5 Things You Didn’t Know Your BAS Could Do September 14, 2017 | Alex Richardson

A building automation system can go a long way toward improving your building’s operational efficiency. For ambitious building teams working to trim operating costs, though, there are few toolset combinations more effective than a building automation system and an energy management system. The two work together to help produce results that neither could on its own.

As we’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot of confusion in the industry about the difference between Building Automation Systems and Energy Management Systems. My colleague Anna wrote a great blog post about this problem a few years ago. The upshot is that a BAS is like the steering wheel in your car and an EMS is like the dashboard – the former controls the building and the latter gives you the information to make the right decisions.

Most people would never drive a car without a steering wheel or a dashboard. (If self-driving car proponents have their way, we may all start riding in cars neither, but let’s not stretch the metaphor.) For much the same reason, the top performing commercial buildings use both a BAS and an EMS in concert to fine tune their utility consumption.

Here are 5 things that your BAS can only do with an energy management system.


1. Optimize Startup and Shutdown Times

Virtually any building could shave money off of their utility bills by shortening their startup and shutdown times. The reason they don’t is simple: They don’t have the data to show them how close they can cut things without angering tenants. No one wants to deal with more tenant complaints than they have to. The result is that engineers pick times in the morning and evening, set their BAS, and forget about it. Without an EMS, this is about the best you can do, but you’re leaving money on the table. With a well-configured, modern EMS, engineers can see the optimal time for starting up and shutting down the building given the day’s weather conditions and operate their BAS accordingly.


2. Respond to Problems in Real-Time

Without an EMS, it’s easy for problems to slip past you until they become big enough to be obvious. At that point, it is often too late to stop major damage – especially if the problem involves water damage. An EMS measures utility consumption throughout your building and alerts you if data strays outside of the norm. Submetering allows your EMS to show you the precise area – or piece of equipment – where the problem is occurring. From there, it’s simple to take action directly or using your BAS.


3. Predict Energy Curves

A modern EMS interprets historical data over regular intervals and uses it to form the basis of predictions. It builds a forecast for what your energy curve should look like on any given day. Aquicore takes that one step further by merging historical and weather data to predict how a building will behave on any given day. These predictions help engineers to understand variations in consumption and gives them insights they can act on to cut operating costs.


4. In-Depth Measurement and Verification

A building automation system is an essential tool for implementing many types of energy efficiency project. Without an energy management system, though, the measurement and verification process takes longer and may be less detailed. An EMS collects data from multiple points throughout the building and centralizes it in a digital platform. With a real-time EMS, you can see the difference in consumption as it’s happening, compare it to previous values for a similar day, and even run A/B tests between floors.


5. Simplify Other Energy-Related Tasks

With your utility data in the cloud, simplifying operational tasks is easy. Tenant billing goes from a multi-day process to a 20 minute one, because the data for each tenant’s energy consumption is already gathered in a central location. All that’s left is to enter a few details from the building-level bill and the invoices are ready to send. Energy Star and LEED reporting become significantly easier as well. Energy and water data – separated into any level of detail – can be sent at the click of a button.

Building automation systems have become a standard in most commercial buildings. They’re useful tools, but with a modern energy management system, they can do far more than ever before.

About The Author

Alex Richardson is a staff writer at Aquicore. He writes about green policy, energy efficiency, and innovation that affects commercial real estate. Alex.Richardson@aquicore.com.