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The Future of Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS)

Ivan Muts
July 3, 2023
10 mins to read

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    Real estate businesses are looking for cost and energy-effective ways to run their commercial buildings or facilities. Due to inefficiency, on average, a commercial building wastes nearly 30 percent of the energy it consumes. Better control over energy use is defined by applying energy management systems aka EMS. However, being a traditional option, building management systems (BMS) or building automation systems (BAS) are also related solutions toward energy control and management. Although these terms are often used interchangeably and are overlapped, they have a difference.

    So if you are looking for the best solution to optimize the energy, air, and water facets of your building operations, in this article we outline the main differences between BMS and EMS, and also how IoT technologies can facilitate commercial building systems. Read on to discover more advanced and smart solutions for your building management.

    Explore the future of building energy management systems with this short video summary.

    BEMS (BAS) vs. EMS

    In order to understand the difference between systems, it is necessary to understand what type of information each of the systems tracks.

    Building energy management systems (BEMS) or building automation systems (BAS) are aimed at facility management through computer-based automation, control, and monitoring of various mechanical building systems (HVAC, smart lighting, air conditioning, ventilation, security, and alert systems.) BMSs are not energy-related. BMS allows the facilitation of the building by automating the control of certain resources via a centralized location. This gives facility managers easy access and control over building operations.

    traditional building management systems

    As for energy management systems (EMS), their aim is to measure energy consumption and identify sectors that need to be improved for energy efficiency. Therefore, the main difference lies in that EMSs are focused on systems involving energy consumption that allows facility managers to get a more accurate view of the building’s energy use. They can make more insightful decisions based on the gathered data across multiple locations and, consequently, reduce costs.

    EMS provides data that can be useful for the efficient running of BEMS. Compared to building management systems that are traditionally expensive and complex, requiring specialized installation and maintenance, energy management systems do not need hardware and are very cost-effective. Moreover, with its sophisticated analytical platform, EMS can extremely optimize energy systems while BMS is limited in providing detailed reports and recommendations toward optimization of building systems.

    Which system will be best for your facility?

    If your goal is to gain complete control over your building management and energy consumption as well as reduce costs, then implementation of both solutions will be the best option. However, let’s not hurry since sustainable technologies allow more advanced decisions you might be willing to leverage for your business performance. Nowadays, these two traditional systems are not the only solutions you can focus on: with IoT-powered software solutions with analytical energy management platforms, the future of energy management offers a leap forward.

    Talking about building automation, there is an assumption that it is the backbone of smart buildings. However, it is not totally true. Let us explain a bit. Yes, BMS helps achieve efficient building performance and ensure a healthier indoor environment, but there are severe limitations with data that can be gathered by BMS. Programming and adjustment of building management systems require humans’ diligence with the ability to respond to certain conditions and operate processes manually on a scale. Smart buildings, on the contrary, do not require constant human monitoring of their systems and collect unlimited amounts of data.

    Challenges in traditional building management systems

    As we mentioned before, building management systems and energy management systems are expensive and complex. The deployment of the basic BMS costs on average $2,5 to $7 per square meter which is equal to at least $250.000 per 100.00 square foot building.

    There are also costs associated with data acquiring and utilization. In order to analyze data and derive value from it, facility managers need to hire dedicated building engineers or vendors which in any case will be costly and time-consuming. Data brings value if it can provide meaningful insights. For instance, if the HVAC system will be identified to be in operation when the building is unoccupied, it can be adjusted so that a building can significantly optimize utility consumption expenses.

    Therefore, the demand for cost-effective solutions exponentially rises.

    Subsequently, one more challenge occurs – low ROI. Recovering the cost of the building management system can take at least four years which is a determinant factor before investing in building management systems.

    Furthermore, since BMSs are primarily focused on heavy equipment such as HVAC and lighting, they are not aimed at controlling smaller equipment such as generators, pumping systems, etc. Again, this issue is associated with the high costs of system implementation. Therefore, building operators are likely to be notified of the equipment malfunction not immediately which can result in occupant’s health risk and an increase in operating costs. Smart building technologies can prevent equipment failures ensuring that facility managers and operators are notified of failures straight away.

    Scalability issues are one more limitation of traditional building management systems; with the increase of the building size, the costs of installation and maintenance increase consequently.

    Thus, an efficient management system requires the incorporation of smart technologies that allow to reduce costs and gain more valuable data for better building performance. In contrast to traditional approaches of using general practices and predefined rules, IoT solutions offer real-time analytics gained from smart sensors across multiple data sources. Read on to figure out how BMS and EMS systems can leverage the IoT approach toward efficient building management and how facility managers can overcome capital barriers.

    IoT-based approach to building management: move forward

    With the availability of low-cost sensors, longer ranges, and improved energy management solutions through predictive analytics, remote monitoring, and real-time data access, IoT-based building management has become more intelligent leading to cost-efficiency and improved business decisions. According to McKinsey forecasts, by 2025, the global IoT market will reach $6.3 trillion.

    IoT incorporation complements traditional building management systems, empowering facility managers to use unprecedented levels of insights to proactively control various building operations for analytics and automation, besides HVAC and lighting (ventilation systems, refrigeration units, water, and pumping systems, individual machinery, and other smaller equipment). The shrinking cost of sensors is driving the proliferation of IoT technology.

    iot powered building management

    Let’s take a look at how valuable IoT technologies are for building management.

    1.Remote monitoring yields actionable building data. The underlying principle of the IoT system lies in monitoring and collecting data from wireless connected devices and sensors and unifying it in the cloud. The IoT cloud-based architecture allows facility managers to gain a complete view of building operations across multiple locations in real-time and high-resolution information for building strategic decisions.

    For example, Euristiq has developed a low-cost in-store customer tracking system across 15,000 stores to provide more meaningful data on customer shopping behavior and efficiently allocate resources. With the intelligent connected system, building managers are able to:

    As a result, the solution was aimed at enhancing customer experience and optimizing employees’ routines.

    2. Connected devices reduce energy consumption. IoT-based platforms allow monitoring and managing dedicated energy storage systems and adjust them accordingly. Thus, when there is a demand for reduction of the load on the supplying energy utilities, building managers can disconnect power-consuming systems at a granular level. Since there are some pieces of equipment that do not need to be performing at a certain time (for instance, if the room is not occupied, HVAC systems can be disconnected), an IoT-connected network can help detect occupancy and adjust energy consumption accordingly.

    There are retail businesses addressing us to implement intelligent retail traffic analytics that can help track customers’ journeys and consequently increase revenue. At the same time, remote energy consumption control is one of the main requirements. Our team has developed a solution for the Danish smart retail business allowing to adjust lighting via iPad or iPhone.

    3. Predictive maintenance improves building performance. IoT integrated with building management systems provides applications that help streamline and optimize processes through preventative maintenance. Once the system is observed to not be performing properly, connected assets will contribute to the prediction of possible failures and notifying of the need for equipment replacements. This, in turn, can facilitate the reduction of enormous expenses.

    4. IoT enables efficient space utilization and improves occupants’ satisfaction. Effective space utilization can significantly reduce the costs of premises and also enhance occupants’ experiences. The IoT system is able to detect which areas in the building are occupied and for how long by real-time monitoring and creating appropriate heatmaps. Based upon the captured data, building managers are able to plan space utilization and maintenance. Moreover, HVAC and lighting can be adjusted according to users’ preferences.

    Tektelic, a Canadian provider of IoT getaway sensors and applications hired Euristiq to develop room occupancy management systems that solve problems with meeting room underutilization. With this solution, building managers can view collected data, record the performance and meeting room efficiency statistics, and get visualized data on the dashboards.

    Smart building automation systems can maximize the ROI

    With an average price of $0,75 per square foot, IoT-based energy management systems can be at least 5 times cheaper than traditional ones. Retail businesses can get ROI in six months to two years, which is only a fraction of traditional BMS systems.

    In order to change the way buildings are managed, it is possible to start small: expand the connectivity between existing systems and apply smart devices across locations to benefit from data generated from equipment.

    Traditional building management systems, such as lighting or HVAC, were typically designed as standalone solutions as compared to connected technologies that can integrate with legacy systems and gain actionable intelligence.

    Looking for a smart building management system?

    Like every business owner, you are looking for a solution to enhance productivity, optimize energy use, and increase revenue. In our article, we covered topics about traditional building systems and their limitations compared to IoT technology-based approaches. To recap the above-mentioned benefits of IoT applications, it is worth mentioning actionable intelligence gained from real-time data, optimization of space and energy consumption, predictive maintenance, and much more. Let us help your business unlock higher operational efficiency by adopting a modernization approach to your legacy systems.

    If you already have a traditional building management system and want to optimize the performance and maximize your ROI, share your goals with us, and our team will provide you with a dedicated partner to ensure smooth integration.

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