Building automation systems make HVAC in commercial buildings more efficient, improving comfort levels and increasing cost savings. There are nearly six million commercial buildings in the United States, and their highest energy use is for space heating, ventilation, and lighting. On average, 30% of the energy utilized in these buildings is wasted due to system inefficiencies. 

Tri-Tech Energy has more than thirty years of experience with commercial heating, cooling, and mechanical systems in New Jersey. We design, select, and install modern high-efficiency heating and cooling systems with advanced energy control systems, but we also can maintain 50-year-old boiler systems. In this article, we’ll explore building automation systems and how they impact HVAC.

What is a Building Automation System?  

It’s a central system that uses automation to monitor and control external systems used throughout a commercial building, including HVAC, lighting, security access, alarms, and cameras. A building automation system (BAS) is accessed and controlled remotely via a single control panel, which can also be on a computer, tablet or smartphone. 

There are several benefits and risks to using these systems. Some of the main advantages include improved efficiency with lower operational and energy costs, while the comfort and safety of building occupants improve. The BAS system converges into IT-managed infrastructure, which is also at the core of its disadvantage. The complex system must be continuously maintained, as a single point of failure can disrupt the whole system. It is also more susceptible to malicious cyber-attacks, placing a building’s security at risk.  

How a Building Automation System Works  

A series of controls and sensors monitor and adjust a building’s electricity, water, sewer, and HVAC. These systems were normally controlled separately, but BAS incorporates the various building functions into a central control interface. Building automation systems evolved to become smart. They use the building’s data network to connect and interconnect devices and sensors that share data to manage the building’s ecosystem in real-time. 

Examples of building automation include adjusting thermostats to control room temperature and occupancy sensors to control lighting. When a large group of people occupy a room, its temperature naturally increases. Sensors automatically adjust the HVAC system, cooling the room until it reaches a preset comfort level. Occupancy sensors switch the lighting in office buildings on when employees are working. When they don’t detect movement after a set period, the lighting switches itself off.    

History of Building Automation Systems  

Believe it or not, the history of BAS started more than hundred and forty years ago with the need to control a rudimentary HVAC system. In the late 1880s, the bi-metallic switch thermostat and electric thermostat were invented to control heating and cooling systems.  Changes were made to various levels of building automation throughout the years, but the concept accelerated in 1999 with the invention of Wi-Fi and the creation of the Internet of Things (IoT). Today, smartphones or cloud-based, centralized management systems control most BAS systems. 

Types of Building Automation Systems  

Smart building automation offers exceptional control over systems providing various services to a building. Today, even the ductwork of an HVAC system has a smart controller. There are as many types of building automation systems as there are services. Less than 20% of commercial buildings use all the abilities of a BAS system, but every building has a system to control the HVAC. The following functions can be controlled by a building automation system: lighting, HVAC, chillers and cold storage, electrical, occupancy sensors, plumbing and water, fire alarms and suppression, security systems and alarms, lifts and access control systems.

Tri-Tech understands the unique operational configurations of older HVAC systems and is equally knowledgeable about the newest high-efficiency systems installed in modern commercial buildings. Our goal is to help clients run their systems in the most cost-effective way possible. Contact Tri-Tech Energy today to discuss building automation systems and HVAC or visit us at: