Effective building automation systems design can offer a number of distinct advantages for building owners, occupants and facilities managers. The most common type of automation applications maintain lighting and comfortable temperature levels while reducing energy costs, but automation and controls can handle many other sophisticated tasks as well. Building control systems are only as effective as their design, however, so it’s important to identify and engage a knowledgeable and competent engineering consultant early in the planning stages of the project.
The Advantages of Building Automation Technology
The power of building automation systems (BAS) is such that the technology has become almost ubiquitous today for medium-to-large commercial facilities. From an economic perspective, BAS can significantly reduce power use and the associated costs. Ecologically, building controls have been proven to decrease the environmental footprint of those companies that implement them – significantly in many cases. The frequency of replacing costly HVAC and electrical equipment is reduced as BAS curtails wear and tear and alerts you early to any potential problems. Automation systems free up key facilities personnel, allowing them to turn their attention to less mundane tasks. Finally, building occupants enjoy a more secure environment and an increased level of comfort, even while usage, costs and downtime drop. Today’s BAS interfaces are easy to use. Whether you have a single building or an enterprise-level portfolio of properties, you can view status and control systems remotely, using a desktop, laptop, tablet or even a smartphone.
A Powerful Scope of Automation Services
Typically, BAS services control some or all aspects of the facility’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. On the mechanical side, this may include boilers, chillers, air handlers, fans and heat pumps. Electrical aspects may include security systems, lighting, CCTV, fire alarms or building access. BAS can even monitor and control plumbing systems and the water resources used in the facility’s central plant (chilled, hot or condensed water). Services can also be expanded to incorporate many types of specialized technology, including communications systems, servers and clean rooms.
Effective BAS Design for Achieving Desired Outcomes
Although new technology has transformed automation from the complex, difficult-to-understand behemoths of the past, today’s user-friendly systems are more challenging than ever to design and plan. For any customer considering or planning a remodel or new facility construction project, a qualified BAS engineer is critical for even the earliest phases of the project. Involving your engineer in the early stages of design can greatly improve the cost of the project. This proactive approach can also cut time from the schedule and, perhaps most importantly, ensure that all aspects of the system meet your needs. Consider using the design-build approach with your engineer, which delivers the most benefit to the client while reducing the project cost and time to completion. Your BAS engineering consultant can assist with drafting construction plans and specifications and help your general contractor select and manage those vendors and subcontractors necessary to handle the installation and programming.
When selecting a mechanical, electrical or automation systems engineer, look for a professional firm that is responsive and seeks above all to understand your needs and goals. Conducting research to find the right engineer prior to launching your project will help ensure a successful building automation systems design.
Author: Jillynn Stevens, Ph.D., MSW