10 Things Your BAS Can’t Do (That Energy Management Software Can) January 8, 2016 | Kelia Cowan

Building automation systems are powerful tools. By automating the centralized controls of a building, property managers are able to program a building to start up, heat or cool to a particular temperature, and shut down all in one place.

However, the power of a building automation system (BAS), also known as a building management system (BMS), can only go so far. Since a BAS can only control the systems of a building, there is a lack of insight into how these operations run and where electric, water, and gas resources are consumed.

A building energy management system can maximize the effectiveness of a BAS. Energy management systems provide detailed transparency into utility resource consumption, as well as provide tools to run a building more efficiently. There is some confusion in the market around this tool, however. According to a recent study, 70% of building managers reported they already had an energy management system, when in reality they had a building automation system. These two systems serve very different purposes, but can work together to achieve a highly efficient building.

Here are 10 ways an energy management system can fill in the gaps left by BAS.

1.Energy Consumption Analysis ­ Although building automation systems are great at controlling energy use, they do not provide visibility into consumption and building operations. With an energy management system (EMS), property managers can see what they’re consuming and use this information to inform the way they program their BAS.

2.  Detailed Energy Use Data With an energy management system, a property manager can see a building’s electric, water, and gas consumption at the whole building, submetered space, and equipment level. A building automation system focuses on the processes, not consumption, so it does not provide any utility use insights.

3. Data-Driven Smart Decisions Use an energy management system’s detailed information to make actionable decisions backed by real-time data. This system provides granular data to identify areas of inefficiency and high consumption, allowing users to target operational improvement efforts. An energy management system can also provide tools and reports to make data actionable.

4. All Portfolio Data Centralized On The Cloud Energy management systems can centralize all water, electric, and gas data in the cloud. Property managers can access this data from anywhere to gain insights into their entire portfolio’s energy consumption. However, BAS systems are specialized for one particular building, and do not afford portfolio-level transparency or benchmarking.

5. Quick Deployment And Payback ­ An energy management system can be deployed quickly to begin gathering actionable data, providing users a quick return on investment (ROI). Building automation systems often need customized design and set up to run properly in a building, which can take months and requires specialized training. Energy management systems are a scalable technology that can be applied across a portfolio without adjusting the settings or customization.

6. No Annual Trainings Required Building automation systems can be particularly complex, requiring time to train and retrain staff every year. An EMS is a user-friendly system that does not require frequent training sessions that eat up valuable time. Energy management software provides actionable data in a simple, easy-to-use platform.

7. Team Collaboration On The Platform Teams can collaborate on an energy management system’s platform via chat or work order integrations. Daily or weekly reports help team members work better together to manage energy consumption. Trending data can also be used to predict costs and budgets, as well as allow engineering teams to more accurately predict the proper settings of a BAS.

8. Real-Time Alerts, Historical Data, and Weather Normalization Real-time alerts can help an operations team to prepare for weather events. With collected historical data on the platform, a team can use past data stored on the cloud to best prepare for weather events. Additionally, texts and email alerts can be set up to warn leaders of high consumption so team members can check the systems for any faults. With more historical data, the alerts will be more accurate in identifying unusual usage.

9. Validate Measurement and Verification Use energy management software data to make sure operational efficiency efforts are effective. An EMS can serve as an auditing system for a BAS.

10. Integrate With Other Building Management Tools Energy management systems can integrate with other tools, such as payment tools, tenant billing, and benchmarking or reporting systems like Energy Star and LEED Dynamic Plaque. Unfortunately, BAS integrations are costly and have limited capabilities.

Building automation systems and energy management systems do work well together to run an efficient building with great transparency into consumption and controls. Let’s clear the air on the capabilities of these two systems and start using them more effectively.

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About The Author

As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Aquicore, Kelia Cowan manages the company’s content and events, including the company blog, social media channels, resources, email marketing campaigns, webinars, and conferences. Simultaneously, she fields questions on how to “properly” pronounce her name.

Previously, Kelia was the Marketing and Communications Fellow at Cleantech Open Northeast, where she focused on digital content and event coordination. As an undergraduate student, she worked in various communication roles at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, and Energy Excelerator. Kelia left the paradise of Honolulu, Hawai’i, to attain a B.S. in Journalism and a B.A. in Environmental Analysis & Policy from Boston University.