May 2012
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AutomatedBuildings.com

Daikin Integration to BACnet, Modbus, KNX, WIFI, Mobile Apps
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What can the Smart Grid learn from Building Automation Systems?

Although the scalability of the two industries differs, the general principles and fundamental goals remain the same.

 Nirosha Munasinghe

Nirosha Munasinghe

MBusIT BSc BE (Hons) (Melb)

Contributing Editor


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The smart grid is evolving at a rapid speed with billions of dollars of investments and many players entering the market to capture a niche. The building automation system (BAS) industry has grown at a significant rate in the last decade driven by open protocols and web architecture.  Two different industries but one fundamental goal of sustainability to achieve energy efficiency while preserving global commodity resources. What can the smart grid learn from the BAS industry? What are the similarities”?

Figure 1: Smart Grid and Building Automation Synergies 
Figure 1: Smart Grid and Building Automation Synergies

Over the last decade building automation systems have transformed from “just another piece of equipment in a building” to a proactive system which has become the fundamental driver to energy efficiency in buildings. BAS have evolved from simple analog systems on separate networks to large networks integrated to corporate IT networks with data served via web architecture.  Applications have transformed from simple desktop software to enterprise based web applications with large capacity for data capturing. Open protocols, led by BACnet and LonWorks have been the key driver for the evolution.  The plethora of data from the various metrics of the buildings has opened up a market for data management and mining to display useful data to the correct audience at the right time. Open source projects such as Project Haystack are leading the way.

In a macro level the smart grid journey has similar parallels to the BAS growth over the last decade. The fundamental concept of the smart grid is the automation of the power distribution model to distribute power smartly and control the usage from the utility to consumer. This includes the automation of substations to end consumer meter management systems to publishing useful data upstream to the both retailers and consumers via web technology. 

Figure 2:  The high level architecture of smart grid and building automation 
Figure 2: The high level architecture of smart grid and building automation

Although the scalability of the smart grid solutions are much larger compared to BAS solutions, the primary purpose and high level architecture remains the same. Therefore, what can the smart grid learn from the BAS industry?

The smart grid will be an exciting and rewarding journey over the next decade. As it continues its growth, it can learn from the BAS industry in many ways to not only get the solutions right but to do it better. Although the scalability of the two industries differs, the general principles and fundamental goals remain the same. 

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