The Benefits of Building Automation

Whether you work at a manufacturing plant, an office building, a school or a hospital, building automation helps ensure you have an efficient workspace. It improves employee comfort, which boosts productivity and reduces stress levels. It also enhances the performance and lifespan of systems like computers and elevators. And it safeguards against indoor pollutants, security threats and mechanical failures that can cause dangerous situations or damage to buildings and people.

The physical computer-based control design that manages all of this, including sensors and actuators, is called a building automation system (BAS). The first systems – considered direct digital control (DDC) — came out in the 1970s and replaced pneumatic and analog controls.

A modern BAS can be used to control a variety of functions, from lighting to heating and cooling to even access control. But the real value of a BAS lies in its ability to deliver advanced tools that can collect data and help you understand how your building works, where it is inefficient or in need of repair, and what the best course of action should be to maximize efficiency, comfort, and safety.

BAS technologies collect data via smart meters and sensors, which send it to a central controller that then adjusts systems accordingly. This allows your facility to operate within specific energy use guidelines and saves on utility bills. For example, a system with occupancy sensors will turn off lights in empty rooms. And it can set your HVAC to run at a lower level during the day when no one will be in your buildings, but will ramp up to meet demand in the evening when everyone is coming back.

Other features of a BAS include air quality monitoring and control. Sensors can alert you to issues such as high humidity or dangerous gasses, and your BAS will automatically correct the problem. It can also monitor temperature and other conditions in the room and automatically notify your maintenance crew when something is amiss.

Your BAS can also connect to other software platforms, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), which enables your facility to track financials and inventory. And when integrated with a cloud-based solution, your BAS can be managed remotely from almost anywhere.

As technology advances, new features are constantly being added to BAS systems that make them more powerful and useful. For instance, the addition of machine learning to BAS systems has shifted the focus from energy consumption to energy efficiency. It can detect when your buildings are at their highest usage and then shut down or operate at a lower level to prevent peak load. This lessens the strain on your electrical system and allows the rest of it to be available to others.

In the future, you can expect your building to essentially learn from itself and make changes on its own. It will re-program itself to reduce its environmental impact, maximize energy efficiency and provide better comfort for all of its occupants.

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