If your business owns or operates a building for either development, service, or retail purposes then at some point you need to evaluate a “Building Automation” plan. At first the task may seem daunting, but the technology is so sophisticated and well-developed that it is very simple to understand.
At the most fundamental level an automated building simply connects all of the building systems into one integrated control environment. Beneath the surface of this statement is the fact that all of your building’s devices are communicating to a central control system. Each device in your building is basically smart… it knows how to communicate its current state and respond to requests to change its state.
Buildings all over the world are upgrading to full “Building Automation” as it helps keep occupants comfortable, safe, and productive — while reducing energy use and the carbon footprint. Recent examples of building automation conversions are: Paris Louvre museum, Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium, quick service restaurants, and many public school buildings.
For your Building Automation plan to work it relies on a standard communication protocol such as “LonWorks” or “BACnet”. These protocols are simply the language that your building speaks. Next, all the devices in your building such as such as sensors, thermostats, motion detectors, air handlers, security monitoring, and file alarms all need to talk to a “Building Controller”. Your building controller is a software application that understands every device in your building. These applications can implement a wide range of policies determined by the building professional to balance comfort and energy savings, including how to respond to a request from the grid for energy reduction or a signal from the grid with variable pricing.
In order to evaluate the long term cost of upgrading to a full “building automation” architecture you need to review your existing utility expenses, potential loss from unauthorized building access and potential loss from non-monitored utility failures. A building automation system typically reduces energy usage by 30%. The loss from unauthorized access and utility failure is hard to quantify and typically is assessed through historical records.