“A Building Energy Management System (BEMS) is an integrated system of software, hardware and services that controls energy use through information and communication technology,” according to The Energy Collective. “Used primarily in commercial buildings, BEMS technology works by monitoring, automating, and controlling building systems such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, thermostats, and lighting to increase building energy efficiency and improve comfort.”
These systems have been around for many years in commercial construction. In the past, they were managed through the overall HVAC controls system, which monitors various data points such as air and water temperatures at different locations within a building. Over the years, they have integrated more and more with other building systems, and can now even control the exterior facade of a building, causing window coverings and glass tinting to change as needed.
The next generation of BEMS are communicating directly with utility companies to let building owners know when power rates and demand are lowest, allowing the proper scheduling of high power use activities to help lower costs.
BEMS for the Home
Building energy management has begun to move into the home. Remote control home energy management systems are becoming very popular. They offer integration with the HVAC, lighting, and security systems. Some allow users to view their residences remotely through cameras to get a real-time look at what is happening. Most can be accessed through the internet or an application on a mobile device.
A quick search on Google retrieves an impressive array of options at many price points. Some appear to be glorified programmable thermostats, while others offer direct communication with utility companies for real-time cost updates. Some systems can be integrated with the home’s lighting system, allowing for more control.
As the graphic above illustrates, there are many pieces to a complete energy management system. It is important that building and home owners carefully select the proper technologies and equipment to suit their needs and the building or home use. Otherwise, money could be wasted on unnecessary purchases.
Pros and Cons of BEMS
|Increased energy efficiency||Higher initial costs for design and installation|
|Improved environmental conditions||Operation and maintenance costs might be higher compared to simpler management systems. However, the BEMS is also capable of reducing overall costs through improved energy efficiency and more efficient use of staff|
|More efficient use of staff||Need for a skilled operator|
|Improved fire, security and other emergency procedures||Requires commitment at all levels throughout its operational life to maintain maximum effectiveness|
|Improved standards of plant/building functioning|
|Improved management of the building|
Sources: The Energy Collective, ClimateTechWiki
Images: Google Shopping