When you first hear about energy management software, your initial thought may be, “I already have that.” Most likely, what you have is a Building Automation System (BAS) that helps you control your building’s lighting, ventilation, and heating. However, you probably don’t have energy management software that will display the building’s real-time energy data so you can take action on it immediately.
In many ways, building automation systems and energy management software can complement one another. Energy management software can be used to help you make educated decisions about how to operate the building’s BAS and maximize energy efficiency without sacrificing tenant comfort.
A BAS can control anything from air-handling units to fan coils to heat pumps to lighting systems to VAV boxes. A newer BAS can maximize all of these things for energy efficiency. Additionally, a BAS can monitor fire and flood safety, and alert property managers when there is a problem.
Building Automation Systems are generally found in newer “smart buildings.” If the building was built before the 1990s, the BAS data cannot be accessed remotely. Additionally, a BAS does not generally offer advanced analytics, which are key to efficient building optimization. The primary function of a BAS is to control the building, not to analyze its performance. That’s where Energy Management Software comes in.
Energy management software let’s you look at the data for your electric, water, and gas consumption on the cloud, so you can monitor the building anytime and from anywhere. Energy management software also streamlines operations and repairs. With its cloud-based access, you can collaborate with your team to fix problems that come up in real time. You can easily compare buildings across your portfolio.
While energy management software provides you with the clearest analytics for your data, it does not allow you to actually make changes to your building directly from the platform. Instead, the changes can be made using the BAS, and measurement and verification can be tracked through the software.
At the end of the day, the best way to use each of these tools is to utilize their strengths. Use your state of the art building automation system to operate the building and maximize energy efficiency. Then, use energy management software to make sure the building is staying on track and to verify that operating changes are effective.
As of now, there is no easy or inexpensive way to integrate the two systems together. Frankly, the two do not actually need to be connected as one system. They can easily complement each other without speaking to each other directly.
At the end of the day, the two systems are equally important, but they serve completely different functions. Whenever possible, utilize both.