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Building Automation Systems

9/9/2013 8:22:33 AM | by The Green Book

Building Automation Systems

A building automation system (BAS) is a network of intelligent electronic devices that are interlinked. They monitor and control the environment in buildings, such as regulating temperature, turning the lights on and off based on a schedule, providing alarms and ensures the building reaches optimal performance.

 

In the 1960s – 70s, the large majority of control systems were pneumatic, meaning they were operated via air and pressure. Many buildings still use these systems nowadays because they were installed then. After that, analog digital control devices were more popular due to them being fast and precise. A proper automated system was not possible till the 1990s when digital control devices were introduced. Different manufacturers created their own systems of communication at first, so different products could not be mixed. However, an ‘open’ system of communication was developed and is now used.

 

Generally, mechanical, electronic and plumbing systems can be controlled by a building automaton system, such as the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. The other components of these systems, such as boilers, chillers or fans are also controlled by the systems. Other systems can also be controlled, such as power monitoring and the operation of things like escalators or elevators. Building automation systems can also handle alarms and security and can alert people, through things like email, cell phones or by sounding an alarm.

 

The building automation system has many parts that help it to manage the building. The most important of these are the controllers. Controllers are small computers that have input and output capabilities, and controllers are able to control the devices commonly found in the building and the sub-network of controllers. The inputs allow the computer to read various factors such as temperature and humidity, and the outputs allow the controller to send signals to other devices and the system.

 

The building automation system usually operates on a mode called ‘Occupancy’. Some of the common modes are ‘Unoccupied’ or ‘Morning warm-up’. In the Occupancy mode, the system aims to ensure the building occupants have a comfortable environment, through things like temperature sensors. Often, the different modes try to bring the building to desired settings before and after Occupancy to ensure efficiency.

 

‘Room automation’ also exists, and it operates like the building automation system, just that this time the system controls the environment in a single room. This system is usually used in rooms such as lecture halls or corporate boardrooms that have a great deal of equipment that would make operating it all manually very difficult. Usually, room automation systems have a touch screen that allows each operation to be easily managed.

 

The building automation system usually cannot be seen in the building because most of it is hidden away in the floor, ceiling or walls. Usually, some devices like thermostat controls provide personalized control. The entire system can also be controlled through computer software or via a web page.

 

Building automation systems are useful because they reduce the need for manpower when it comes to looking after a building and are more efficient because everything can be controlled via the main controller, compared to sending out workers to do things like turn on the lights every morning. The system is also useful because it provides information about building performance so owners have a better understanding of how their building is operating and can make more informed decisions. It also helps building be more ‘green’, as things such as lights can be automatically turned off when they are not in use. Usually, building automation systems are found in commercial, industrial or institutional buildings, but nowadays more homes are adopting this system as well, and are known as ‘smart homes’ or ‘intelligent buildings’.

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