If you work in commercial or retail property management or leasing, you will soon come across the terminology of building automation in larger buildings. The issue or concept generally applies to buildings where the building function issues are complex and therefore for efficiencies, the operational elements of the building are integrated into daily property operations, plant and machinery, fire safety, tenants needs, air conditioning, and security controls. (NB – you can get more commercial property management ideas in ‘Snapshot’ right here)
A building with a ‘building automation system’ (BAS) is likely to be modern, potentially financially efficient, and attractive to tenants from a leasing perspective.
Energy efficient buildings are likely to be those that incorporate a BAS function into the property operations and facility management systems.
Control is an advantage in property operations. The idea here is that the greater level of control gained from using a BAS in a property, and it usually gives tangible responses and financial advantages in:
- Property outgoings
- Landlord net returns
- Tenant occupancy costs
- Occupancy advantages
- Tenant services and responses
Installing a BAS?
So how do you get this BAS into your building? A system of this type will usually be installed in the construction of the building; it is too hard and expensive to install in an existing building. Commercial and retail property tenants at the ‘quality end’ of the leasing market expect efficiencies and security in their property use. A BAS can do that. You will likely see a system of some capability in:
- High rise office towers
- Larger industrial properties and warehouses
- Retail shopping centers
- Larger buildings where multiple tenants are in occupancy
- Energy efficient buildings
In can be said that if you have a building of this nature with a BAS installed, the concept should be incorporated into the marketing of lettable space. The BAS is a ‘marketable’ advantage in your leasing campaign, so do something with it in all your marketing materials.
Here are some of the advantages that a system like this can provide to building occupants as part of property management:
- Display real time information relating to tenant areas, common areas, and plant and machinery. When something is happening in the building the alarms and monitoring systems will be tracking in a constant and ongoing way.
- Provide tenant controllable air conditioning on a floor by floor and zone by zone basis. This is a leasing advantage for many larger companies and corporations with diverse needs in occupancy space. Zones can be selectively controlled when it comes to heat loads with staffing, and building use.
- Security factors can be integrated into property operations. In larger buildings, you typically get zone and perimeter security, with staff specific access controls. In companies with larger staff numbers, this is a distinct advantage with day to day operations. If problems happen with staff and or operational issues, you can isolate zones and access points.
- Operational costs from efficiencies in the running of plant and equipment are a leasing and tenant mix advantage. As the seasons change during the year, the building air conditioning can be adjusted from the BAS. The same changes can occur daily with heat loads in and around the building.
- Lift and escalator controls from a central point of building operations such as a control room are valuable. It is expensive to move people around in the building. There is no point in running the lifts and escalators when the occupancy of the building is low, such as after hours. Time settings can be placed by the BAS to impact the operations of the larger machinery systems in the building.
- Fire safety monitoring and responses. There are zones in a building to monitor for fire safety; there are many different fire response systems including sprinklers, smoke detectors, stairwell pressurization, exit and emergency doors, and safety indicator signs. When something goes wrong in a building, the building automation system will be the first to trigger the alarms or deficiencies.
- Energy consumption in both common and tenant areas can be tracked and changed during the day, week, or year as climate and building use will dictate. Today, we know and see that energy is both expensive and essential when it comes to building operations. Energy can be ‘purchased’ at a discount on a ‘contract’ arrangement with suppliers, or generated through alternatives such as solar panels, wind, or gas co-generation.
- Lighting in common areas can be changed to energy efficient devices, but also the common area power systems and the associated machinery in a building can be controlled from a central point.
These are the most common aspects of building automation and efficiency that you will see with a BAS. A security control room or a dedicated computer system in a property will likely provide the control capability to optimize property performance and operations.