BACS and automation: energy efficiency in buildings
Maximising the comfort of a building’s occupants and minimising the costs of maintaining it is a fine balancing act for building owners and facilities managers. Moreover, buildings deteriorate over time, and so their performance to ensure comfort and energy saving. This is where BACS – building automation control system – comes in.
BACS can be exploited in almost any property, including retail shops, restaurants, commercial properties, industrial buildings and warehouses. Proactive and automated building management is achieved through predictive technologies that allow the various systems (lighting, air conditioning, surveillance…) of a facility to be programmed, monitored and controlled remotely.
Such a system may appear to consume large amounts of energy, since we are talking about a “machine” that connects all the systems in a building that consume electricity. Actually, one of the main objectives of building automation is to save energy.
“[…] the building as a whole will perform most efficiently if all the building systems are controlled as a part of an integrated system. Well-designed control systems can increase building efficiency up to 30% without the need to upgrade existing appliances.” 1
BACS consists of a set of interconnected tools and technologies to analyse energy conditions and consumption within buildings with the aim of optimising energy costs and consumption. These tools are therefore able to monitor power supply, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, security and surveillance systems, lighting, etc.
It is estimated that BACS can save between 5% and 30% of utility costs by managing HVAC and lighting systems. HVAC and lighting are the two largest energy consumers in modern buildings and are usually the first systems to be automated. In fact, with BACS systems it is possible to monitor each zone of the building and remotely regulate the lighting and HVAC system to maintain comfort and reduce energy consumption. This clearly translates in a high level of energy saving.
How does it work?
BACS uses several sensors to track and modify the temperature, humidity and lighting in rooms. These sensors share the information collected with the controllers, which intervene to modify the settings.
Let’s take a meeting room as an example. When several people enter the room for a meeting, the temperature and humidity level can rise. Sensors will detect this and make automatic corrections, increasing the comfort of the room. In the specific case of lighting, BACS will be able to open or close the blinds, providing natural lighting in the room, and will even detect the moment when the artificial light needs to be switched on.
More advanced systems collect data on how a building is consuming energy. This makes it possible to detect any faults, as well as receiving regular information on actual consumption. This makes it possible to identify any problem related to building performance or equipment failures.
By reducing a building’s energy use, BACS also reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. In addition, BACS can be integrated into plumbing systems to monitor and reduce water use. By eliminating waste, these systems help buildings to use resources more efficiently and reduce their impact on the environment.
These systems can achieve high levels of energy savings by regulating all energy consumption within the building, avoiding energy waste or dispersion. This results in greater energy efficiency and significant cost savings. This also helps to promote environmental sustainability by avoiding over-exploitation of energy resources and instead using energy from renewable sources, such as ventilation and natural lighting.