A building management system can be a key tool for any business. It can provide a comfortable working environment for building occupants enhancing productivity and contribute significantly to saving energy costs and a reduced carbon footprint if used correctly, but despite this, all too often the capabilities of the BMS itself are not fully utilised and the potential benefits are lost.
An optimum way of ensuring good control is to involve the BMS specialists early in the building design, whether this is a controls manufacturer or a specialist systems house. This early involvement ensures the BMS specialist has a clear understanding of the project and is able to create a solution that fits the needs of the client, rather than the all too familiar scenario where the building design is finished before the control system is even considered.
Accurate, reliable measurement of the conditions plays a crucial role. If the values being read by the BMS are inaccurate then it will not be able to control correctly. Meters can be used to measure consumption of individual zones allowing fairer cost allocation. Another advantage of sub-metering is it allows problem areas to be identified where energy usage is high, and to then put corrective actions in place.
The second element is control. The BMS of today controls many elements of a building intelligently including lighting, security, access, fire, ventilation and heating/cooling. These systems can then all interact and the BMS can be used as the device to enable this which ultimately leads to cost efficiencies and energy savings.
A typical example of this type of control is when the last employee of a department swipes out using the access control system which in turn triggers the BMS to switch off the appropriate departmental zone lighting and reduce the heating/ cooling and ventilation to a preset night time rate.
Making it work for you
In order to get the best out of your system it is important that it is commissioned correctly and the performance monitored thereafter to ensure correct control. This can either be carried out direct on site or via remote monitoring. A remote centre can be used to interrogate different sites around the country, or even world wide and web enabled controls can be used to provide a connection with the sites on a 24/7 basis, allowing an expert team to remotely see how each building management system is working, in real time. Data is extracted and the resulting information is analysed to improve energy efficiency. The same access also allows for rapid diagnosis of problems.
The final stage is to implement a regular maintenance program for the BMS. A regularly maintained system will work far more efficiently than one that is not maintained. The systems are installed with the best of intentions but can often be neglected after installation. Any number of things can change. Perhaps the most common is that settings are altered to deal with a particular set of conditions and are never restored to their original values. A systematic, regular, well planned maintenance program can ensure these areas are checked and that the system is run at its most efficient level.
The right solution
The move in technology means that a BMS system installed today has numerous capabilities which will help you to run your building both effectively and efficiently, providing savings to your bottom line where it is needed most. The key is of course to ensure that it is set-up correctly in the first place because time taken to sort out the design at the beginning will mean the difference between a solution that fits the exact needs of your building and a control system which doesn’t.