edie explains: Building Management Systems (BMS)

A recent edie survey found that 56% of energy managers are focusing on Building Management Systems (BMS) this year - a 9% surge. With this in mind, we've taken a closer look at BMS (and BEMS) to find out what all the fuss is about.

What is a BMS?

A Building Management System (BMS) is a computer-based system that controls and monitors a building’s mechanical and electrical equipment such as heating, ventilation, lighting, and power systems.

In a house for example, these functions are controlled by switches and timers, but in offices and factories, a Building Management System (BMS) can automate and take control of these operations in the most efficient way possible.

What is the difference between a BMS and Building Energy Management System (BEMS)?

The two acronyms are ofte used to describe the same thing. However, BMS covers a broader range of building services including fire and security systems, whereas BEMS only refers to energy-related systems.

How does a BMS work?

Smart sensors around the building gather data and send it to the BMS, where it is stored in a database. If a sensor reports data that falls outside pre-defined conditions, the BMS will trigger an alarm.

In a data center, for example, the BMS might trigger an alarm when the temperature in a server rack exceeds acceptable limits.

Occupancy times for different areas are also programmed into the BMS, so that heating and lighting can be adjusted accordingly.

One example of savings is the reduction of ‘dry cycling’ – where a boiler fires instead of using residual heat in the system.

BMS include boiler optimiser controls to ensure that the boiler is demand driven and only operates when required, and only at the temperature required to satisfy demand, cutting up to 30% of a heating bill.

How can a BMS help my business? 

A BMS can be an important tool in your energy-saving arsenal. A BMS can ensure that your building is always comfortable for staff and that HVAC, lights and equipment are switched off when not needed. It also generates reports so you can easily measure changes over time.

The best systems can reduce overrall consumption by up to 25%. British Gas estimates that the payback period for a company that spends £20,000 a year on energy is around 10 years.

Who else has got one?

Media giant Sky installed a BMS and biomass boilers at its Scottish sites, cutting gas consumption by 70% in a year. Barclays bank also claims its BMS contributed to a 5% drop in emissions in 2013.

BUPA, Heathrow Airport and the Ministry of Defence are among the other notable UK company’s with a BMS.

Brad Allen

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