Why Building Automation Systems are Critical to Commercial Office Performance and Management Today

For those of us that have had something to do with leasing and managing any major high rise commercial building, the term ‘building automation system’ (otherwise known as BAS) is somewhat familiar.  It refers to the functions of the building and how they are controlled.

Modern buildings today are constructed with a view to economy of operation, practicality of design, and efficiency in performance.  Those things can be achieved through the use of BAS technology and how that technology can be integrated into the building design and construction.   An efficient building that satisfies the demands of today’s tenants stands a reasonable chance of attracting new tenants and retaining current tenants.  Tenants demand efficiencies and performance from any property they occupy, in exchange for paying prime rentals.

BAS Targets

The main targets of a BAS are to do most if not all of the following:

  • Controlling energy use within the property to produce efficiencies in plant operation for all the stakeholders.
  • Allowing the plant and equipment within the building to operate correctly at the right time of day and seasonally given building design and plant installations, together with tenant, visitor, and landlord requirements.
  • Providing methods of tracking and monitoring building performance for maintenance personnel.

In any high rise office tower built in the last 10 years you are likely to find a building automation system in one form or another.  The capabilities of the system will have an impact on building operational costs and function.  For that reason the BAS has to be understood and used by specialized and trained personnel.

Expectations of Property Performance

There are some expectations from a BAS that will help any Property Manager with monitoring and controlling the property performance, maintenance and cost controls.  Here are some of the main ones to watch for:

  1. Building Monitoring – If something goes wrong in plant operation then the alarms and monitors within the BAS should alert the right people to any problems. Efficient building monitoring allows for alarm and alert responses at the right time and in the right way.
  2. DDC – Direct digital control is a terminology that refers to the way in which controls are achieved over plant and equipment in the building. From a series of computer interfaces any required adjustments can be made to major elements of building plant.  Those adjustments may be required due to temperature changes, load requirements inside the building, temperature shifts, and the number of people in the property at any given point of time.
  3. Energy efficiency – Today the energy costs to run a building are high. The BAS should allow the monitoring of energy consumption 24 hours per day within the building and for adjustments to be made in ‘load shedding’ at times where efficiency can be created.
  4. Maintenance events – A commercial office tower is somewhat like a large ship when it comes to complexity and operational equipment. Things have to run and occur within the building at the right time and in the right way (air conditioning is a good example), otherwise problems of occupancy start to happen and ultimately that can have an impact on rent and tenant comfort.  Given this requirement, the maintenance of all equipment in the property should be tracked and controlled within the BAS.  Sensors and computer controlled software programs will track and alert required maintenance programs.

So you can see the need here for an efficient and up to date building automation system in a modern commercial office tower.  The BAS will help greatly in the leasing, management, running of the property.

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