Has your existing Building Automation System been abandoned?
November 9, 2021 in Industry News

Has your existing Building Automation System been abandoned?

There are a variety of building automation systems ( BAS ) in buildings today that should be measuring and controlling a building’s energy performance. Theoretically, BAS’s gather and analyze data in a systematic way outputting various reports that provide actionable intelligence for your operating staff that optimizes a buildings energy performance.  Regrettably, and in most cases,  this isn’t happening. A number of BAS systems were installed in buildings 5 to 15 years ago and in stages, but today most of these systems are sitting dormant with limited or no access to critical operating data or simply abandoned.

Where do we go from here? 

Conducting an opportunity assessment is a good place to start. Since every building is different, the approach would be to review all existing systems, controls, and contracts with vendors and asking questions about building operations and how these systems have been set up regarding sequence of operations, control settings and monitoring.  The opportunity assessment includes the analysis of 2 to 3 years of utility data. It’s important to understand the energy use pattern of the building to confirm if the existing control systems are in fact working and that the building is being operated as efficiently as possible. 

In many cases, building owners and property managers have been inhibited by proprietary control systems from improving building performance. BAS systems and a multitude of standalone controllers (i.e. with no internet access) are connected to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) building assets. However, all these building control systems come in different makes and brands, with a variety of programmed software. Too often, these control systems operate in non-integrated “silos” within a building and across a building owner’s portfolio of buildings.

Consequently, building owners are limited to the capabilities within a control vendor’s platform to improve their buildings’ performance and they feel trapped by a combination of various vendors, control systems, maintenance service contracts and expensive software and service upgrades. This leads to a lack of integration of systems and control standardization within their buildings.

This is, in fact, the problem because there are redundant data streams, software and control systems that don’t communicate with each other. There are too many different technologies that are overlaid. Things have been added piecemeal over the years to the point that the original system design standards are out of date which in turn necessitates an evaluation on possible improvements to the BAS system or a full replacement. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) technology and devices have opened the door to BAS Integration. New IoT technology is plug and play which makes it simpler to expand the features and capabilities of an existing BAS. IoT’s superior functionality results in simpler data integration, extraction and data report presentation. 

Building operators have always been responsible for all building systems, HVAC, controls, and electrical distribution. They have been challenged by not having enough clear data to make the right system decisions. Most of these existing systems have raw data — there are no trends, no analytics, no way to see what the data means in the real world. The one positive point here is that the existing BAS infrastructure of hard-wired control and monitoring points in most cases can still be used (with no additional costs ) as you consider the re-design of an IOT BAS integration strategy.

Part of the re-designed IOT BAS benefits is that data can be organized in a client specific dashboard. Building operators and other stakeholders select what data is critical to be viewed on the dashboard so that quick decisions can be made for effective operation of a building’s energy assets. 

You will need to match the right stakeholders with the information that is most important to them. You will also want to know what kind of information each stakeholder needs and how best to present it in order to develop the right control system dashboard. Creating the right analytics provides the information the operations manager and staff need to make the best decisions.

It’s time to upgrade existing BAS systems with an integrated IOT BAS strategy that opens the door to real time data that’s properly sorted and analyzed for making the right decisions. The goal here is to achieve building energy performance results that significantly reduce both operating costs & greenhouse gases (GHG) putting more money back in building owners/operators pockets and contributing to the emission reductions that are so crucial to minimize the looming environmental crisis.

With Sensorsuite’s years of building systems experience and know-how, we can assist clients in resolving BAS system issues and help them eliminate the “BS & confusion” that exists in the HVAC controls industry due to poor communications & a lack of building systems knowledge.  We provide an effective communication bridge between building owners and HVAC control vendors to achieve building BAS integration and energy performance results that you can bank on! 

Mario P Iusi

EVP at SensorSuite Inc.

mario.iusi@sensorsuite.com