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Real-time monitoring and Internet protocol (IP) capability are essential in a BAS/EMS. Alarms are faster and more detailed in today's systems. Knowing about them and being able to respond in seconds can correct potential problems before building occupants are aware anything's amiss.
"Using a Web-based protocol, the BAS/EMS lets the facility manager know what's happening in seconds," says Althoff. "System reports are generated so quickly and so often that they can actually be used as measuring tools for performance."
Precision real-time information is an important tool for facility managers looking to purchase energy at the lowest cost. "One motivator is being able to go to the energy market with solid usage data in real time so you can get better deals on energy," says Sinopoli.
The desire to know what is happening with energy use stretches from the building occupant to the boardroom, thanks to more enterprise-wide systems. The ability of today's BAS/EMS to take almost any data point to a standardized database means everyone can get the information they need. "Once the information is in one location, a contractor can tweak the dashboards," Sinopoli says.
Facility departments can view schematics of air handlers and variable air volume boxes. Meanwhile, the business executive's dashboard displays how much energy was consumed, how much that energy consumption cost and how today's expenditures compare to last year's during the same time period. In the building lobby, digital signage or interactive kiosks let tenants and the general public see what energy the building is using.
"Owner IT departments finally seem ready to support, even embrace, the convergence of IP-enabled BAS devices on the corporate enterprises," says Knight. "Early adopters have been forecasting this for years, but until fairly recently we observed a healthy amount for friction from the average corporate IT and infoset teams."
The newer technologies improve building management in numerous ways. Their real-time capability, for instance, is beneficial for companies wanting to take advantage of utility pricing. They provide better time-of-day use data, which can allow the facility manager to budget utility costs more accurately. New BAS/EMS systems also allow easier network expansions, crucial in many companies that are using enterprise-wide management systems.
"If the building has tenant meters, it's easier to separate loads," says Althoff.
In addition, modern BAS/EMS systems are relatively easy to install. "The average mechanical contractor can pull off multi-protocol integrations without too much trouble," says Knight. As a result, system integration leaders are bundling "best-of-breed software enhancements as a standard offering," Knight says.
Four Big Changes are Reshaping BAS/EMS
1. Diagnostics software has the ability to analyze equipment data from the BAS/EMS and predict problems before they have a serious impact.
2. More sophisticated dashboards enable facility managers to target information for specific needs, whether that is an executive level overview or a lobby kiosk.
3. Real time information enables faster identification and response to problems that may be causing unnecessary energy consumption, while also enabling facility managers to take better advantage of utility pricing.
4. Middleware can connect systems using disparate protocols.
Real-time Information is Big Advantage of Modern BAS/EMS Systems