A Day in the Life of a Building Automation System

I was recently interviewed on a local AM Radio Show, hosted by Tech Angel Pam Viveiros from ThinkTech Computers to discuss technology in the field of HVAC. I listened to the recording of the broadcast – I had to, because I was so nervous I didn’t remember what I’d said – and couldn’t help but think that there’s just soooo much I didn’t cover, specifically in the area of Building Automation.

In the radio show, I compared Building Automation to the awesome

Rosie the Robot - The Jetsons
Stand aside Jetsons! Building Automation has come a long way since the 60’s.

automation seen on The Jetsons, the 1960’s animated sitcom with robots and automated everything. That level of automation is now a reality for many commercial buildings – though on a more practical scale. Building Automation Systems (BAS) can be used to program and controls everything from HVAC, lighting, security, process equipment and more. And it all comes in a user-friendly interface that can be accessed from your on-site computer or by logging in remotely with a secure internet connection.

Now why would you want a “Jetsons” automation system in your building? Rather than list the capabilities of a Building Automation System, I thought I’d give a little day in the life peek into some of the things it can do for you. Wish I could animate it like the Jetsons opening sequence. Maybe next time…

6:00 a.m. It’s a typical early fall morning. Birds are chirping, sun is shining and the BAS system has the rooftop economizer fully open, letting the 62°F air cool off and freshen up the building before the first employee arrives. No need to fire up the cooling condensers yet. Save your energy for later. It is New England after all, and you never know what temperature you’re going to get.

6:30 a.m. Mary arrives, swipes her security card at the front entrance, BAS system recognizes her as an authorized user and as it allows her through the turnstile, automatically turns on the lights in her office on the second floor.

7:00 a.m. Mary is still chatting with Anne at the water cooler. BAS hasn’t sensed any movement in Mary’s office in the last half hour, so the lights switch off to conserve energy.

11:30 a.m. The sun is still shining, but it’s a wacko New England Fall day where the temperature climbs to 80°F in just a few hours – not to mention the crazy humidity that came out of nowhere. But no need to worry, the BAS system has already detected the rise in humidity and backed down that economizer so you’re not cooling the hot wet air from outside, but recycling the already cooler drier inside air.

2:00 p.m. That lunch meeting in 3rd fl conference room has gone long, there’s lots of hot air to trigger those CO2 sensors to increase the fresh air to the room and cool down the hot tempers in those tight collars.

3:00 p.m. Meeting has finally ended (thank goodness) and everyone’s back in their offices. As soon as the coffee cups are cleared away, BAS turns off the lights, cooling and fresh air.

5:30 p.m.  Normally the building would be in night setback starting at 5:00, but BAS can sense the Anne is still hard at work (catching up after that long meeting and the earlier water cooler chat with Mary) and keeps things cool for her. It’s cool again outside, so BAS switches back to free cooling from outside air.

6:30 p.m. It’s Fall in New England, so it’s already getting dark. Anne’s not worried though because the BAS System has already turned the parking lot lights on. Anne leaves for the night and BAS closes up the systems behind her and the building can go into sleep mode for the night, saving bunches of energy in setback mode.

The brilliance of BAS is that without thinking about it, you only use the energy you need – no more, no less. And you get the benefit of full comfort, temperature, humidity and fresh air at the same time. For less money, you receive much better comfort than you had before, because you’re measuring more inputs and making better control decisions with the information. So though the BAS system can’t bring you breakfast like the Jetsons, it can make you completely comfortable while you’re eating it and save you hundreds, even thousands on your energy bill. Stand aside Jetsons!