Apr 30, 2017 Last Updated 10:20 AM, Apr 28, 2017

Modernising assets: 10 reasons why now is the time to upgrade your building

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There are many arguments for making a building more energy efficient which go above and beyond just financial savings. However, it is not always easy to know where to start making changes. Here, Steve Harris of global specialist in energy management, Schneider Electric, gives 10 reasons why now is the time to upgrade your building.

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In reality, updating a building is not that dissimilar to upgrading a mobile phone. To put this into context, there are many great functions and services which are only available to smart phone users, which would be impossible to utilise if operating an old mobile phone without internet connectivity. In this sense, building management systems are very similar. In order to reap the many benefits of an intelligent BMS, it is important to be able to continually evolve your system, drawing in information from third parties and enable the existing legacy equipment to integrate seamlessly with the new system. So what are the 10 reasons to upgrade a building?

#1: Get one view into your world

By implementing an intelligent BMS, end-users can gain one central view of an entire building or estate. While many companies operate each function as separate from one another, it is now possible to see the overall energy demands on one user-friendly interface. This means bringing the HVAC system, lighting, power management and security together. By taking an overview of how a site is functioning as a whole, the end-user has greater control and manageability over their surroundings. It is also possible to lower energy consumption and monitor peaks and troughs in demand, giving the business the tools to control the way it operates in order to save money.

#2: Integration of estates

In a bid to achieve this holistic view, smaller buildings can now also be incorporated into larger estates’ BMS. There was a time when smaller buildings had completely separate control systems in place, however modern solutions can now incorporate any building into one system, regardless of size. Like evolving mobile phone technology, where as consumers once required a separate phone, camera and MP3 player, they are now all rolled in to one device, enabling end-users to quickly access everything they need.

#3: Localising a global operation

Companies that operate on a global scale can also take advantage of such technology. For example, Schneider Electric’s SmartStruxure solution incorporates data from numerous sites on to one platform, giving the energy estates director complete control from wherever they are based in the world. As many global companies are striving to meet carbon reduction targets, such a solution means that pre-determined parameters can be set that all sites must adhere to.

#4: Drawing the outside in

Historically building systems operated in silo, with little to no communication between each component, let alone third party software. However, the new breed of BMS not only enables such communication, it also enables outside information to be drawn into the system, offering predictions on how it might impact the business.

#5: Analysing your building

While collecting information from a building is vital, many building managers can often feel data rich but information poor. End-users need the tools to be able to see when they are using the most energy and analyse whether this is the most efficient time to operate. For example, if functions are being carried out at times when energy prices are at peak, it will cost the company more. In this sense, by having this added insight, end-users can change how the business operates, making the most of cheaper energy tariffs and minimising the cost per unit of energy.

#6: World class software on a shoestring

Simply applying additional software to an existing HVAC system can see significant improvements to a building. Such ‘fit and forget’ solutions can be quickly added to an existing system and can get to work continually – and automatically – monitoring the building. These adaptive controls work with the existing HVAC system, optimising the environment for the building’s occupants, ensuring that the internal temperature is regulated in line with the exterior conditions. This flexibility maximises occupancy comfort, while drastically reducing energy consumption.

#7: Remote control

With an increasing number of people now owning smart devices, it is possible to utilise this technology to manage your building. With a smart phone or tablet device, a facilities manager can use software to control a system remotely. This can be a major benefit when considering an estate that is spread across a large geographical area, drastically reducing response times and giving instant access to the system of any building at any time.

#8: Readily available reports

Many facilities managers are often called upon to produce in-depth energy reports outlining how well a building is functioning. However, this isn’t always easy to do quickly, particularly when working with an older system. The new breed of BMS can make the process quick and painless, producing reports in an easy-to-view format, incorporating historical and third party data. Not only can this save a huge amount of time for any busy building manager, but it also creates a quick turnover of information when tight deadlines need to be met.

#9: Specifying your supplier

When upgrading a building, historically businesses would be restricted as to which products and software the existing system was compatible with, meaning that companies were often tied to one vendor. This meant that any investment in the building needed to be carefully considered and was potentially a big commitment to a particular manufacturer. However, with the advent of totally open architectures, this is no longer an issue. By utilising Ethernet enabled, open systems, business owners are free to install products from a variety of suppliers which can then be integrated with an existing system.

#10: Maintenance as a measurable asset

Lifecycle control is becoming increasingly important within the industry as historically, data on a building’s assets has always been difficult to collect, analyse and measure. This makes it difficult for any successor to gain a full picture of the building in terms of managing its maintenance priorities – and therefore the associated costs and true lifecycle of the equipment within it. Today’s cloud-based technology however means that all maintenance data can now be easily gathered and stored in one system, simply by adding software.

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