Timberline Blog

What Is a Building Automation System?

April 27, 2023 by Timberline

The processes and technology for managing how a commercial building is heated and cooled have come a long way. Going way back, it was about walking around, opening windows and turning on fans or heading down to the boiler room and feeding more fuel into the furnace.

Maintenance engineer checking technical data of system equipment.

Then came central air conditioning and furnaces with fuel lines and simple, manual thermostats. Today, many businesses are benefiting from building automation systems. This article addresses what a building automation system is, how it works, and the advantages owners enjoy from implementing a building automation solution.

Building Automation System Components

In general terms, a building automation system (BAS) controls a commercial building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to improve occupant comfort, reduce energy use, lower energy costs, and minimize the human intervention required to achieve these goals. It may also coordinate lighting and other systems to reduce energy consumption, improve security, etc.

Building automation systems include various components depending on their goals. However, they typically have these elements:

  • Primary control system
  • Sensors
  • In-room thermostats or room controllers
  • Communication systems
  • Heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting systems
  • Software to integrate all of the above

When these components work together seamlessly, building owners and occupants enjoy many benefits.

Building Automation System Benefits

When asked for a brief description of the advantages of building automation systems, HVAC experts often simply say automation “lowers energy consumption.” That’s certainly true, but the benefits go far beyond using less energy.

When your building systems work together in an orchestrated manner, your people, company and the environment reap the benefits.

How building automation systems benefit employees and customers
  • Occupants and visitors stay comfortable.
  • Workers are more productive when they aren’t continually dealing with an environment that’s too warm or cold.
  • A BAS can deliver tailored environmental conditions to different locations in a commercial building.
  • Proper airflow, filtering, etc., can help support employee and visitor wellness.
  • A comfortable environment can even help businesses retain employees.
How building automation systems benefit companies
  • Building automation systems help companies lower their energy consumption and costs. While this isn’t the only benefit, it is the most significant to many property owners—especially as energy costs continue to rise.
  • Automation can extend the useful life of HVAC system components by optimizing their functioning. In other words, the system doesn’t have to work as hard and therefore puts less stress on its parts.
  • Proper environmental conditions improve the performance of other devices, equipment, etc. Machines, like people, work best at specific temperatures. The more effectively you maintain that temperature, the better they perform.
  • Automation reduces labor costs by reducing the time facility management personnel spend adjusting, troubleshooting and servicing HVAC equipment. This is partly due to the system monitoring and tracking data, making it easier to pinpoint problems.
  • Automated systems can be more resilient than manual ones. This results from smooth, integrated operations and also the data monitoring and tracking capabilities mentioned above. By reviewing system information regularly, facility management teams can anticipate and address problems before they occur or worsen.
  • A BAS may increase a property’s value in various ways. For example, a buyer may be willing to pay a premium for a facility that has a building automation system. And a BAS keeps the structure at a consistent temperature with good airflow and proper filtering, which prevents functional and aesthetic issues from arising.
How building automation systems benefit the environment
  • The previously noted reduction in energy consumption is better for the planet.
  • A BAS can also reduce a facility’s carbon footprint and help move it toward carbon neutrality.
  • A building automation system makes it easier to report on sustainability initiatives.
  • And circling back to business benefits… Operating a facility sustainably can impress your customers, investors and community, leading to more business opportunities.

Beyond Heating and Cooling: Other Building Automation System Benefits

In addition to heating and cooling your building more efficiently and effectively, a building automation system can serve occupants in other ways. Integration with lighting systems can ensure that spaces are illuminated only when appropriate. For example, the system can activate lights in common areas, along walkways and in parking lots as the sun sets to support occupant ease of use and safety. Then, it can turn lights off as the sun rises to reduce energy usage.

Similarly, a BAS can control access and security systems. It might allow free access to a building from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. but require an access card or code outside of those hours, helping people working late or arriving early feel more secure and protecting the property in general.

Building Automation Systems: Excellent ROI That’s Easy to Obtain

While the HVAC-related functioning of building automation systems is complex, implementing a solution isn’t. When you work with Timberline Mechanical, we manage the process from start to finish. That includes developing designs that emphasize cost savings and reliability, working with you on budgeting and securing the necessary components.

Then, we implement and test the system components to ensure they work as designed and deliver the expected benefits. Our team also provides preventative maintenance to keep systems at peak performance. And, if problems arise, our expert technicians can assess and resolve them.

Get Started With Building Automation

Building owners are increasingly looking for ways to reduce energy consumption, lower costs and extend HVAC system lifespans while simultaneously improving occupant comfort. A BAS can help you do all that and more.

If you’re considering implementing a building automation system, a good first step is to learn about what’s possible. We’re happy to talk about your goals and challenges and then describe how a well-designed and properly implemented system can address them.

Whether you want to upgrade existing systems or are in the planning phase for a new facility and need to outfit it with a building automation system, we can help you determine what’s best for your business, occupants and the environment.

Contact Timberline Mechanical today to discuss building automation and the excellent return on investment for a BAS project.

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