Building Management

Use the Right Software to Get Comfortable

As noted in the previous post in this series, a building energy management system, a BEMS, can increase productivity and comfort. That’s not surprising if you think about it because the two are linked.

The most obvious way is through heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC, systems and the resulting impact on room temperature. More comfortable workers, like those in rooms at the ideal temperature of about 72o F (22o C), are more productive. An analysis by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory put the drop-off in performance at nearly 9% if the temperature were moved to 86o F (30o C). But productivity also falls off if the temperature is too low.

There isn’t, however, a single “best” temperature that’s always the right choice. For one thing, there are seasonal variations to consider. Thus, recommendations are to run a bit hotter in summer and somewhat cooler in winter to accommodate differences in dress.

That aspect of comfort is something BEMS software has traditionally been able to handle. The Navigant Research Leaderboard Report: Building Energy Management Systems states a BEMS directs “automated and/or manual improvements to system operations.” HVAC is one of those systems, as is the lighting. With the right software, then, your BEMS can cut heating and cooling costs by a tenth or more, keep rooms illuminated for less by shutting off unnecessary lights, and make sure there are enough air exchanges per hour for different spaces to prevent the air from going stale.

Still more capable software can help in such goals as making the most of demand pricing. That requires the BEMS talk to utility systems, the better to take advantage of time-of-day dependent energy costs. A connection to the outside world can also help in meeting weather-related challenges, which is easier to do if the software can gather and react to weather info.

Navigant BEMS ReportBut if that’s all your BEMS software does, you’re missing out on an important additional aspect, that of occupational comfort and control. By that I mean all the systems needed to get work done. People in modern offices need wireless connectivity, office networks, laptops/tablets/smartphones and a host of supporting IT infrastructure that may be in the cloud, on site, or a mix. Often there may also be some type of access token or other cybersecurity recommended practice, like two-factor authentication.

Ensuring all of that works requires more capable BEMS software. It must be able to understand and connect to various office systems, for one thing. For another, it should be able to relate that back to such aspects as occupancy. Say a new employee is starting, which means that he or she may need an office or work space as well as access to office systems. A BEMS could be an important part in making sure that happens at the right time by monitoring a location to see when it is occupied or when an account becomes active.

That’s something that should be evaluated when considering at a BEMS. For an example, look at our SmartStruxure for large and critical buildings as well as our SmartStruxure Lite for small and medium buildings. You’ll see how the right software can make for both physical and operational comfort.

In my next post, I’ll look at how a BEMS can connect the HVAC and the electrical together and what the benefits can be. That will be posted in a couple of weeks.


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