BMS: Improving Efficiency While Leaving No Building Behind

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For building owners and end users, efficiency comes in many forms. One is energy efficiency through the use of a BMS, a building management system. With a BMS, significant savings are possible through intelligent control of HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) equipment and lighting.

An eight hour thermostat setback of a few degrees in unoccupied areas of a building can cut energy consumption in those locations several percent. Those savings end up on the bottom line.

Even greater efficiencies, though, are possible with the next step: a BEMS, a building energy management system. These IT-based systems provide control, visualization and analytics, according to Navigant Research. Such enterprise efficiency-boosting systems get the right information to the right person at the right time so that the right decision can be made, such as reacting to dynamic price signals or taking actions to improve operational expenditures.

By tying, for instance, the entire building together with the enterprise, Schneider Electric’s SmartStruxure enables efficiency from the top down to the room level. That results in higher building performance to a variety of desired measures, with two possibilities being lowering energy costs or hitting sustainability targets. Those in smaller buildings have the SmartStruxure Lite solution.

For building owners and end users, achieving this next level of efficiency presents challenges. For instance, Navigant analysts estimated in 2013 that less than a third of all building stock has the necessary critical mass of digital control infrastructure in place. So, an upgrade may be necessary. This could involve, for example, the addition of wireless or other hardware or the deployment of a web-based interface.

Like a BMS, a building energy management system can pay for itself quickly by cutting energy consumption, as can be seen b running the numbers through the cash flow opportunity, financial value, and building upgrade value calculators available at the joint EPA-DOE site. However, the payoff can be even faster if the solution is designed to lower its total installation cost.

The vast majority of the building stock in North America, Europe and the rest of the developed world is not new. Instead, it is often decades old. Many of these existing buildings may already have some sort of BMS installed, which means that there has been investment in hardware and software. Some of these purchases may have been made years ago and thus fully depreciated.

In the case of Schneider Electric, this landscape translates into many end users and building owners who have invested over the years in a BMS solution. With this in mind, the new SmartStruxure solution has been designed to interact with older systems so that information can be integrated and analyzed alongside new data. Because of this, a customer’s existing investment is protected and the expansion into other areas can be conducted cost effectively. Protecting and leveraging the legacy investment will lower the cost of taking that next step up in efficiency.

Because Schneider Electric designed their solutions to work with existing, installed assets, many customers can add substantially more functionality with just a small additional investment. Making that investment makes available a new platform that features four pillars. The first enables simple, easy to use integration, while the second allows predictive and proactive service. The third delivers data when needed, and the fourth, an efficiency hub, connects the whole building.

With this approach enterprise efficiency can be improved – without leaving any existing or to-be-built building behind.

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