CCI Blog

What is an "open" building automation system?

Posted by RibRelays on September 2013

Many facility managers are making the move toward more intelligent energy-consuming practices within their commercial buildings. Many building owners and property managers are curious about the specifics surrounding open building automation systems (BASs).

A wealth of technology enables facilities managers to make drastic savings on their buildings' operations. From smarter HVAC and lighting systems, to more energy efficient boilers and thermostats, the opportunities to cut energy consumption are certainly there. But not all workplaces operate at their highest level of efficiency, despite having the proper technology installed. One possibility for this is that their BASs are not be truly "open," prohibiting proper integration of the new intelligent systems.

Understanding an open BAS
A recent story on Automated Buildings explains how certain communication protocols can have similar effects as open BAS protocols, but ultimately create problems as a building manager attempts to automate more (and possibly third party) technology into the system. This difficulty led to the rise of many open network protocols to prevent these difficulties, however, problems with these protocols still arise. To curb this problem, Automated Buildings introduced its own protocol to measure how truly open a system is. While their system is by no means the definitive authority on open protocols for BAS, it does provide valuable insight into making a truly open system.

The first element of the test is to make sure that all devices comply to the same open protocols so that the system in which they communicate is consistent. The next step is to make sure that the technology is programmed properly, so that it can integrate with the rest of the BAS. It is also important for the user interface controlling all the systems to be understandable and consistent across systems, rather than requiring extensive programming to increase functionality.

The success of an open BAS comes in the technology all being able to successfully communicate. Having a more efficient lighting or HVAC system can only work so well, unless it is able to work in conjunction with the rest of the building.

Technologies making for easier integration
Machine to machine (M2M) technologies are making this easier by increasing communication between systems through better controls and the internet. A story on highlights six new developments making smart buildings more intelligent. When these technologies all work cohesively, as they would in an open system, they enact a process within the building known as "continual commissioning," that allows the system to measure, analyze, and adjust the systems operating in the building to optimize performance.

These technologies are becoming so essential for intelligent buildings that $5.5 billion were invested worldwide in 2012, a figure expected to jump to $18.1 billion by 2017, according to IDC Energy Insights.

An open BAS is not only important for the optimization of current building systems, but for the possibility of future savings as well. A story in Today's Facility Manager explains that the ways in which new and current technologies can work together are growing, leading more opportunities for savings, but to support these solutions, a BAS will need to be open to adapt to the new ways of operation.

Topics: Building Automation, Energy Savings

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