Home » BIM and Energy » Building automation systems: revolutionizing construction

Building automation systems

Building automation systems: revolutionizing construction

Heating, ventilation, lighting… Discover how building automation systems are transforming the construction industry

Imagine designing a building that automatically responds to users’ needs, where comfort is optimized, energy is used efficiently, and security is discreet yet vigilant. Welcome to the fascinating world of building automation, where technology merges with architecture to turn buildings into intelligent and responsive environments.

This is no longer science fiction but rather a daily reality. Managing resources efficiently to create comfortable environments for humans has always been the guiding principle of every architect. Moreover, if optimizing resources also leads to considerable economic savings, opening up to automation in our homes is now essential.

If you want to know what building automation is and what are the most appreciated fields of application, read this article.

Building automation: meaning

The term “building automation” refers to the use of technological systems to control, manage, and regulate various aspects of a building automatically. These systems are designed to improve building’s operational efficiency, safety, comfort, and sustainability. Building automation involves the integration of electronic devices, sensors, software, and communication networks to centrally manage different functions within a building.

Typical functions of building automation include heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) control, lighting, security (camera management, alarm systems, motion sensors, etc.), access control, and other critical systems. The goal is to automate these systems to optimize energy consumption, improve safety, and provide a more comfortable environment for building occupants.

Smart buildings that utilize building automation often employ IoT sensors and connected devices to gather real-time data. This data is then processed by centralized control systems that make automatic decisions to optimize building performance. Building automation is increasingly important in sustainability efforts as it helps reduce energy consumption, waste, and improves operational efficiency.

To fully pursue sustainability and energy efficiency goals, it would be beneficial to maximize integration between building automation and an energy analysis software. Automation allows real-time adjustment, while software provides advanced analytical tools to optimize long-term energy consumption. This synergy is essential for proactive building management, enabling dynamic adaptation to environmental conditions and implementing targeted solutions to reduce overall energy footprint.

Additionally, energy calculation software can simulate hypothetical scenarios and provide forecasts based on historical data, helping to plan improvement interventions and implement energy-saving strategies.

Building automation systems

Building Automation Systems (BAS), also known as Building Management System (BMS) or Energy Management System (EMS), is an integrated set of hardware and software designed to centrally control and manage various systems within a building. These systems may include heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) control, lighting, security, access control, and other electronic devices.

What are the most useful Building Automation Systems for home management?

Here are some of the key features and functions of a Building Automation System:

  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) control: regulates temperature, humidity, and air quality inside the building based on occupants’ actual needs and external environmental conditions;
  • lighting control: efficiently manages lighting (adjusting it according to sunlight, time, presence of people, etc.) adapting it to occupants’ needs and utilizing natural light whenever possible;
  • security systems: monitors and controls security systems such as surveillance cameras, motion sensors, fire alarms, and access control systems, helping to ensure a safe environment and respond promptly to emergencies;
  • access control: regulates access to different areas of the building through the use of badges, PIN codes, advanced recognition systems, or other authentication methods;
  • energy management: monitors and optimizes the overall energy consumption of the building, identifying areas of waste and implementing strategies to reduce costs and improve sustainability;
  • building analytics: analyzes data from sensors to identify patterns, anomalies, or areas for improvement in the building’s operational efficiency;
  • remote monitoring and control: allows systems remote supervision and control, enabling operators to monitor building performance even distant;
  • environmental monitoring: integrated sensors for monitoring air, humidity, and water quality help maintain a healthy and comfortable environment, improving occupants’ quality of life;
  • integration with BIM systems: integration with Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems facilitates the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings, enhancing efficiency and communication among stakeholders.

The main goal of a Building Automation System is to improve energy efficiency, reduce operating costs, increase security, and provide a more comfortable environment for building occupants. Technological advancements have led to increasingly sophisticated and integrated solutions for building automation.

Integration between BAS and IoT

As mentioned earlier, the integration between Building Automation Systems (BAS) and Internet of Things (IoT) systems represents an advanced synergy that amplifies building management and control capabilities. IoT systems consist of a vast network of devices that collect and exchange data over the network, while BAS is designed for centralized control of various systems within a building. Integrating these two concepts enables smarter and more dynamic building management.

Through strategically positioned IoT sensors inside and outside the building, real-time data on air quality, temperature, lighting, and other environmental parameters can be collected. This data is then sent to the BAS, which uses the information to precisely adjust HVAC, lighting, and other devices, ensuring an optimal environment in terms of comfort and energy efficiency.

Building automation: Management of a smart building with IoT systems - Integration of IoT sensors and BIM model - usBIM.iot

The strength of the integration between BAS and IoT lies in the ability to dynamically adapt to environmental changes and provide a service tailored to occupants’ specific needs. For example, if IoT sensors detect human presence in a particular area, the BAS can automatically activate lighting and adjust temperature to ensure comfort and energy savings. Similarly, if environmental parameters are detected outside desired limits, the system can take corrective actions in real-time.

The use of open communication standards and interoperable protocols is essential to ensure effective integration between building automation systems and IoT. Interconnecting these two systems fully harnesses the potential of building automation, promoting sustainability, reducing operating costs, and improving the quality of life and work environment in modern buildings.

Furthermore, if you have access to the 3D model of the building, with a BIM IoT software, you can visualize sensor data on the model in real-time and also manage large IoT ecosystems with a dedicated dashboard. Below is a video where you can see how integration between digital models and IoT systems is possible and how real-time data can be displayed directly on BIM models. These latter, as seen in the video, can also become control and management systems for physical systems installed in the building.

In practice, you leverage all the information from the BIM model to have an automatic association between the physical IoT device and its digital twin.

All data collected by IoT sensors is communicated in real-time to the application that acquires, analyzes, and immediately makes them visible on the BIM model in IFC format.

Building automation examples

Among the examples of building automation are advanced HVAC systems. These are not simple cooling devices with Wi-Fi connectivity but rather complex infrastructures that regulate climatic conditions of entire buildings or individual units, optimizing occupants’ well-being and preventing issues related to humidity and air quality.

Similarly, managing lighting through smart systems is another fundamental pillar. These systems, based on controllable LED bulbs via Wi-Fi, allow not only customized lighting but also more sustainable energy management, thanks to the possibility of scheduling automatic shutdown based on human presence or predetermined schedules.

Building automation also encompasses access control and fixture management, with solutions that enable you programming windows and fixtures opening and closing, all conveniently manageable remotely through dedicated applications or control panels.

Finally, security is another area greatly enhanced by automation, with surveillance systems offering constant monitoring and the ability to receive immediate notifications in case of suspicious movements or intrusions, thus ensuring greater peace of mind for occupants.

Among the practical examples of building automation are smart offices, hotels, hospitals, and industrial facilities.

These innovations not only bring benefits in terms of comfort and security but also act as allies of the environment, reducing energy waste and harmful emissions. Building automation, therefore, proves to be a winning choice on multiple fronts, outlining a future where technology and sustainability merge to create smarter and more planet-friendly living spaces.