Building Automation & Sustainability
Published on : Thursday 05-10-2023
Building Automation & Sustainability - The Future of Green Buildings - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y9ysNoOPQ0
Building Automation System (BAS) or Building Management System (BMS) facilitates monitoring of all the mechanical, electrical and electromechanical services. These include power, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, physical access control, elevators and lighting systems, etc. Any curbing of wasteful use of energy helps the cause of sustainability. Today, all modern buildings rely on automation to ensure the safety, health and comfort of the people living/working inside its premises, for effective maintenance and optimisation of resources. What BAS/BMS does is facilitate collection and analysis of data from a wide range of building systems and devices on an IoT-enabled platform, which allows more efficient and effective building management.
Aveva - https://www.industrialautomationindia.in/interviewsitm/16642/Our-software-creates-opportunities-in-the-net-zero-economy-across-various-industries/interviews
Estimates vary, but buildings account for 30-40% of energy consumption, which is quite substantial. So how does building automation contribute to energy efficiency?
“Building Automation Systems monitor and improve HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, lighting, and entry/exit systems. By adjusting operating parameters in real time based on occupancy, weather, and demand prediction, BAS effectively reduces HVAC energy consumption. It also monitors and adjusts lighting based on occupancy and natural light, while also offering remote monitoring and control for building managers to promptly address issues,” says Gangadhar Krishnamoorthy, Associate Partner, KPMG in India. “BAS monitors energy usage in buildings to identify areas of excessive consumption and potential improvements based on past consumption patterns. This effectively improves energy efficiency,” he adds.
Larry O’Brien, Vice President, Research, ARC Advisory Group, cites the environmental impact assessment (EIA) undertaken by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which states that buildings are the largest consumers of energy and one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the US, buildings account for approximately 70 percent of electricity consumption, approximately 40 percent of total US primary energy consumption, and about 30 percent of operational GHG emissions. More worrying, about 30 percent of the energy put into these buildings is wasted. “Modernising an out-of-date building automation system is the single biggest thing owner operators can do to improve energy efficiency, reduce overall energy consumption, and provide a healthier and more sustainable space. The installed base of older BASs that need modernisation is considerable. Like many industrial and critical infrastructure systems, BASs have a long lifecycle of 10-15 years or more,” says Larry.
According to Mrs Sakhee Chandrayan, Social Entrepreneur and President INBAC Association, there are a few ways to achieve energy efficiency by optimising various building systems and operations through measurement, monitoring and control:
• Real time tracking of all sub-systems (especially measure energy consuming functions like HVACR, lighting, etc.), onsite and remotely
• Distributing load-based on occupancy
• Scheduling based on calendar and utilisation trends in the building
• Predicting maintenance based on past data and maintenance timelines, and
• Continuous optimisation using benchmarking.
INBAC Association is a non-profit organisation driving a community of various stakeholders involved in building automation domains in India. “As our nation marches towards our G20 Sustainability goals, we equally go from becoming a developing country to a developed country! It is non-negotiable to ensure not only energy efficiency, but also sustainability of the built environment,” says Sakhee.
“Heating, cooling and lighting in residential and office buildings make up approximately 40% of the energy consumed in the industrial nations, a share that leaves a lot of scope for energy optimisation. With the help of building automation systems, organisations can actively monitor and control their energy use, encourage responsible use, and so lessen their carbon footprint,” says Sunil Jayaram, Head Building Solutions, Electrification Business, ABB India. “The smart building constructions are designed in such a way that they can adjust building activities such as ventilation, heating air conditioning and others automatically. The numerous benefits of building automation systems have led to increasing consumers’ interest and demand for smart buildings,” asserts Sunil.
Speaking of BAS, what are the specific building automation technologies that help optimise heating, cooling, and lighting systems for energy savings?
There are several building automation technologies that help optimise heating, cooling, and lighting systems for energy savings,” says Ms Titli Chatterjee, Senior Lead, SME – Smart Manufacturing Practice at ISG Research, and lists them as:
1. Lighting control technologies such as use of occupancy sensors; daylight sensors to adjust artificial lighting levels based on natural light availability; and time-based scheduling to turn lights On and Off at specific times.
2. Programmable thermostats that allow users to set temperature schedules based on occupancy patterns.
3. Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), which are comprehensive automation platforms that integrate and control various building systems.
4. Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning that provide insights to optimise the operation of heating, cooling, and lighting systems for energy savings.
“Implementing these building automation technologies can significantly enhance energy efficiency in buildings by optimising the operation of heating, cooling, and lighting systems, reducing energy waste, and improving overall sustainability,” says Titli.
Anurag Anand, Regional General Manager, Sustainable Buildings at Honeywell Building Technologies explains how building management solutions put automation, efficiency, and control in the fingertips of building operators and facility service providers. “BMS is secure and highly scalable, and works for buildings of all sizes, helping to meet energy efficiency goals,” he says. Honeywell has multiple unique building automation solutions, which integrate hardware to digitalise the buildings and software solutions to control and optimise the building operations. “We are empowering highly evolving, extremely complex and demanding physical systems to be self-learning, autonomous and intelligently operated, bringing transparency into operations and giving valuable actionable insights. We are trying to help not only improve a building's sustainability efforts but also help mitigate the gap and shortage of highly skilled talents,” he explains.
“At present there are multiple softwares and technologies available to reduce the energy consumption of the buildings at the design and construction stage itself by focusing on Passive & Active Strategies. By using these strategies at the right time we may create high performance energy efficient buildings in true sense. The aim is to focus on the Life Cycle Analysis of the buildings and aim towards Zero Emissions,” says Ms Mamta Rawat, Sustainability Consultant; IGBC Fellow, IGBC AP, LEED AP, BEE Certified Energy Manager. Some of the specific building automation technologies commonly found in today's energy efficient buildings, according to Mamta, are: Occupancy Sensors; Temperature and Humidity Sensors; Smart HVAC Controls; HVAC Zoning; Blinds and Shading Systems; Smart Ventilation; Lighting Control Systems; Integrated Building Management Systems (BMS), and Machine Learning and AI.
One doubt that often makes potential occupants wary about BAS and other technologies talking of energy conservation in buildings is the comfort level and whether this is compromised in implementation. So how does the integration of sensors and smart controls in building automation enhance indoor air quality and occupant comfort while still maintaining energy efficiency?
“Sensors can continuously monitor various factors such as temperature, humidity, and air quality in real-time. This data is then used by smart controls to adjust heating, cooling, and other systems to maintain an optimal indoor environment for comfort and well-being,” says Gangadhar Krishnamoorthy, allaying such doubts. “Advanced analytics algorithms can analyse historic sensor data to identify patterns and trends and optimise building operations in advance to improve energy efficiency and enhance occupant comfort,” he elaborates.
Larry O’Brien, concurs, and adds: “You cannot control what you cannot measure, and more sensors means better control of heating, cooling, air quality, and lighting both to create a better environment for people and to provide enhanced energy efficiency. By directing energy only where it is needed for the time period it is needed, end users can achieve considerable energy savings and see great energy efficiency improvements,” he emphasises.
Adding a different perspective, Mrs Sakhee Chandrayan, states it is important to understand that building automation is far more than energy saving and it must help users to look at the buildings comprehensively. It should not only show the sub-system level trends but also effects of sub-system interplay; in other words, malfunctioning of any sub-system causing fire or highly luminous lighting system lowering the efficiency of HVAC. The only way to know it is by studying the trends coming from building data. “Now, the building level comprehension is only possible if all the sub-systems are integrated together and configured to work in collaboration. It is not only about indoor air quality, indoor air quality is only one parameter in the larger scheme of things,” she adds.
“The comfort of a building's occupants and energy efficiency can be maximised with the aid of facility automation and control technologies. To monitor and control several aspects of the indoor environment, including temperature, humidity, lighting, ventilation, and security, these systems use sensors, controls, actuators, and software. Users can obtain considerable benefits for their facility's operations and maintenance, as well as for the health and productivity of the building’s occupants, by integrating and automating these systems,” says Sunil Jayaram. He cites the example of ABB’s FusionAir Smart Sensor series where intelligent temperature and humidity sensors allow users to view and adjust selected parameters within the field controller to which it is connected.
Solutions are available thanks to the evolution of technology and wonders of smart sensors in tandem with IoT. But even with all this, there are bound to be challenges that organisations face in implementing building automation for sustainability. So how to address these issues?
Titli Chatterjee offers a few tips to overcome some of the common challenges faced while building automation for sustainability:
1. Legacy Infrastructure and Retrofitting: Many existing buildings have older infrastructure that may not be compatible with modern automation technologies. Conducting a detailed assessment of the existing infrastructure, prioritising key areas for retrofitting, and planning phased implementations can help overcome these challenges.
2. Integration Complexity: Integrating various building systems, such as HVAC, lighting, and security, into a centralised automation platform can be complex. Engaging experienced system integrators or consultants with expertise in building automation can help simplify the integration process and ensure seamless communication between systems.
3. Initial Cost: The upfront cost of installing building automation systems can be a significant barrier for some organisations. However, it's important to consider the long-term benefits and potential energy savings that can outweigh the initial investment.
4. Cybersecurity Risks: Building automation systems, being connected to networks and the internet, can be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Engaging cybersecurity experts and following industry best practices can help mitigate risks and ensure the security of building automation systems.
5. Scalability and Futureproofing: Organisations need to consider scalability and future-proofing when implementing building automation. Choosing open protocols and standards, working with vendors that offer scalable solutions, and considering the potential for integrating emerging technologies can help address scalability concerns.
6. Data Management and Privacy: Building automation systems generate vast amounts of data, including occupancy patterns, energy consumption, and user behavior. Organisations must establish data management practices that ensure data privacy and compliance with relevant regulations.
“One challenge that may confront building proprietors or operators involves discerning the optimal design capable of accommodating future shifts in operational circumstances and technological advancements. Another challenge which they may confront is how to handle existing infrastructure and modernisation to meet the requirements for embarking on a sustainability journey which includes technology investments, finding the right talent to execute the plan and determining the priorities between repair and replacement,” says Anurag Anand. According to him, challenges will continue to evolve and get more complex. To overcome these challenges, building owners should first establish a clear vision, set realistic goals, and embark on the journey with the right technology and implementation partner.
To Mamta Rawat, sustainability makes business sense. Implementing building automation for sustainability presents several challenges, but with right planning and strategies, organisations can overcome these obstacles. Here are some common challenges and ways to address them:
1. Sustainability Goals Alignment: Organisations should have a clear sustainability strategy and regularly assess how automation contributes to these goals.
2. Lack of Expertise: This can hamper harnessing the full potential of the system deployed. Building management should invest in training for their staff or consider partnering with experienced contractors and integrators.
3. Initial Cost: To overcome this challenge, organisations should consider the long-term return on investment (RoI) by factoring in energy savings, reduced maintenance costs.
4. Integration Complexity & Retrofits: Legacy systems may not easily integrate with new automation technologies. To address this, organisations can invest in gateways or middleware that enable communication between older and newer systems.
5. Scalability: Implementing a scalable architecture from the outset can help seamlessly integrate future changes without significant disruption.
6. Interoperability: Organisations should specify open standards and protocols to ensure interoperability between components from various vendors.
Summing up, in the words of Mrs Sakhee Chandrayan, it is important to understand that the technology has covered the entire world and its pace is haunting! Anyone not using technology and data driven decisions shall be at a high business risk. Remember, Smart Buildings, Sustainable Future!
Note: The responses of various experts featured in this story are their personal views and not necessarily of the companies or organisations they represent. The full interviews are hosted online at https://www.iedcommunications.com/interviews)