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Buildings and Cities

Building Automation

Energy courses through buildings—in heating and air-conditioning systems, electrical wiring, water heating, lighting, information and communications systems, security and access systems, fire alarms, elevators, appliances, and indirectly through plumbing. Most large commercial buildings have some form of centralized, computer-based building management, used to monitor, evaluate, and control those systems. Adopting automated rather than manual building management systems can reduce energy consumption by 10 to 20 percent.

A building automation system (BAS) is a building’s brain. Equipped with sensors, BAS buildings are constantly scanning and rebalancing for greatest efficiency and effectiveness. Lights switch off when no one’s around, for example, and windows vent to improve air quality and temperature. New buildings can be equipped with BAS from the start; older ones can be retrofitted to incorporate it and reap its benefits.

Beyond energy savings and reduced operations and maintenance costs, BAS benefits the well-being and productivity of people inside the building. Improved thermal and lighting comfort and indoor air quality directly impact occupant satisfaction. BAS is especially useful to ensure and maintain efficiency in green buildings, so that their ratings on paper match their actual performance.

References

automated systems…[lower] energy consumption: IEA. Transition to Sustainable Buildings: Strategies and Opportunities to 2050. Paris: International Energy Agency, 2013; Siemens. Building Automation—Impact on Energy Efficiency. Zug, Switzerland: Siemens, 2009.

indoor air quality…increases in productivity: WGBC. Health, Wellbeing, and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building. London: World Green Building Council, 2014.

buildings…energy use and…emissions: Lucon, O., D. Ürge-Vorsatz, A. Zain Ahmed, H. Akbari, P. Bertoldi, L. F. Cabeza, N. Eyre et al. “Buildings.” In Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

“neural networks”: Lux Research. Sensors and Controls for BEMS: Providing the Neural Network to Net-Zero Energy. Boston: Lux Research, 2012.

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