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Next generation building management systems

Next generation building management systems

ConstructionGreen TechnologySoftwareTop Stories

The building management system (BMS) or building automation system (BAS), is a critical tool for operating a building safely, efficiently and reliably. However, a hyper focus on energy efficiency and sustainability combined with fundamental changes in tenant needs and expectations are straining traditional BMS implementations pushing them to grow and evolve.

At the same time, advancements in cloud computing, IoT, analytics and Artificial Intelligence are leading to new and broader capabilities.

With these as underlying technologies, next generation BMSs have become the integration and aggregation tool for all the building’s data across multiple business and operations technology (OT) systems and sensors.

By managing and controlling all the building’s OT in concert with each other, energy and operational efficiency can be maximised while enhancing occupant productivity and well-being.

A typical traditional building has a BAS or BMS that is limited to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and perhaps lighting, access control and power monitoring. The facility manager and their operations team use it simply to monitor for problems and do basic controls.

This traditional model is going away. Change is being driven by three fundamental factors:

  • Increasing demand for efficiency and sustainability
  • Changing tenant/occupant requirements and expectations
  • Emergence of newer IT, IoT and smart building technologies

Efficiency and sustainability

Without question, buildings have a significant impact on the global environment. According to APC by Sneider Electric, when indirect emissions from upstream power generation are considered, buildings were responsible for 28% of global energy-related cardon dioxide emissions in 2018. In absolute terms, buildings-related cardon dioxide emissions [had risen] for the second year in a row to an all-time high and when construction is included, buildings represent approximately 40% of global cardon dioxide emissions.

Environmental impact aside, building energy use has a significant impact on operations’ budgets. In fact, it is estimated that roughly one third of total non-fixed operating expenses go towards energy consumption. As a result, there is growing regulatory, financial and social pressure on commercial real estate firms and building owners to reduce energy consumption and to ultimately decarbonise their building operations. This pressure, which is increasingly a requirement to reduce energy use, means there is a more intense need for detailed energy monitoring and real-time controls.

Traditional BMS systems are not well positioned to do this. A modern, next generation BMS provides the tools needed to fully optimise energy use and comply with growing societal pressure and governmental climate regulations.

Changing tenant/occupant needs

Tenant expectations are changing and this is driving the BMS to do more. People that rent and work in buildings have a growing awareness of climate change and sustainability issues, and a desire to be energy efficient both for the good of the environment and for economic reasons.

Efficient, reliable buildings that focus on tenant health, safety, well-being and productivity have a distinct competitive advantage for owners. This change in tenant needs and expectations is changing the facility manager’s scope.

At the same time, a new generation of workers, residents and hotel guests expect to be hyper-connected to the people and systems around them and influence their surroundings via digital tools.

Meeting these needs requires smart building technology that can be managed and controlled by BMS. Traditional BMS systems are not well architected for this.

Newer IoT and smart building technologies

Building management systems have been evolving, in part, as its underlying technologies have improved over time. For example, older traditional systems provided very simple controls of HVAC equipment using pneumatic (compressed air), analogue and electro-mechanical type controls.

Today, the growing use of standardised IP protocols between systems and devices simplify and enable BMSs to be more than just simple mechanical automation systems. The explosion in the IoT phenomena has meant that it is easier and less expensive for manufacturers and system integrators of buildings tech to add microprocessor-based controls, sensors and IP network connectivity to more of their devices and systems. And this ease of connecting devices and systems using standard IP protocols means that a BMS can not only monitor and control more, but it moves the BMS from serving only the facility manager to directly assisting tenants.

As the scope of the BMS grows, there is an opportunity to use Big Data analytics and AI technologies on the data to make building operations and management more automated, efficient, reliable and proactive.

Cloud computing provides the compute power, storage space and security needed to enable analytics and AI. The ability to easily scale compute power and storage capacity makes it ideal for training Machine Learning algorithms.

These IT and IoT related technology evolutions have enabled the development of so-called smart building technology. An effective, next generation building management system is a platform for integrating building, business, device IoT data and segment-specific specialty systems such as air quality monitoring for hospitals or room booking systems for hotels.

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