A Building Automation System (BAS) has lulled many into a false sense of security. A commercial building controlled by a BAS could lay claim to being a “Smart Building.” All problems solved, right? Not so fast.
A BAS provides critical functionality to today’s commercial buildings. The current trends in data, analytics and optimization have led to greater levels of dissatisfaction with the current state of technology in buildings. Why else would PropTech become a thing? For those willing to admit it, their current BAS underwhelms and even disappoints.
The low state of enthusiasm reflects the inherent problem that building owners and operators have just begun to recognize. Reality has set in because the state-of-the-art technology embedded in their buildings suffers critically from obsolescence.
I hear your internal retort, “How could my BAS be obsolete!? My building isn’t even a year old!”
Most consider obsolescence conventionally, from the limited perspective of aging equipment. This type of technological obsolescence carries the least amount of risk and pales in comparison to the larger issue facing the Commercial Real Estate (CRE) market today. Certainly, one can budget and plan for technological obsolescence (at least in theory). Functional obsolescence, on the other hand, presents difficult options for decision makers.
Business Threats Posed by Functional Obsolescence
What is functional obsolescence? Simply stated, functional obsolescence occurs whenever the BAS cannot provide needed or desired functionality.
Requirements change. It is a sign of the times.
The BAS commissioned in a building results from a design process that specifies the requirements of the centralized, control system. These specified requirements define how the BAS will monitor and control a building’s facility systems (e.g., mechanical, electrical, lighting, plumbing, HVAC, and water supply systems). Once commissioned properly and turned over to the building owner, the BAS functions as originally designed. Therein lies the problem, because change happens.
Modification of an existing BAS requires major capital investment. The pain points are all too clear. How much does it cost just to roll a truck for BAS consultation? Do you really want to know the cost to augment the sensor infrastructure, or to upgrade the BAS software prior to the addition of new hardware? These and other common BAS upgrade scenarios produce real dilemmas and difficult choices.
Honest experiences by those on the ground reveal the following admissions of BAS problems due to functional obsolescence.
1. My BAS Does Not Collect Real-Time Utility Sub-Metering Data
Building owners and operators need more than the monthly utility bill because the quest for energy efficiency rages on. Buildings saddled with a functionally-obsolete BAS were not designed to go beyond the main utility meter.
Sub-metering has arisen as the new standard for building sustainability. Common asset-management initiatives recognize the need for sub-metering data...in real-time! If a BAS could be re-designed from the ground up, then building owners and operators would want real-time sub-metering data to track utility costs by floor, tenant, individual facility equipment (e.g., HVAC, lighting), etc. Granular utility sub-metering data provides the essential tools to monitor energy costs and performance, to identify consumption anomalies, to perform cost allocations between tenants, and to enable data-driven portfolio analysis.
The value of real-time utility sub-metering data is unquestioned. The exorbitant cost of upgrading a BAS to support real-time utility sub-metering causes many to pause their sub-metering initiative. This need not be.
The Internet of Things (IoT) provides the means for inexpensive retrofits that can capture real-time sub-metering data wirelessly, at a fraction of the cost of a BAS upgrade. Thus, installation of new wiring to reach remote sub-metering points would not be needed. IoT rescues your building from an obsolete BAS.