building energy management systems

Human activities have significant effects on the environment, whether positive or negative. Over the past few decades, we have become more conscious of the severe effects we have on our surroundings. Commercial and residential buildings are significant culprits to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission. Here is our complete guide to building energy management systems that will help you understand how you can save energy consumption and costs.

A Guide to Building Energy Management Systems

When it comes to energy consumption, various buildings have different power consumption levels. The largest consumers are the residential and commercial buildings, which is significantly influenced by the time we spend indoors. Building energy management systems, therefore, becomes essential tools to help manage and control the energy needs of a building.

Buildings consume an absurd amount of energy primarily due to the emergence of a 24/7 society. In our current environment, most buildings and machines run on a 24/7 cycle where power consumption is continuous.

Whether it’s lighting in the offices, homes, heating, operating data centers with many servers, we are continuously consuming energy in all facets of life.

Based on a report released by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), commercial buildings consume virtually 20% of the total energy generated in the US. When business and residential are combined, they consume around 70% of the total energy produced in the US.

Additionally, when combined, they provide an average of 38% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

All these figures make it necessary to implement building energy management systems in buildings to control these extreme energy consumptions.

Energy management systems will not only help reduce the negative effect your commercial building is having on the environment, but they can reduce your overhead costs as well as cut your building’s energy consumption.

What is a Building Energy Management System?

A Building Energy Management System is a computer-based system designed to help to monitor, control, measure, and optimize energy consumption needs of a building.

Also referred to as BEMS, the system connects the various systems of a building such as HVAC, lighting and plant room equipment, to form one central platform for buildings energy consumption management.

A building energy monitoring system can be implemented both in residential and commercial properties.

Building energy management systems offers monitoring, metering, as well as sub-metering, functions which help collect energy data, giving property managers and owners a comprehensive insight on building’s energy usage.

BEMS is a part of the more extensive building management system which monitors and controls the mechanical and electrical equipment of a building such as lighting, ventilation, fire systems, power systems, and security systems.

If you effectively install a building energy management system, you can become significantly more energy efficient.

Ways of Managing Energy Consumption

There are three different ways of managing energy consumption in your building, including:

  • Energy conservation

This means minimizing your building’s energy use by eliminating energy wastage. This can help you avoid a high electric bill. It can be done either through the economy or other more rational use. These are some of the most common, proven energy conservation methods.

  • Energy recovery

Through reusing of energy byproduct from one system as input energy in another system, reduces total consumption.

An example of this is using waste heat from a manufacturing process to heat your building’s water.

  • Energy substitution

In this process, you replace your usual source of energy with a more economical and less polluting one. To cut the high energy consumptions by buildings, as well as reduce carbon emissions, various vendors have been advocating for the use of a new generation EMS (energy management system).

The system combines the building management systems with advanced software solutions which are more efficient in managing the functions of the building.

How a Building Energy Management System Works

Most building management systems operate by integrating with the already existing components and systems in the building. BEMS are easy to implement and are cost-effective as they require less purchase of new devices to make the system operational.

BEMS usually connects with two main categories of systems in your building.

  • Existing Infrastructure

The existing building infrastructure will consist of all the operational physical systems and sensors. In many properties, these systems include heating and cooling, elevators, fire systems, security systems, and more.

By connecting to the existing systems, the building energy management systems will be able to monitor the amount of energy consumed, as well as the fluctuations in energy consumption over time

  •  Current Building Software

The second existing components that BEMS connects with is the building software. BMS (building management systems) and BAS (building automation systems) are the two standard software that BEMS will connect with.

While BMS is used to help manage various aspects of building from a central application, BAS, on the other hand, helps automate building management and processes.

The building energy management software will connect to one of the existing systems or both. Through the integration, BEMS can collect and analyze data from all systems, offering a more comprehensive and precise insight on energy use.

An ideal building energy monitoring system, also adds extra external information, including weather data, electrical grid data, and utility billing.

The systems collect data from your building’s previous and current sources to ensure you make more informed decisions.

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Components of a Building Energy Management System

A standard BEMS should at least have the following elements.

  • A minimum of one principal operator position also called a central station)
  • A connection of the central station to various remote outstations (or controllers). The remote outstations are free to operate independently, and you can also control it from the central station. The said connection is usually offered through the internet. Also, the critical operator position uses an interface it has with the outstations to control multiple functions in the outstations.

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Why Building Energy Management Systems?

Due to the continued rise in the cost of energy, the operating costs for buildings with a high demand for electricity also keeps rising. Reducing such operational costs is fundamental for most buildings, especially with various energy-saving policies like ESOS becoming mandatory.

Monitoring and managing the use of energy allows for efficient service as well as optimum power utilization. As a result, there will be better site performance and asset management.

The main objectives of building energy management systems include:

  • To provide a pleasant and healthy indoor climate
  • To guarantee the safety owner as well as the user of the building
  •  Ensuring the economic functioning of the building not only in terms of energy but also personnel

As we can see, BEMS is useful in monitoring and control of multiple factors inside a building or a cluster of buildings. Lighting, HVAC, domestic hot water, energy consumption, electrical supply and distribution, and vertical transportations like elevators, are examples of issues that BEMS controls.

The system helps to identify power issues, highlight areas where desired saving of energy can be applied, and improve the overall energy efficiency.

Building management system, when integrated a BEMS, eliminates all sources of energy wastage and reduces high operating costs.

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Must have Capabilities of Building Energy Management Systems

There are numerous types of building energy management solutions available in the market. However, an ideal BEMS must have the capability to:

  • Collect information from all open energy source, including old, new, standalone, or integrated
  • Recognize problems, as well as trends through analyzing multi-variable and single-variable data
  • Provide alerts when the energy consumption of your building surpasses the set parameters
  • Integrate with the control systems to enable automation of responses as well as input data
  • Provide early warnings regarding any failures in mechanical or electrical systems
  • Recognize energy wastage and recommend solutions which allow for more natural payback.
  • Allow you to benchmark the energy you use in your building compared to other structures found in similar climates.

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Features of a Building Energy Management System

These are some of the core features of a building energy management system.

1. Advanced building analytics

With this feature, the BEMS can analyze your building’s energy performance using in-depth data, as well as real-time data. The feature also helps the system to detect and fix performance issues automatically.

2.  Advanced metering infrastructure analysis

Through this feature, the system can collect Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) data from a utility on specific time intervals. Using this process, you can get a correct understanding of the energy consumption needs and patterns of your building.

3. Automated demand response

AutoDR is a feature that automatically helps decrease the use of energy during peak load processes. It does this by automating the controls of various components and systems of your building.

This will help you conduct peak shaving.

4. Automated building control

The computerized building control feature allows for ongoing interaction between the energy management system and the multiple systems and devices in your building.

Through this, the BEMS ensures efficient data collection, as well as improved energy usage.

5. Primary energy information portal

This can refer to either a standalone portal or a website that shows the primary energy consumption data of your building. The portal can also offer suggestions and tips in regards to energy saving.

BEMS is a clear indication of how innovation can help save energy. You can use a smart meter like Fronius to manage your electricity in a more efficient manner.

6. Retrofit programs

Through retrofit programs, you are required to replace some of the energy consuming gadgets from your building with ones which are more energy efficient.

A simple example is the replacing of light bulbs with new, more energy efficient models.

Upgrading of HVAC is another excellent example.

7. Energy consumption benchmarking

With this feature, you can compare the historical energy consumption of your building with the current energy consumption.

This will help you understand better the ongoing performance of your structure.

8. Building optimization

The feature allows the BEMS to relate with the other systems in the building, to enable the optimization of their performance in real time.

9. Demand response

The feature allows your system to effectively respond to the changing factors, including high energy costs and resource capacity needs of the system.

10. Measurement and verification

These features ensure that you get your desired results from your energy efficiency measures and system improvements.

In essence, the features help in identifying the ROI on your system

Benefits of Building Energy Management System

These are some benefits of a building energy management system that you should consider.

  • Reduces energy consumption
  • Reduce operational costs
  • Uses the information collected to make informed decisions regarding energy activities
  • Facilitates to be ESOS compliant
  • Helps to reduce carbon emissions
  • Enhances building efficiency
  • Early detection of power issues
  • Recognizes system maintenance problems early

Factors to Consider Before Installing a BEMS

Different buildings have different energy consumption needs. Therefore, some buildings will require building energy management systems with more functions than others. You must, therefore, understand the needs of your building before you can install the BEMS.

Here are some factors you should consider to help you determine the best energy management systems.

  • The Size of the Building

The size of a building will most definitely influence the kind of energy management system to install. A sizeable sophisticated building will have more energy consumption needs than a small and less class building.

Based on the size, you will require a BEMS with some particular features to be able to manage and control the various energy needs of the house. It helps you know what to look for.

For example, if you have a small-sized building, you need a system with a primary energy data portal, offers information based on incentive availability, offers historical billing analysis, and more.

For a medium-sized building, you require a system that offers monitoring, NOC availability, retro or continuous commissioning, and AMI data analysis, among others.

Large buildings will, in most cases, demand for advanced and predictive analytics, demand response, building optimization, automated building control, and more.

  • The Location of the Building

Different regions experience varying weather conditions, and this will influence the energy needs of a building. Extreme climates require a system that will tackle the energy consumption changes related to change in temperatures.

  • The Number of Buildings

Multiple buildings require a system that can collect, analyze, and compare data coming from numerous sites.

By having multiple sites, you can compare the effectiveness of a BEMS or detect what BEMS are working better than others.

  • The Use of the Building

For example, a building with offices may require a system with more features than a warehouse. Maintaining the comfort of the occupants is essential and will determine the type of BEMS.

Conclusion on Building Energy Management Systems

Whether it’s a small, medium, or a big building, one or multiple buildings, building energy management systems are essential to help optimize energy consumption. I hope that this article has given you all that you need to know before installing that energy system in your building.

What thoughts do you have about BEMS? Share with us in the comment section below.

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