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Today’s Building Automation Building automation systems continue to evolve, and their importance can’t be overstated. As the global demand for energy rises, sustainability and energy efficiency aren’t considered just good financial goals, they’re becoming mandates, creating very real business challenges.

John Mesenbrink has been covering the building and construction industry for more than 15 years, focusing his efforts on the plumbing and HVAC industries— including the launch of his website, which focuses on the installation side of mechanical systems.


ho could forget the Jetsons, which depicted a futuristic lifestyle with talking watches, robot maids, flying cars and all the imagined conveniences of building comfort and intelligence? Fast-forward 50 years and one could say we are well on our way or past that prescient vision of Hanna-Barbera, sans the flying cars, of course. In all seriousness, with the use of building automation systems, buildings today have become so smart that, when operating at a high level, an automation system can be viewed as a tool that helps building operators more effectively manage their assets. “‘Intelligence’ is achieved when that data is collected, leveraged and optimized to reduce the total cost of ownership while creating comfortable, safe and sustainable building environments,” says Jim Dagley, vice president, strategic business development, Johnson Controls.

but optimizes cost across the life cycle of the building. For example, does the solution enable the owner to collect data from multiple pieces of equipment and control vendors via the cloud, normalize it and deliver in an easy-to-use application? Does the BAS system collect, track and act upon all utility data such as electricity, water, steam, gas, etc.? “These are the questions that owners should be asking,” says Dagley.

Owners can now use data to proactively identify performance concerns that may lead to wasted energy use or premature equipment failure.

Automation systems are becoming more holistic in their approach, providing an integrated view of all automated systems within the building. “We’re seeing a trend toward integration of multiple building systems into a true building automation system,” says Tom. 54 

User interfaces are becoming multi-faceted, providing detailed equipment diagnostics for the technicians who operate the systems and summary dashboards showing key performance metrics for managers. “Sustainabilityfocused kiosk interfaces for the building occupants also can be used to provide ‘bragging rights’ for the building owner, educating occupants and visitors about unique aspects of the building and ongoing sustainability programs,” says Steve Tom, director of technical information, Automated Logic.

Where to Start Owners and facility managers need to work with an HVAC expert or an energy service company that understands how to develop an HVAC solution that not only meets immediate needs,


THE CASE FOR CONTROLS It’s hard to even remotely envision a net zero facility without a control system. Not only does a BAS regulate a building’s systems for maximum efficiency, but it also delivers critical performance data which operators can act on to further improve performance.

Net Zero Buildings - June 2014  

Highlighting the Path Toward Net Zero Building Design.

Net Zero Buildings - June 2014  

Highlighting the Path Toward Net Zero Building Design.