Queens College Building OpEnergy efficiency refers to the energy required to achieve a given usable effect (Energy efficiency in building automation and control, Siemens, 2010). Taking technical measures can achieve greater energy efficiency, meaning the energy required for the same use can be reduced to a fraction of the amount. One accepted way to obtain energy efficient operation of buildings is careful engineering and implementation of building automation and control systems (Energy efficiency in building automation and control, Siemens, 2010). However, it is primarily the task of building automation and control systems to determine whether energy is applied efficiently in the building or facility. Facility and building operators will need to be aware of energy efficient ways that they can implement in their facilities.

Building technology

When considering energy efficient building operations one also has to consider the fact that energy efficiency includes taking advantage of unused portions of energy conversion, which can include using additional heat, water, and energy recovery. Use of energy efficient functions in building, such as automation and control systems, has enormous potential when considering that approximately 40% of primary energy consumption worldwide goes into buildings (Energy efficiency in building automation and control, Siemens, 2010). Out of that energy, 85% is used towards room heating, hot water, and room cooling (Energy efficiency in building automation and control, Siemens, 2010). Minimizing the use of energy that isn’t needed can certainly improve a facility’s operational budget and is good for our environment.

Service uses, and benefits of automation systems

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As a rule, a building’s automation and control system is needed to achieve optimum interaction of all systems that a building or a facility can use. There are a number of benefits that can apply to operate buildings and facilities in an energy-efficient manner. Higher energy efficiency, lower operating and maintenance costs, better indoor air quality, and greater occupant comfort and productivity are just some of the benefits associated with the efficient use of automated building systems (Building Sustainability through Building Automation, KMC Controls, 2011).

Regarding higher energy efficiency, an automation system that is implemented can save substantially since it can optimize HVAC efficiency by resetting setpoints of boilers accordingly, optimizing start/stop times, using economizers for free cooling and maintaining ventilation at the most efficient flow rates (Building Sustainability through Building Automation, KMC Controls, 2011).

When considering building and facility operation, an interoperable control system can offer training related synergies and can in turn, reduce labour costs. Interoperability can be defined as two devices that can both work together in order to operate as intended, typically facilitated by an ability to share a commonly defined set of information (Poplawski, M. 2014, November 13, Control System Interoperability, U.S. Department of Energy). An interoperable system also means that building operators and facility technicians can learn one front end or operator workstation while managing the interoperating systems. Facility operators will also need to maintain a log of information and trends that will provide additional information and potential improvement opportunities that may be considered in the future (Poplawski, M. 2014, November 13, Control System Interoperability, U.S. Department of Energy).

Air quality inside a facility is simultaneous with greater occupant comfort inside. Automated systems can be used to monitor temperature, humidity, air ventilation and presence of pollutants. Building operators will also be needed to monitor the automated operating systems so that they can improve energy efficiency and will give them an opportunity to monitor user behaviour. In turn, they can maintain conditions within their facilities and buildings at a specific level that satisfies most of the users or tenants of the facility (Building automation – impact on energy efficiency, Siemens). As a result, this energy efficient use of automated systems will save substantial amounts of operating expenses and create a sustainable facility.

Building automation systems lead to gains

Every building is unique and energy consumption within all buildings varies and fluctuates. Building automation and control functions should be selected based on their impact on a building’s efficiency. In a sustainable environment, conscious energy usage, control and monitoring of systems are of utmost importance. Managed efficiently and properly by well-trained operators, building automation systems can save operators and building owners thousands of dollars, minimize energy losses, improve occupant comfort and facility staff productivity.