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How Technology Has Changed the Building Management Industry

Garima Bharadwaj
Garima Bharadwaj

28th July 2022

Introduction

In today’s technologically advanced world, building management is a priority for everyone who aspires to construct, and buildings are being built to maximize occupant comfort while consuming the least amount of energy. Diverse technologies, such as Building Management Systems (BMS), are already being used in modern buildings to control electricity, lighting, ventilation, heating, cooling, water use, and more. 

Building management is frequently used to refer to particular facets of the administration and effectiveness of buildings as a whole. Meanwhile, the market for building management systems has changed more quickly recently, which has led to an acceleration in the development of intelligent and integrated building management systems.

Nowadays, it is a top priority for property owners, facility managers, and infrastructure providers to enhance tenant satisfaction and wellbeing while maximizing energy savings, reducing expenses, and preserving availability. The most effective method to achieve these many objectives is with a contemporary BMS that goes far beyond HVAC controls. Also, building management systems (BMS) with Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities can improve building performance and user experience by utilizing sensor-generated data.

Role of Technology in Building Management Industry

Although BMS has technologically advanced in sophistication in recent years, the idea is not new and has progressively developed over the past 50+ years into the systems we have today. BMS has always benefited from the technical advancements of the day, but today’s smart building technology is having an unprecedented impact on BMS. A building’s mechanical and electrical systems, such as the ventilation, lighting, electricity, fire, and security systems, are monitored and managed by the BMS, which is essentially a computer-based management system. 

In order to improve subsystems like lighting, electricity, and HVAC, contemporary BMS systems enable the combination of historical trend analysis and real-time data collection. The possibilities of big data are constantly expanding. By performing big data analysis on the previously gathered data, businesses can take data-driven decisions in order to implement energy optimization actions. For instance, BMS can create an indoor environment that improves people’s health and productivity by continuously monitoring and managing air quality. Furthermore, BMS can enhance maintenance scheduling and lower expensive downtime by keeping track of various machine health metrics. 

Additionally, modern cloud computing technology allows for remote building monitoring and management. This not only gives building managers more flexibility, but it also improves the security and safety of the building’s occupants and its assets. Alarms connected to HVAC, fire, security, and access control systems provide quick and efficient response to a range of emergency scenarios. 

The recent growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) in smart buildings is responsible for all of these advances. As BMS and IoT advance, more financial savings and cutting-edge technologies will become accessible, offering the real estate industry unrivaled value and worth. BMS technology will inevitably develop to serve as the central node of smart buildings since data and connectivity are clearly the future of construction.

Evolutionary Stages of Technology in the Building Management Industry

Though they have evolved to be more intelligent recently, building management systems (BMS) are by no means a new technology. In actuality, over the past 50+ years, they have steadily changed into the systems we see today. The existing BMS technologies allow for the development of next-generation building management systems (BMS), which act as the instrument for data integration and aggregation across various OT (operations technology) devices and sensors across the building. Below given are the stages of the evolution of building management systems.

1. Open Protocols

The best way to think of open protocols is as the “languages” that objects use to speak to one another.  Technically speaking, they facilitate server communication within a network. The early BMS was composed of numerous unconnected subsystems. To make sense of it, building managers or operators are required to gather aggregate data from various systems in one or more buildings. The development of building communication protocols helped to some extent to address the shortcomings of early BMS.

2. Proprietary Protocols

A proprietary protocol is similar to an exclusive language that can be used for all systems and devices within a BMS in order for them to communicate and comprehend one another. Building owners were forced to choose a single protocol due to the restrictive nature of proprietary protocols, which restricted their choice of building automation equipment. As a result, the convergence of individual subsystems that run on different protocols was severely constrained. Each protocol has benefits of its own, and following it correctly is an efficient way to satisfy the demands and budgets of building owners while also optimizing building systems. Therefore, using multiple open protocols is a standard practice for BMS.

3. Wireless Communications

Since going wireless means fewer cables, wires, and conduits, BMS users are increasingly embracing wireless communication technology. In particular, when it comes to infrastructure or building management challenges, wireless communication methods help traditional hardwired connections overcome their drawbacks. The following are some advantages of wireless communication technologies when used in building management systems.

  1. Wireless Connectivity: Since physical wiring is a barrier to connectivity in large commercial structures like hospitals that are dispersed over a wide region, wireless technology offers a viable substitute. 
  2. Increased Adaptability and Flexibility: The use of wireless communication over formerly rigid wired networks boosted the flexibility and adaptivity with which BMS could be installed, especially when changing existing structures or buildings. The capital cost of implementing BMS in new and existing buildings has decreased by 34% and 55%, respectively, due to the introduction of wireless communication.
  3. Remote Usability: In today’s fully connected digital world, seamless remote control and BMS accessibility are made possible through wireless networks. Users can monitor, access, and operate BMS anytime, anywhere via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets that are connected to BMS, regardless of their physical location. Building automation tools and gadgets can now be purchased with wired or wireless communications. The Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon is the next major development in BMS connectivity as wireless connectivity in the building sector ultimately replaces cable connectivity.

3 Factors influencing the Technological Development of BMS

The progression of BMSs from being solely an HVAC control system to becoming more than just a smart building system integration platform for proactive monitoring, management, and automation is being driven by both societal and technological considerations.

Growing demand for sustainability and efficiency

An efficient building management system must be able to monitor and manage all powered systems in the building in order to fully optimize energy use throughout the entire site and go beyond simply regulating HVAC systems. Traditional BMS systems aren’t equipped to handle this. A contemporary, next-generation BMS offers the resources required to completely optimize energy use, adhere to mounting public demand, and meet legislative climate standards. 

Frequently changing tenant/occupant demands and expectations

As tenant and occupant expectations change, the current BMS is being forced to incorporate new features and carry out new operations. People who live and work in buildings are becoming more aware of climate change and sustainability issues, and they also want to use less energy for both economic and environmental reasons. Compared to earlier generations, people nowadays are also more likely to be worried about their own physical and mental health, as well as the effect that their environment has on such things.

Buildings must be designed so that their occupants find them pleasant and entertaining, in addition to being safe. As a result, the changing demands and expectations of tenants have changed the duties of the facilities manager. Thus, the scope of the BMS must also be adjusted. In order to meet these objectives, buildings must be constructed with mobility in mind and utilize smart building technologies, both of which may be managed and controlled by cutting-edge building management systems.

Emergence of modern IT, IoT and smart building technologies

As the underlying technology has advanced over time, building management systems have also changed. For instance, older conventional systems that used pneumatic (compressed air), analogue, and electro-mechanical control types offered extremely basic HVAC equipment control. Building technology manufacturers and system integrators can now more easily and affordably integrate microprocessor-based controls, sensors, and IP network connectivity to a growing number of their products and systems thanks to the “Internet of Things” (IoT) technology. 

With the development of low-power, line-of-sight wireless network technologies like Zigbee and Bluetooth, it is now much easier to wirelessly link building controllers with a wide range of IoT sensors and field controllers. Since it is so simple to link equipment and systems using IP protocols, a building management system (BMS) may now directly assist tenants in addition to monitoring and controlling more. Previously, the BMS exclusively served the facility manager.

Data generation will skyrocket as sensors and IoT devices expand quickly. As IoT technology advances, there will be more opportunities to employ “Big Data” analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques on this IoT data to improve building operations and management. Also, analytics and AI are developing into mature sectors with established use cases in applications for IT and data centers, as well as increasingly in commercial structures.

How has IoT Technology impacted the Building Management Industry?

IoT refers to a highly interconnected network of “things” that can collect and send data through the Internet Protocol (IP). It simply means that machines are conversing with other machines and humans (users). With the development of IoT technology, building management systems have reached new heights in the modern world. In the context of building operations, IoT is a term that refers to a large number of data points or end points in a building that communicate with one another and the cloud over the internet. This data is used by analytical programmes and tools to produce information that can be used to improve the performance of buildings. Below are some of the benefits of IoT technology for the building management industry.

1. Increased Data Points throughout the BMS

IoT dramatically increases the number of data points inside a building and broadens the types and quantities of data that can be gathered and shared across the infrastructure. An additional intriguing feature is the ability to access, transmit, and analyze data points that are independent from the external building environment, which further helps in exclusive decision-making. The building environment will be automatically optimized by varying temperature controls to produce energy efficiencies, improve occupant comfort and productivity, and generate cost savings, for instance, by using data on the short-term weather forecast that is combined and analyzed with data generated by the BMS.

2. Big Data Analytics 

A building generates enormous volumes of data, which are stored in the cloud. This information spans a wide range of sources and time periods. Owners and managers of buildings will find this of great value, but only if the data is really put to use. Because of this, the cloud also serves as a platform for big data analytics processing. Big data analytics refers to sophisticated analytical tools that process enormous, complicated data volumes to produce valuable, usable information.In terms of building automation, big data analytics can explore the data to find trends, connections, correlations, and patterns. This automated procedure gives the user unprecedented levels of visibility and control over the equipment, systems, and facilities in a facility and paves the way for wise decision-making.

3. Personalized Building Management

BMS with IoT support can help cut down on costs associated with administration, maintenance, and repair. For example, building owners can use the information gathered by motion and occupancy IoT sensors at the building level to instantly adjust the lighting and air conditioning, saving money on energy and making the interior environment ideal for its intended usage. In addition, IoT-enabled buildings’ continuous monitoring and predictive capabilities can help prevent a repair or maintenance issue by allowing a building manager to make the necessary repairs before any tenants even become aware of a problem.

4. Focus on Occupant’s Wellbeing

As technology evolves, sensors have been able to assist CRE building owners in gathering information on building air quality and temperature. Furthermore, the ideal ventilation and temperature levels for a given day could be determined by combining data from motion sensors and other sources with environmental data (temperature and air quality) acquired by BMS. The HVAC and lighting systems of the buildings can make the required modifications to the ventilation and space conditioning, giving the occupants a comfortable and healthier atmosphere.

5. Enhanced Safety and Security

The Internet of Things (IoT) in buildings is revolutionary in terms of safety and security since it makes it easy to remotely monitor smoke detectors, alarms, and other life-safety devices. Applications gather sensor data in real-time and send it, along with emergency information, to controllers. It is most helpful in high-risk environments like hospitals, where quick staff responses are essential to saving lives, as well as manufacturing plants. IoT technologies accelerate various processes to enable completion with the minimum amount of human involvement. With IoT-enabled BMS systems, businesses in the building maintenance ecosystem can unwind knowing that security-related concerns are taken care of.

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Conclusion

The effect of technology in the building management sector is being fueled by the need to improve energy efficiency, satisfy tenant expectations, and the development of newer IT and smart building innovations. Next-generation BMS are an essential tool for managing a complete building, or perhaps a fleet of buildings, in a way that is safe, reliable, and focused on people. BMSs have evolved from simple HVAC controls to being a smart building integration platform.  Utilizing a next-generation BMS enables customers to benefit from potent new technologies that will eventually automate and simplify monitoring and control capabilities. The Internet of Things (IoT) offers valuable opportunities to guarantee operational effectiveness and peak building performance. With the Know Your Building™ solution, you get access to a business intelligence dashboard that displays all of the crucial details about a commercial real estate property. The solution evaluates the space used, keeps track of electrical usage, enhances security, and handles emergencies, thereby taking care of all of your building management needs. Get in touch with us right away to effectively manage your commercial real estate operations.


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