Why MEP Engineers / Building Owners Prefer Building Automation Systems

Feb 5, 2016 2:38:02 PM

How your building can benefit from automation systems

Building automation systems (BAS) are centralized, interlinked networks of hardware and software that control and/or monitor a building’s HVAC systems, indoor and outdoor lighting, security, fire alarms, and any number of other mechanical, electrical, or plumbing (MEP) features in the building. These systems are used to control and monitor the environment in a number of facilities, ranging from commercial, to industrial, to municipal, to residential.

Automation systems maintain a building’s optimal operational performance levels and ensure the comfort and safety of building occupants. MEP consulting engineers can design effective control systems that can help you monitor your building’s performance and reduce energy consumption. The BAS is also helpful for commissioning or retro-commissioning service activities. 

A BAS can compile data to help facility managers determine where to increase efficiency, cut costs, and boost the comfort level in their buildings. A BAS is also an important component of green building design. It can lead to overall energy savings of 5-30% for businesses by managing HVAC and lighting systems, ensure proper ventilation for building occupants, and reduce a building’s environmental impact by helping to eliminate excess waste and the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

How does a BAS work?

A BAS is made up of hardware devices that monitor data and other performance indicators from your building’s equipment that are connected to controllers distributed throughout the building to control environmental equipment and systems. Many systems are typically hardwired today, but can also be accomplished wirelessly.

Systems can offer some level of personalized control through of individual local temperatures and lighting control features. A BAS will deliver accrued information to a central workstation or website that allows operators to adjust building processes for periods of high or low usage.

Let’s go over a few areas where building automation systems can be incorporated into your building, and look at the benefits that each approach represents.

HVAC systems

Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, along with components like chillers and boilers, are commonly controlled through building automation systems. Automation allows these systems to operate more intelligently and efficiently, providing increased comfort to occupants, prolonged life for HVAC equipment, and lower overall costs.

Studies have shown that HVAC automation systems can save 15% on utility and energy costs. These systems also boost indoor air quality, leading to a healthier indoor environment, fewer employee sick days and increased productivity.


In our blog post, “Architectural lighting design for occupants, indoor environment,” we spoke about how daylighting and other design techniques combined can improve the environment inside a building, boost the mood of occupants, and reduce energy costs for the building owner. Utilizing sensors and technology, and automating these systems to respond accordingly to environmental and occupancy changes, can enhance all the aforementioned benefits of architectural lighting design.

Automated systems that utilize daylight and occupancy sensors can turn lights on or off depending on the time of day or amount of light present, and can turn lights on and off when occupants enter and leave rooms. These systems can reduce energy costs and usage while still providing necessary and comfortable levels of lighting—all without any actions from occupants. HVAC system operations can also be integrated to allow additional energy saving control strategies.

Security and alarms

Automated security and alarm systems can quickly alert building owners, maintenance crews, and/or proper authorities of hazardous or costly situations by delivering warnings via computer, mobile technology, phone calls, audible alarms, or other notification systems.

These systems can notify stakeholders of serious and urgent situations like fires or break-ins, as well as other harmful situations like carbon monoxide leaks. Alarm systems can also alert building owners and maintenance workers to situations where equipment may not be functioning properly, which will lead to quicker repairs, increased lifespans for the equipment involved, and reduced long-term costs.

An automated alarm system can also send out notifications when sensors monitoring temperature identify issues with space, supply air, and hot water and chilled water supply, thus potentially preventing any HVAC problems from functioning properly. Pressure, humidity, and critical gas detection sensors can also send out warnings if they detect mechanical failures in ventilation systems or the presence of contaminants that affect human health.

Custom BAS design for your building

With a number of experienced MEP engineers, Peter Basso Associates can design customized automation systems that will ensure your building is operating at its highest levels and that your occupants are enjoying the comfort and safety that they deserve.

The commissioning process can help verify that all automated systems and processes are functioning properly in your facility. Get your free copy of our Building Commissioning Playbook to see how learn more about the benefits of commissioning your building.

Building Commissioning Download


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