient building automation and controls system provides full HVAC monitoring, even remotely through HVAC monitoring apps. It can let you know when an HVAC unit is running in both heating and cooling and help you cut down utility costs.
Provide historic data
Modern BAS offers a repository of useful building analytics data that facility managers or building managers can use to optimize efficiency, identify energy saving scope and cut down costs.
Although the main goal of BAS is to improve system efficiency, reduce costs and increase occupants comfort, over the years it has become an essential component in running and maintaining building systems efficiently and smoothly. As old technology becomes obsolete, it is important to upgrade the building automation and controls to ensure it is up to date with newer software. Connect with A-TECH Engineering Ltd– a leading building automation system and controls provider in Toronto and find out how we can transform your building into a smart and energy saving building for tomorrow.