Are You Optimizing Your Building Automation System?

Building automation systems (BAS) connect and automate various building systems — such as lighting, HVAC and security — through one set of controls. BAS systems can reduce energy costs, increase comfort and improve building performance.

However, failure to fully utilize BAS capabilities can waste time and energy and leave savings on the table. You can use the following strategies to get the most out of your BAS system.

Customize schedules

It’s common for building operators to use the same schedule for the entire building. You can maximize savings and comfort by using unique schedules for individual building spaces.

Divide your space into functioning zones based on occupancy or operating hours. For example, office areas might be occupied from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., while other spaces, such as break rooms, might be used for only a couple of hours a day. Other spaces, such as server rooms or lobbies, may require lighting or space conditioning 24/7. Identify each zone and program schedules for each. Consider occupancy and vacancy sensors for individual rooms that are even less predictable.

Prioritize alarm settings

There’s no easy way to address the most critical events when all alarms are equal. Most alarms generated by a BAS provide no diagnostics or actionable information. If the system generates many alarms (as is often the case), it becomes difficult for staff to make decisions regarding preventive maintenance. This can result in energy waste, reduced comfort and increased repair costs.

Prioritize your alarms. Start by inventorying your systems to determine their importance. Critical systems are those where failure can risk safety or vital business processes. Categorize system alarms based on their level of performance. Example categories could include critical, urgent and warning. Route alarms to appropriate individuals and develop a response procedure for each.

Monitor trend data to look for hidden faults

Real-time data is helpful, but data trends are a great way to troubleshoot your system and look for potential system issues that you won’t find with live data.

For example, chilled water reset is a control strategy to optimize chiller performance. The control setpoint is typically designed to fluctuate with the outdoor air temperature to optimize head pressure. By using BAS data to track outdoor air temperature and reset system temperature and indoor space temperature over time, you can determine if the chilled water reset is working correctly.

By fully leveraging BAS capabilities, you can reduce energy and maintenance costs while optimizing occupant comfort and the overall performance of your building systems and equipment. If your facility is due for a system upgrade or renovation, contact your local electric cooperative. Your co-op offers Power Moves® rebates for qualifying energy efficiency upgrades. You can contact your co-op’s energy advisor to start the conversation.