November 2019

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Building User Connection

There are system integrators, facility managers, investors and end-users, etc.. Each one is a building user connected to the building automation system.

Anna Koleja
Key Account Manager
Global Control 5 Sp. z. o.o.

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Building automation systems have definitely being transformed in the past few years. Engineers all over the world develop this system to be more intelligent, innovative, self-learning and, what is the most important, user-friendly. But let’s think about this last one: user-friendly. What does it mean? What makes the building automation system user-friendly? I think this is the key point of our business. After all, every step to create building automation technology and improve it - is for the user.

Let’s start from the beginning. How did it start? In 1883, Warren Johnson, a school teacher from Milwaukee, invented a thermostat. He created it to control the temperature in a building. When temperature goes under the setpoint, it indicated an alarm for janitors in the boiler room – they needed to shovel more coal into the furnace. This was the first time that someone created building control. Necessity is the mother of invention! By the way, this person founded a company, which still exists today and manufactures thermostats and other control devices. After over hundred years we are now at a very different point in technology development. Building automation consists of not only thermostats but also, and mainly of servers, computers and controllers. We had time to improve this technology and therefore increase user experience. We created the Internet of Things, which is inherent in building automation systems.

Nowadays, we have several types of building automation systems, and we have plenty of vendors. We can control almost everything in a building, every installation and device we need. It seems that the only obstacle is the functionality of the system we choose. Each building system has capacities and limitations. We can see it in issues like integration, flexibility, openness and ability to personalize the system. When we talk about building automation also environment-friendliness and energy effectiveness come to mind. These are important aspects too. Different types of users choose different types of the most significant feature of a building automation system. There are system integrators, facility managers, investors and end-users, etc.. Each one is a building user connected to the building automation system. 

Figure 1

Figure 1 - Types of Building User

Undoubtedly integration matters are the most significant; it’s the fever dream of every integrator and designer. Why? Because without integration, the building automation system is only one separated organ with limited functionality. Thanks to the Building Management System (BMS) we can make integration possible. We can integrate HVAC controllers; energy, heat, water and other meters; control access, CCTV, intrusion detection system, gas detection system and other installations and devices. For the building user, this means that he can have under control all these parts from one coherent platform. BMS provides facilities managers with the ability to quickly respond to problems and insights to optimize building installations operation. For example BMS shows consumption of energy in several points in building; it depends on number of meters. This means that the facility manager can check where the largest power consumption is in building, and if it’s not OK, then he can track the problem and accordingly solve it. When we have the possibility to control energy consumption, we can easily achieve greater efficiency.

Energy efficiency is a significant building subject. Due to applicable standards, we must control energy usage in all aspects: electricity usage, water usage, heat and cooling usage. Therefore several certification programs were created, ex. LEED and BREAM. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification system,  providing third-party verification that a building was designed and built according to improving performance strategies connected with: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality. BREAM is also an international scheme that provides independent third-party certification of assessment of the sustainability performance of buildings. BREEAM measures sustainable value in a series of categories like energy, water, waste, pollution, innovation, land use, management.

contemporary These certification programs help  building owners and operators identify and implement practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Certification is important for investors who invested in the building and are expecting to have bigger income. In this case it’s obvious that it will mean more tenants in the certificated building. There are several reasons. First of all, buildings with certification have better customer ratings and reputation, which can be important for certain clients. Second, buildings and installation in buildings must meet stringent requirements and standards to have certification. This means that all-important installations, ex. HVAC and light must be done with extreme care to provide high thermal comfort, proper luminous intensity  and cost-effectiveness. Building Management System helps to provide all these requirements. It turns off the lights according to occupancy, regulates temperature and humidity in rooms, turns off heating when somebody opens the windows, monitors electrical installations and controls cooling and heating sources. It takes under control energy consumption to provide higher effectiveness, makes useful diagrams and statistics, which are relevant to the facility manager and tenants.

In my opinion, all building users can agree with the statement that “BMS is invaluable for all building users these days.” BMS demand was boosted by Significant cost benefits to industrial, commercial, and residential users. The building management system (BMS) market was valued at USD 6.65 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach USD 19.25 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 16.71% between 2017 and 2023. Operating costs are the major worries for building owners. In the past, they had to incur a big expense in the maintenance of the building because of lack of advanced technology. Today they have advanced technology dedicated to building users, such as BMSs; therefore, buildings are more energy efficient. Reducing energy consumption transcends directly into reduced spending on energy; saving power provides a good financial opportunity for businesses and helps improve their profitability.

The building evolution that we are currently experiencing is definitely needed and unstoppable. It looks like it's a win-win situation all around.


About the Author

Anna Koleja, MSc Engineer in Power Engineering.  Automation systems and new technologies enthusiast. Involved in the building automation industry for nearly 6 years.  Currently acting as Key Account Manager for Global Control 5.


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