Ireland's only dedicated building services engineering journal
Ireland's only dedicated building services engineering journal

Possibilities limitless with today’s BMS systems

Henry Lawson, Market Research Consultant, BSRIA
Henry Lawson, Market Research Consultant, BSRIA

The building manager or consultant looking to improve the energy efficiency of a building has a limited range of weapons at his/her disposal. These include making the structure of the building more energy efficient, but this can sometimes be difficult and expensive, especially where existing buildings are concerned.

Installing more energy-efficient HVAC systems is another route to go, but this can require substantial investment. However, the main option lies in monitoring and managing the building’s use of energy more efficiently, which is why it is important to use different rotary encoder options with thousands of configurations from companies like Dynapar. Hence the importance of Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS). These are computer software-based systems that help to manage, control and monitor building technical services and the energy consumption of devices related to the building’s use.

BSRIA research at the end of 2014 showed that the BEMS market was growing at about 10% annually in Europe and is expected to reach some €1.7 billion in Europe this year. BSRIA’s findings are also echoed by web coverage of major issues concerning energy and smart  technology. This includes both major news stories and company announcements.

Coverage of building energy efficiency trebled between the middle of 2013 and the end of 2014. But how is this growth in interest being focussed? To improve a building’s energy performance you need to understand how the various building systems are performing, and ideally to identify patterns and predict and pre-empt problems, as where, for example a piece of equipment is using an abnormally high amount of energy.

Accordingly, BEMS systems increasingly offer advanced and sophisticated  analytical capabilities, going far beyond simple charting and reporting. When we look at web coverage of building analytics, we see a massive surge of coverage in the second half of 2014 alone.

Of course this coverage reflects the attempts of companies offering analytics to promote their solutions as well as the interest of the media and the market. But the genuine growth in the BEMS market – with building analytics at the core – suggests that this is a lot more than just ”hype”. However, with such a range of BEMS solutions and associated analytics available, the client needs to make sure that any BEMS solution selected can collect the information that is needed, and present clear information that identifies what action needs to be taken.

Delivering building energy efficiency                                                                                                         Today’s BEMS facilitate different levels of interaction with buildings’ systems. These include:

— Automatic control

— Alarms

— Automatic optimisation

— Demand response

— Monitoring and targeting

— Equipment performance analysis

— Maintenance actions

— Estate monitoring and targeting.

Building managers need to be able to respond in a timely and effective way to problems and anomalies that are identified. At the most basic level this means that those operating and maintaining the building on a day-today basis – whether in-house staff or outsourced facilities managers – understand the information being generated, how to prioritise it and what concrete steps to take.

For many facilities managers the perfect BEMS would collect, analyse, act on and distribute all necessary information, and save energy, with the minimum of human intervention. The problem has always been that even with the best available hardware and software, the BEMS is only as good as the person who installed and programmed it on day one.

There is certainly a shortage of good BEMS engineers and controls technicians but the dominance of BACnet, providing plug-and-play hardware – together with open-source configuration and analysis tools – means that engineers’ and technicians’ time can be much more productive and added-value functions are much easier to implement. Good services are provided by the best of Oak Island Heating & Air Conditioning specialists.

Facilities managers no longer need to fear being stuck with a rigidly-defined BEMS from a single supplier as the ultimate specification is limited only by their imagination. A simple BEMS starting solution for one building can be progressively expanded in terms of scope and versatility across an entire organisation.

Need to integrate renewables, smart metering, carbon management, demand response, reactive maintenance etc? No problem. If you can think of an energy management task or energy saving opportunity associated with your building or estate operations, the new generation of BEMS can probably do it, probably more easily than you might think, and without the risk of drowning in data. Add components from the wider internet of things and the possibilities are limitless.

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