Last edited 06 Oct 2016

Building management systems BMS

Building services are systems installed in buildings to make them comfortable, functional, efficient and safe. They can be controlled by simple mechanisms such as manual switching, clocks or detectors such as thermostats or motion detectors, or they can be controlled by more complex building management systems (BMS).

Building management systems are computer-based systems used to monitor and control building services such as:

They may also be used to monitor and control power distribution, energy consumption and uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) and may be referred to as building energy management systems (BEMS).

NB The phrase Building Energy Management Systems is sometimes used interchangeably with Building Management Systems (BMS), however, strictly speaking, Building Management Systems can be used to monitor and control a wide range of building systems whereas Building Energy Management Systems relate specifically to energy-related systems such as HVAC, lighting and power systems.

Building management systems help building managers understand how buildings are operating and allow them to control and adjust systems to optimise their performance. As well as collating data and allowing ease of control, BMS can help; visualise data, automatically generate reports and create alarms and alerts when parameters are exceeded, failures occur, or with prognostic systems, when failures are likely to occur. They can also allow comparison between spaces, buildings and benchmark data.

Intelligent building management systems bring together information and controls relating to a number of different systems operating using a range of different software applications and allow them to be controlled form single interface. This makes monitoring and analysis more straightforward and comprehensive and allows information from one system to influence the controls for another.

The effectiveness of BMS will depend on the range and quality of the information it receives from sensors and the programming of how this information is used. For example, information about external and internal conditions can be used to determine the level of heating required so that plant can be activated and a building pre-heated before occupants arrive.

Historically, BMS has been associated with large commercial buildings, however as equipment has become easier to control, monitoring and detection has become less expensive, and wireless technology has become available, buildings of all sizes are having increasingly complex control systems installed. This can for example allow home owners to connect to their home and switch on devices such as lights and heating before they arrive. See internet of things and smart buildings for more information.

BMS can help:

  • Give better control of systems and conditions.
  • Data gathering and report generation.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Allow better informed response to complaints.
  • Allow allocation of operating costs within a business or to tenants.
  • Allow more targeted use of resources for replacement and maintenance of equipment.
  • Early detection of issues.
  • Reduced operating costs and carbon emissions.
  • Improved equipment life.
  • Improve safety.

Building management systems may now be integrated with building information models (BIM) to allow performance in use to be compared with design criteria and design simulations. This can help identify potential problems in operation or design and can help validate modelling techniques. Building information models might also include information about the operation and maintenance of building components.

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