Energy Management Systems vs. Building Automation: Where Do I Start?

Figuring out the most efficient way to run a building portfolio can be a challenge. Particularly with the rise in real estate technologies, choosing the right energy management software is overwhelming. Don’t know where to start? Look at these factors when selecting your smart energy management solution.

Energy Management Systems vs. Building Automation System

Energy management systems and building automation systems serve two very different functions. Perhaps the easiest way to understand the difference is to think of your building as a car. An energy management system is the dashboard of your car: it allows you to see all the controls and understand how all components are operating. With this high-level view, you accurately direct your car.

That’s when the building automation system comes in. BAS acts as the steering wheel: you can direct the car by telling it what to do. You can set it on “cruise” mode to drive on autopilot, but you’ll still need to run frequent, necessary checks to make sure everything is working properly.

Your building operates the same way. A good energy management software provides an overview of your portfolio operations, with the option to explore a potential problem before it happens. You then use this information to set your building automation system to run most efficiently.


Where Do I Start?

If you don’t have either a BMS or an EMS in your building, you should start by installing web-enabled meters and monitoring meter data with an energy management system. Here’s why:

  • First, meters can be installed in any building and will get you started for a fraction of the cost of a building management system. Maybe you even already have meters that integrate with your EMS.
  • Second, you can get actionable data in under 30 days and get a return on your investment right away. After setting up meters and real-time energy management software, Cassidy Turley (now DTZ) identified $91,000 in annual energy cost savings in one of their buildings, thus justifying future investments in energy efficiency efforts.
  • Third, you can identify opportunities and justify capital investments (such as investing in a BMS).



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Choose the Best Energy Management Systems

Each building in a portfolio has its own needs. A good energy management solution should be flexible and scale with your needs. It should work in any building–regardless of size or age–across the entire portfolio, allowing decision makers to see the big picture on one platform. It should include all utilities and allow submetering of equipment and space.

A good EMS is more than a dashboard. It provides you with in depth analytics, real-time alerts and reports, in-software collaboration tools, and advanced customization options.

With your smart energy management solution up and running, analytics become the most important aspect of your operations; data is worthless without analysis. A good EMS will let you select different metrics, see all of your buildings on one screen, drill down to the equipment level, and quantify impact of change right in the software. Since you don’t run the building alone, why use the software alone? A good tool will offer internal messaging and reporting systems, as well as dynamic alerts. Be sure to get your teammates on board with the new solution to use it most effectively.



Use Your New Real Estate Technology

When used effectively, integrated energy management software and building automation systems can rapidly increase energy efficiency, thereby saving money on your energy bills. With real-time energy management software, you can identify areas to cut back. Since these are quick fixes, your return on investment will be fast as well.

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