The future is in the mid-market

BMS, BEMS, Schneider Electric
To appeal to the user, the BMS needs to deliver an easy way to control space for comfort and efficiency, with a single interface for lighting, HVAC, alarm systems and energy management.

Building management systems (BMS) have traditionally been viewed as only viable in large buildings and estates — but Schneider Electric believes that in the current environment, it is the mid-market that represents a whole new untapped potential for energy management. Steve Harris describes how a small BMS could provide the perfect way forward.

New-build developments are at an all-time low in the UK, and many current projects involve retrofitting or expansion. Coupled with the fact that many business premises are sitting empty due to the economic climate, it could be seen to be a bleak outlook all round with little scope for the building-management system.

If you accept that BMS is generally seen as something that only falls within the province of buildings and complexes, this may be the case. However, there is a whole new untapped market for energy management — albeit with different needs and requirements. In fact, IMS Research has recently predicted that while historically bigger buildings have been the cornerstone of the intelligent-building market, 2013 could mark the turning point for intelligent solutions in small to medium-sized buildings.

To date, much of the emphasis in terms of Government initiatives for energy reduction has focused on large-scale energy users. the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme, for example, is aimed at large public and private-sector organisations. However, that must change. The 2018 minimum energy standards for landlords, for example, mean that it will be unlawful to rent out premises with an energy efficiency rating lower than E. It is also worth considering the commercial appeal of an energy-efficient building with lower running costs, which will be a much more marketable proposition in an environment where there is an acute over-supply of commercial property.

Lighting, heating and HVAC contribute up to 70% of energy usage in commercial buildings, and a properly utilised BMS can provide savings of up to 30% in energy costs. So, as the market for buildings with manageable energy increases, a small BMS could become the perfect solution for anyone with smaller commercial premises who needs to monitor energy usage.

To appeal to the user, the BMS will need to deliver an easy way to control space for comfort and efficiency, with a single interface for lighting, HVAC, alarm systems and energy management — preferably with easy access from a mobile device. To meet this demand, the engineer needs an out-of-the-box solution that requires minimum engineering to reduce risk and complexity — and increase profitability — with no significant training time plus the facility for remote servicing.

For any enterprise to gain a truly holistic view of the energy usage of their premises, the findings from each of the different systems need to be collated and directed to a central point to enable users to make informed decisions that will lead to reduced energy usage. Traditionally, this level of integration has come at a premium cost, meaning that only larger enterprises have adopted this level of technology to fully integrate their building’s systems.

Bigger buildings have traditionally been the cornerstone of the intelligent-building market, but have we reached a turning point for intelligent solutions in small to medium-sized buildings.

Now, however, the latest wireless BMSs can give control back to people in the building, with individuals managing small areas with room controllers for better levels of comfort, while the whole building is managed via a centralised, remotely monitored system. This is where the rise of cloud computing, improvements in mobile devices and increasingly sophisticated interfaces can really make a difference to what can be achieved.

To embrace this potential, Schneider Electric has recently launched SmartStruxure solution together with, for small-to-medium enterprises, SmartStruxure Lite solution. This solution can integrate customised hardware, software, engineering, installation and services to ensure that facilities are energy efficient and effectively managed — taking full advantage of that potential 30% saving.

The significance of such solutions is that they break down traditional information silos and deliver integrated building information and real-time data via web access, powerful graphics and trend visualisations, rich reports and mobile applications so that building managers can ensure their facilities are running at maximum efficiency.

The SmartStruxure solution for larger buildings is powered by the StruxureWare software suite, which provides integrated monitoring, control and management of HVAC, energy and lighting systems. It manages critical systems on one network, so eliminates multiple systems and their associated hardware, software, training and maintenance costs. The system immediately responds to any event outside of its defined optimum range; responses include controlling equipment, emailing alarms or displaying proper procedures to bring the facility back into peak performance.

With an affordable plug-and-play solution that offers a sophisticated level of functionality supported by cloud-based technology, SmartStruxure Lite solution brings the concept of the intelligent building to the small to mid-market, a previously untapped one for energy management.

Steve Harris is UK sales and marketing director of Schneider Electric’s building division.

For more information on SmartStruxure solution, SmartStruxure Lite solution and StruxureWare, visit the link below.

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