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How IoT Technology is Improving Building Automation Systems

IoT technology paired with building automation system can save building managers time, money, and energy

Building automation solutions are powerful tools for building management. Before building automation, building systems operated individually and with limited insight or capability to predict or locate issues within the system. While building automation systems (BAS) are powerful, they can quickly become outdated and in need of some major upgrades. That’s why we are discussing the IoT (Internet of Things) and how these building automation solutions can improve your building.

You may be thinking—“Why would I need to implement IoT technology when my BAS system is still working properly?” Well, you are in luck! That is exactly what we are going to be exploring today. We’ll be discussing all of the opportunities and advantages associated with implementing IoT technology as a building automation solution and how you can use IoT to improve the smart technology—like lighting control systems—within the building. Before we can get started exploring the advantages of implementing IoT, we need to take a look at the current state of building automation systems and how they can be improved. Let’s get started!

What are Building Automation Systems (BAS)?

BAS systems still play a critical role in the management of large buildings

IoT improves building automation with added reporting and automation capabilities.

Building automation technology is not a new concept. Large buildings are often complicated and require near-constant maintenance, which is why we’ve been developing ways to make life easier for building managers and prevent breakdowns with preventative maintenance. Recently, building automation systems have become far more advanced and have played a critical role in the advent of smart buildings. Now, BAS systems can monitor, control, and track the performance of every system in the building from HVAC to plumbing.

Why are Building Automation Systems Lacking as Technology Progresses?

Though traditional BAS systems made life easier, many are now considered out-of-date and require an upgrade

BAS systems need to be upgraded every few years as the technology develops.

There are a few major reasons why building automation systems require an upgrade. The first reason is scalability. When buildings rely on hard-wired BAS systems, they become difficult—and in some cases impossible—to scale. These complex networks basically stay as they are until it is time for an expensive and invasive upgrade, which is a less than ideal situation for most building managers. As building automation solutions improve and add new aspects—like sensors for example—your BAS system quickly becomes out of date.

Because these BAS systems are fixed and can only handle so many inputs at a time, there are often functionalities missing that are now industry standard for smart buildings. Let’s take an HVAC system for example. It is now industry standard for an HVAC system to rely on several types of sensors to function properly. These can include heat sensors, light sensors, and occupancy sensors. Not to mention, these sensors are now likely connected to your standard HVAC and an air filtration system in our post-COVID-19 world. With a fixed, hard-wired BAS system, these inputs can overload your system or are impossible to install using a hard-wired system.

It is also common that older BAS systems are unable to successfully integrate different building automation solutions to view the building holistically. For example, some building automation systems exclude or separate critical pieces of building control like lighting control, security, and other alarm systems. When these systems are kept separate from the other building systems, management wastes time and energy putting all of the pieces together.

For these reasons, BAS systems are currently just not cutting it when it comes to holistic and efficient building management. That’s why we are focusing on IoT and building automation solutions to show how the technology can solve the major problems associated with older BAS systems. Let’s find out how building owners and managers can save time, money, and energy by implementing IoT technology.

How IoT Improves Building Automation Systems

IoT allows buildings to upgrade their BAS without worrying about exorbitant costs or prolonged downtime

IoT technology offers some of the best building automation solutions currently available.

As smart building technology and building automation solutions expand their reach and become more ubiquitous in large-scale buildings, management technology has struggled to catch up. So far, just relying on a BAS system alone is not cutting it, which is why IoT building automation solutions present such an exciting opportunity for building owners, managers, and tenants. Here are just a few of the reasons that so many buildings are adopting IoT technology to improve their building automation systems:

1.   IoT Devices are Easy to Install and Upgrade

One of the distinct advantages of using IoT technology as a building automation solution is the easy and inexpensive installation process. These days, a lot of sensors are battery-operated and do not require professional installation. As long as the sensors are connected to the IoT, they can pull important data and report directly to the BAS—all without the need for expensive and invasive hard-wiring. As the BAS receives the information from the IoT devices, it can automatically create workflows, report errors, and notify managers when maintenance is needed. Depending on the size of your building and the need for these IoT-capable devices, you could be saving a significant amount of time, labor, money, and energy on your building operations.

Another key feature of these IoT building automation solutions is the ability to view all building aspects at once. As we mentioned before, older BAS systems tend to separate the systems operating in a building when it is far more beneficial to view all of the building data as a whole. There is also great flexibility afforded by integrating these IoT devices into your BAS as you can move the sensors around without interrupting the connection or making any renovations to the building.

2.   Energy Saving Capabilities

We’ve already mentioned how implementing IoT technology helps building owners and managers save time, money, and energy—but we have yet to discuss how these building automation solutions save energy.

Let’s use HVAC as an example again. When it comes to energy consumption, HVAC often makes up to 50% of the total energy used in building management, which means there is always room for improvement. With an older BAS system, it is easy to waste energy overheating or over air conditioning the interior of the building. Until IoT sensors became commonly used, there were no building automation solutions to cut down on wasteful HVAC operations.

Now, using IoT-capable sensors for temperature and occupancy, your BAS system is capable of monitoring and controlling temperature changes based on data from the sensors. Since the heating and cooling are now automated by the sensors, there is no room for energy-wasting human error.

3.   Increased Building Monitoring Capabilities

In addition to the money-saving capabilities associated with IoT technology, there are also benefits when it comes to building monitoring and reporting. Using IoT-capable sensors, there are several ways that building managers can get greater insight into building operations, maintenance alerts, and energy usage trends than ever before.

For example, there a building manager can now install fire and water sensors around the building to immediately report any safety concerns to the BAS. Using this building automation solution, leaks in your plumbing are picked up by an internal sensor, the information is then instantly communicated to your BAS via the IoT, and the plumbing is automatically shut off. This is the same for fire alarms and other emergency functionalities. When your IoT sensors report any sign of fire emergency, your BAS system will immediately respond by unlocking emergency doors, sounding alarms, and shutting down any internal systems that could cause or exacerbate the emergency.

4.   Improved Conditions for Building Inhabitants

When it comes to building ownership and management, success depends on satisfied tenants. That’s why it is so important that building automation solutions are constantly providing managers with the relevant information they need to improve building conditions. Considering how smart home technology has become so popular and widely used recently, tenants are savvier than ever when it comes to building automation. Not only that, but tenants are increasingly aware of how these automated systems keep all building inhabitants safe and comfortable. Because of this, many building owners and managers are realizing that their current BAS system may not be able to keep up with market demands.

One instance where IoT sensors help improve life for all inhabitants is by using occupancy sensors to manage cleaning and maintenance. If there are very highly trafficked areas of the building, integrated motion sensors will notify cleaning staff when a certain number of people have visited an area of the building—for this example let’s use a public restroom. After a certain number of people are detected using the restroom, cleaning staff is automatically notified and will clean the restroom and replace all necessary supplies. By using IoT motion sensors to manage building cleanliness, all inhabitants have a higher level of satisfaction while using building facilities.

5.   More Incentives for Potential Tenants

Using IoT sensors, building owners can offer greater incentives to prospective tenants than ever before—all without having to invest the capital to upgrade your hardwired building automation system. There are so many ways that tenants will be able to utilize the data coming from the IoT sensors placed around the building. Let’s take a look at how each building automation solution offers value to potential tenants:

  • Occupancy sensors –  Perfect for retail tenants. Your tenants will be able to track occupancy and design the retail space around data regarding the most highly trafficked areas of the store.
  • Temperature sensors – Using temperature sensors, tenants can take advantage of a fully automated HVAC that helps conserve energy and save money.
  • Light sensors – Light sensors help tenants avoid over-lighting their space and create natural lighting landscapes that are safe and appealing to all visitors.
  • Motion sensors – Motion sensors increase interior and exterior building security measures.
  • Water sensors – Sensors installed in the plumbing system help monitor and optimize building water usage and provide early leak detection.

These are just a few of the many incentives that IoT building automation solutions provide for potential tenants. In general, the more data that your BAS can use, the more incentives you can offer your tenants. So, if you are a building owner or manager using an outdated BAS system, now is the time to upgrade using IoT.

Overall, if you are looking for a low-cost, high-value way to upgrade your current BAS system. IoT sensors are the ways to go. Using IoT, you can unlock a whole host of capabilities that help you save money, save energy, make building operations more intuitive, and add value for tenants.

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