The building automation and controls market is projected to grow from its 2019 valuation of $101.91 billion to $215.59 billion by 2027. This is because the benefits of building automation are far-reaching, leading to more and more investments being put towards it.
From the luxury of remote building control, to optimized energy and resource usage. From smart, motion-controlled lighting, to automated reconfiguration of ventilation and heating systems. From smartphone-controlled security systems, to cloud-based building management dashboards; modern building automation solutions help achieve so much more than ever before.
In the following building automation guide you’ll find these topics:
- What is building automation?
- Advantages of building automation
- Automation and energy efficiency
- Automation and sustainability
- Remote building and energy management
- Building automation solutions
- Building automation trends
What is Building Automation?
Building automation encompasses any technology, equipment, or procedure that enables autonomous control of the systems that make a property. This can range from mechanical, security, and flood safety, to energy utilization, ventilation, heating, and lighting systems. Imparting smartness to such systems may sometimes require installation of new hardware, like sensors and control systems. Other times, minor hardware tweaks and a software interface can suffice.
Regardless of the nature of a building automation solution, the goals are often similar:
- Add predictability to the operation of different systems. E.g., when temperature reaches X degrees, set the ventilation settings to Y points.
- Monitor the usage of energy and resources.
- Reduce the chances of human error by minimizing the need for manual inputs.
- Afford and provide a smarter and sustainable way of living.
- Reduce operational, maintenance, and utility costs.
Advantages of Building Automation
Let’s explore the many advantages of building automation systems.
Operational, Maintenance, and Energy Savings
It’s easy to imagine that you will be cutting back on operational costs by reducing your dependence on manual labor and inspection. But that’s not all the savings you’d gather. By making systems autonomous, you also reduce the chances of malfunctions due to misconfigurations or similar human errors, which may lead to a significant reduction in maintenance costs.
Moreover, some building automation solutions also provide smart appliance monitoring features, which can accurately predict beforehand when some equipment may fail. This allows you to plan maintenance windows without facing downtime, and without wasting hours (sometimes even days) on finding root causes manually. Learn more about the benefits of having a predictive maintenance strategy for buildings.
Some intelligent building automation products are also good at conserving energy. They use bare-minimum energy while operating, turning themselves off when idle. This, of course, can also lead to a lot of savings in energy and resource utilization.
Making your Building (More) Sustainable
Building automation systems not only lead to a higher energy efficiency, but also reduced CO2 emissions. For example, energy management solutions allow you to visualize your building’s energy spend, identify avenues of improvement, and then implement measures to minimize energy usage, as much as possible. Since CO2 emissions are a direct consequence of energy consumption, this also drastically reduces your building’s carbon footprint.
Building Automation Makes Occupants Happier
People have become more conscious about sustainability and smartness than ever before. According to a survey by Johnson Controls, around 70% tenants believe that smartness, and the ability to quickly diagnose and solve problems, will be “game-changer” technologies for buildings.
By toggling ventilation settings based on temperature and occupancy, you can ensure that your tenants/visitors always enjoy a moderate climate. By earning green building certifications, you can encourage more and more people to want to associate with your building. All this can only be made possible if you invest in building automation solutions that guarantee high scores on the smartness and sustainability indexes, while also adding to your profitability.
Valuable Insights – Anytime, Anywhere
The cloud-based dashboards of modern building automation solutions give you access to all the important metrics, KPIs, and insights about your building’s systems. You get a bird’s eye view of all the relevant things going on within your building, without having to manually visit the premises, and/or interact with individual devices.
Some building automation products also offer remote control over your building’s systems and functions. For example, modern HVAC automation systems give administrators the ability to toggle ventilation settings remotely. Expecting early traffic tomorrow, but can’t visit the premises to change the ventilation settings beforehand? No worries. Just log on to the dashboard from your smartphone or laptop, change the ventilation settings for tomorrow morning, and cool down the building before the cavalry arrives!
Building Automation Can Enhance Security
Advanced security automation systems give you the ability to manage your entire building’s security via a smartphone app. Want to lock the entire property, shutting down all entrances and exits? Just a button click away. CCTV cameras equipped with intrusion detection algorithms can make it virtually impossible for anyone to trespass.
Leave Your Competition Behind
All the new smartness and sustainability features will give your building a formidable competitive advantage. Tenants will prefer your building because it makes their life more convenient, and also helps fight against climate change. Employees will thrive more in an environment which appreciates automation and modernization. Customers will choose your mall over the rest because your demand controlled ventilation system always ensures a moderate indoor climate.
Types of Building Automation Solutions
There are more types of building automation solutions than we can mention here; but here’s a list of the ones you should definitely know about:
Energy Management Solutions
Atmospheric CO2 has been on the rise for the last 3-4 decades, but it has now reached a point where we desperately need to break the pattern. Energy management solutions (EMS) can help in this regard by collecting energy consumption data from different building systems, and applying different techniques to reduce utilization. In addition to the automatic adjustments and reprogramming of devices and systems, an EMS can also provide you access to real-time energy usage statistics, and forecast future usage.
HVAC Automation Solutions
HVACs consume more energy than any other system within a building. This is because in most buildings, the same HVAC settings keep running regardless of the changing occupancy and/or temperature. This sometimes leads to empty buildings with ventilation still running, and ACs running on full throttle, even when it suddenly starts snowing outside (and the weather changes drastically). HVAC automation is the perfect solution for such problems.
A HVAC automation system integrates directly with the HVAC, becoming able to reprogram it on-the-fly. It can feed off sensor data which depicts fluctuations in indoor and outdoor temperatures, weather forecast, occupancy, CO2 levels, and other factors. Based on these factors, it can toggle a HVAC’s settings in order to ensure an optimal climate and optimized energy utilization.
Smart Lighting Solutions
Smart lighting solutions give you the ability to control your building’s lighting using a smartphone or web application. Some come with motion detection features, which automatically turn a light source on/off based on occupancy of an area. This is, once again, a great way to reduce the overall energy usage of a building.
Smart Building Navigation Solutions
It can sometimes be overwhelming to navigate a building; especially if it’s your first visit, and especially if the building is huge. Smart building navigation solutions allow visitors and/or employees to reach their desired destination using their mobile phones. By tracking a user’s current location, and showing them directions to all possible places within a building, they help deliver an excellent customer experience.
Remote Control Solutions
Having a way to remotely control systems within your building is no longer a nice-to-have. Sometimes, you may forget to lock the premises down, or turn off the ventilation, or cut the power to a device that shouldn’t run at night. In such situations, having a system that provides remote control over your building is priceless. These solutions can integrate with all the main devices within your building, giving you an interface to work with them remotely.
Building Automation Trends – What to Expect?
The building automation industry has seen some major paradigm shifts in the last few years. Here’s what we can expect from the future:
Interconnecting Every Machine and System
IoT has picked up pace in the real-estate industry, but we are still not quite at a stage where every machine within a building is connected to a central network. In the coming years, we can expect that to change. Being able to visualize every device and its impact from a central dashboard will forever change the world of building operations and management.
Retrofitting Old Buildings Will Be Even Easier
We have already seen revolutionary changes in the way old buildings are retrofitted and made smarter. Modern solutions like ClevAir can interface with hardware within older buildings, often without requiring any major architectural changes. However, we believe that things will become even simpler in the years to come!
More Energy Efficient Buildings
With more people becoming aware of the risks of Climate Change, we expect a rise in investments into making buildings energy-efficient. But it’s not just the fear of losing the planet that may motivate people to invest in energy management, it’s also the potential of saving a lot of money in energy expenditures.