Insights 10th May 2021 building automation

Building management systems are dead.

Long live intelligent building operating systems.

Picture the scene: The building management system has flagged an error with the air-conditioning system. It will require inspection and repair by a team of certified engineers, who will need to be booked for three weekends’ worth of out-of-hours on-site work. Their attendance is costly, and it also carries the risk of human error. When they leave, the system may still not function at maximum capacity. All the HVAC units will continue to require regular inspections, and the commissioning of a maintenance contract. It’s a headache, and an expensive one at that.

Now here’s an alternative. The intelligent building operating system is linked to the air-con system via cloud based smart meters connected through internet-of-things technology. The building operating system has set automated parameters under which the air-con system must operate. If it fails to perform within those markers, engineers are notified. They log into the system to make checks and changes. What’s more, they have the ability to perform remote testing of the entire building within just a couple of hours. Through automated testing, they are able to understand, in a controlled environment, exactly which units require work. This information enables targeted maintenance. Digital twin simulations can also be employed to recreate various breakdown or emergency scenarios and test the resilience of the building’s performance.

Spot the difference? While the legacy building management system is limited to acting as a general flare, the state-of-the-art intelligent building system precision-identifies, diagnoses, and makes adjustments, to solve the problem without human intervention. Smart building control systems mean focused, automated, and targeted maintenance. When necessary, they facilitate a two-way conversation between engineers and the building itself.

IBOS aggregates data from multiple legacy platforms

The intelligent building operating system pulls in data from multiple legacy platforms for security, safety, community, heating and cooling systems, which are often siloed with data difficult to access. These are often insufficiently connected, preventing portfolio-level analysis and optimisation of operations.

By contrast, intelligent buildings aggregate data from existing building services and smart meters in real time, gathered remotely, and displayed via a dashboard showing energy consumption around the clock. Using the latest IoT technology, these systems provide a cloud-based platform to monitor, combine and analyse multiple data sets, whether from single assets or across whole portfolios.

No BMS required to create intelligent buildings

The most sophisticated cloud- and site-based intelligent building automation systems interface with buildings that do not have a BMS in place. With a simple configuration to monitor central plant systems, they detect failures in mechanical and electrical equipment, reduce energy usage costs, reduce the carbon footprint of the building, and feed data into address Net Zero ratings. This negates the need to rely on dated building management systems. These can be expensive to install and maintain and require on-site engineering access control and resource to operate.

Even the smallest buildings benefit

Not just reserved for enormous shiny city skyscrapers, this kind of tech is accessible to even the smallest and most modest of buildings. Whereas traditional building management systems have been inherently very expensive to install, making them cost-prohibitive for commercial buildings under the 50,000 sq. ft threshold, cloud-based smart building systems can be right-sized and cost-effective for buildings of any footprint. They can also be made to link smaller properties into larger portfolios, so that assets can be measured as one. This can be particularly helpful when trying to measure sustainability and carbon emissions, achieve energy savings or get a clear picture of portfolio-wide water consumption, for example.

The functionality of this kind of data platform enables the depth of analytics required to facilitate the automation of operations and remote engineering capabilities. These are essential to meet the level of operational and environmental performance required by today’s occupiers and investors.

Commercial real estate needs to get smart and an intelligent building operating system is the key to delivering smart buildings.

By James Hallworth, Senior Associate, Workman

Read more about Workman’s IBOS, as reported by EG.