At a time when energy and environmental regulations are multiplying, and with the relentless advancement of technological innovations in the IoT field, Smart Building solutions are becoming the future of building operation and maintenance. New generation buildings have already started using a variety of new IoT technologies to manage heating, cooling, smart water consumption and other environmental and technological parameters.
This transition is leading to an evolution of building management systems (BMS) towards a more advanced smart approach, representing more than just a technological change, it shows how open and universally connected systems are becoming the future of BMS and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Traditional BMS systems
Traditional BMS or CMS (Centralised Management Systems) have been installed for years in a large part of the building stock in the commercial and industrial sector. These solutions, however, still tend to be very expensive and have a legacy business model at their base that still makes the purchase of these systems too binding on the companies that produce them.
Companies supplying BMSs often provide the system itself at a low cost, but this is only a part of the automation system controllers.
The controllers themselves will require servicing, spare parts and eventually replacement at a very high cost, making this business model focused on the profit that hardware maintenance will provide, which means that traditional BMS systems are installed almost exclusively in large buildings that can amortise the costs.
Currently, these systems are based on a centralised server architecture connected to the cloud, and while they offer many functionalities, they have several limitations in their use:
- Complex installation and configuration
- Devices requiring cabling
- Often closed systems with limited evolution
- Systems designed only for maintainers and not for providing services to building occupants
Smart Building Solutions: a technical evolution
The range of Smart Building systems is becoming increasingly diversified and hints at an ultra-connected future.
To combat the obsolescence of old BMS systems, there is a need to allow integration and interaction with new technological solutions proposed by the market and offer a new user experience to both maintainers and end users.
From this perspective, the technological changes that BMS manufacturers are making (the opening to the cloud) do not really look to the future because they always maintain a legacy business base that tends to bind the customer to itself without offering real modernisation. The new systems that are developing in the market are technologically more advanced and complex in order to accommodate the continuous technical evolution of the buildings themselves.
For example, some buildings incorporate systems that collect rainwater, others have sun-sensing systems to help manage light and temperature, and still others manage safety, fire and environmental data.
All these new systems in dialogue with each other allow building management to evolve and move closer to the IoT world.
To go into detail, unlike traditional BMSs, the new IoT-based Smart Building systems are implemented through a distributed network of smart sensors that interact with other devices and systems in order to manage, optimise and control various aspects of building operation.
The data collected by these sensors are processed and analysed almost in real time to provide feedback for better decision-making based on changing factors such as facility occupancy, time of day or outdoor climate. This helps to improve operational efficiency, minimise energy waste and enhance the occupants' experience.
Thus, the new IoT-based smart building systems offer a complete building management solution and meet the diverse needs of both maintainers and occupants.
Today, industry players are also showing a growing interest in IoT-based BMS solutions because they can offer a quick return on investment:
- lower installation or retrofitting costs
- lower energy consumption
- improved critical maintenance and safety processes
- installation flexibility
- high scalability thanks to open interfaces
- possibility of developing predictive solutions
A further positive point for Smart Building IoT solutions is that the new systems are in line with evolving regulations, including energy transition guidelines, incentives for self-consumption of energy produced and future thermal regulations. There is no doubt that, in the future, investments in energy management solutions for buildings will benefit both operators and occupants.
BMS and Smart Building an open technological ecosystem
Whatever solution is chosen, today it is no longer possible to forget the double prerequisite of openness and interoperability of existing systems towards new technological solutions. Modern BMSs will have to offer both the ability to make data and/or orders available to third-party services and the ability to exchange information between different systems.
IoT technologies will allow building management systems to evolve and become part of a larger, smarter network, thus making buildings smart.
These buildings incorporate lighting systems, HVAC equipment and sensors that not only connect to the Internet, but also communicate directly with each other, collect and share data, and then analyse it in order to optimise the various operations of a building.
Energy management is a major concern for managers and operators due to numerous current and future regulatory and economic pressures.
Beyond the immediate need for energy consumption monitoring and action plans to improve energy performance, it is important that Smart Building solutions are able to offer a full range of services:
- energy management and monitoring
- maintenance activities
- safety management
- assistance and occupant comfort
Manni Energy's challenge through Maetrics IoT services is to be able to aggregate data from multiple sources and technologies, including already implemented BMS systems, and make this data available in order to better manage its services.
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