While frequently associated with providing enhanced levels of convenience and ease to the occupants of residential properties, Building Automation Systems (BAS) also promise to radically raise the efficiency and reduce the energy consumption of buildings.
A key area of efficiency improvement is cutting down on utilities costs associated with the needless usage of energy-intensive equipment such as HVAC systems and lighting.
According to the Australian government’s Energy Efficiency Exchange (EEX), HVAC systems generally account for approximately 40 per cent of total building energy consumption and 70 per cent of base building energy usage.
Lighting is also a major source of electricity usage for homes, comprising between eight and 15 per cent of the average household electricity budget in Australia.
BAS can significantly reduce energy consumption in relation to both HVAC and lighting by a variety of means.
The simplest method is automatic scheduling – turning equipment on or off depending on the time of day, day of the week, or external weather conditions. This can also involve shutting down certain forms of equipment during those months of the year when their usage is unnecessary – such as cooling equipment in winter or heating equipment in summer.
More sophisticated forms of energy reduction involve adjusting HVAC systems in response to outside temperature level so they operate at the minimum required capacity, and providing diagnostics on the performance of HVAC equipment in order to identify any glaring malfunctions or inefficiencies.
BAS is also capable of monitoring the individual rooms of buildings to determine whether they contain occupants in order to adjust lighting and HVAC systems accordingly.
This can be a particularly effective efficiency measure in large-scale facilities with variable levels of occupancy throughout the course of the day – buildings such as office complexes, student dormitories and retirement homes, where it would otherwise be difficult to keep track of whether and when people are present within the disparate parts of a sizeable building structure.
Official studies already attest to the energy and cost savings that can be achieved via the installation of BAS technology to improve the monitoring and modulation of building systems.
According to one study by the Metropolitan Energy Policy Commission of Minnesota state, BAS technology can cut down on utility costs by as much as 15 per cent, with savings in utilities costs ranging from US$2.48 to $4.96 per square metre.
The market is already responding to the efficiency gains that can be achieved via the installation of BAS technology.
According to research from market consultancy Navigant Research, global revenue for commercial BAS is set to surge from $59.3 billion in 2013 to $86.7 billion in 2023 – a projected increase of more than 46 per cent in just a decade.
According to Navigant’s Benjamin Freas, in addition to broader market expansion, BAS is also spreading from large-scale facilities to more modest ones.
“Prevalent for some years in the largest and most modern buildings, BAS’s are now expanding into smaller buildings, as well,” said Freas. “The adoption of BAS is being driven by several goals: to provide comfort for building occupants, optimize energy use, and comply with building energy codes.”