building automation systemsThe primary goal of contemporary building automation systems (BAS) is to facilitate the most efficient use of energy. This is typically accomplished by networking components responsible for the monitoring and operation of mechanical, security, fire, lighting, HVAC and humidity control and ventilation systems.

To that end, digital and electronic equipment is used to keep a building’s temperature within a specified range and illuminate the interior based upon scheduled occupancies.  These systems also keep tabs on performance and device failures, as well a trigger alarms when malfunctions are detected.

With that in mind, let’s look at the ABC’s of building automation systems.

Key Equipment

BAS systems can be configured to interact with a wide variety of components including: lighting equipment, boilers, chillers, pumps, air handling units, rooftop units, heat pumps, VAV boxes, radiators, fan coil units, exhaust fans, sprinkler systems (for both landscaping and fire suppression), doors, gates, elevators and escalators.

Remote user building automation interfaces have been developed for tablets and smartphones as well as desktop computers. The facility manager can both operate and monitor key systems from anywhere they have access to the internet. Cloud-based security protocols make it more difficult for would-be interlopers to break in and wreak havoc.

BAS controllers are grouped into three categories.

  1. Programmable Logic — for overall system management
  2. System/Network — for more complex mechanical devices
  3. Terminal Unit — for lighting and simple mechanical devices

Additional components can be added to incorporate third party systems such as a stand-alone AC system into a central BAS.

How They Work

Data supplied by various sensors such as occupancy sensors, RFID scanners, motion detectors, and other smart components is analyzed and employed to automatically adjust various operations. This, in turn, improves performance, reduces energy consumption, minimizes waste and eases operating costs.

Automated systems can include:

  • Electrical – Monitoring and management components maintain operation of power systems at optimal efficacy.
  • Lighting Occupancy sensors as well as scheduling inputs activate interior illumination as required. Photoelectric sensors inform exterior systems such as signage, parking lots and walkways. These too, can be adjusted with scheduling inputs. Managing lighting in this fashion has been proven to reduce energy costs by as much as 30 percent.
  • Temperature – Time and zone controls — working in coordination with occupancy sensors — trigger the activation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. This enables building owners to ensure occupant comfort while controlling expenses.
  • Air Quality Control – The presence of CO2 and other dangerous gasses is monitored by sensors to inform the HVAC system when to activate the ventilation system to purge them when detected.
  • Security – Access control for doors, elevators, escalators and gates can be initiated based upon input from remote cameras. Video can also be recorded to provide incident records and reporting. These functions minimize the likelihood of unwanted visitors entering the building and threatening tenants.

Primary Benefits Include

We touched on a few of the advantages to be derived from BAS integration. As you might expect, incorporating them into new buildings should go without saying. However, they can also be of considerable benefit when retrofitted to older structures to improve the efficiency of their building operations.

This, in no small part, is the beauty of building automation systems. They can range from single, stand-alone systems in smaller structures, to large building management solutions configured to control sprawling compounds such as university campuses and industrial parks.

Hopefully, gaining some understanding of the ABC’s of building automation systems helps further your endeavor to improve the efficiency of your facilities.


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