What is Building Automation?

The phrase “building automation” refers to an intelligent network of programmable controllers and software that monitors and controls mechanical heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. It can also control indoor and outdoor lighting in a building. Simply put, building automation means that equipment is installed that makes your building run more efficiently, usually resulting in decreased costs. This is also sometimes called an “energy management system”.

The main reason most of our Orange County and Los Angeles clients choose to install an energy management system is because it will reduce their overall energy costs, as well as overall maintenance costs. The most typical HVAC systems that are automated include central plants, air handling units, package units and fan coils. Lighting sensors and systems can also be programmed to only turn on when someone is in a specific part of the building, during specific hours of operation, or in a number of other customizable cases. Metering systems (including electrical meters, gas meters and BTU meters) can also be managed using similar methods.

The two main components of building automation systems include the user interface (the software the facility manager uses to manage to buildings environments), and the controller. The controller is a physical device that monitors and changes the operations of a specific system and is usually installed by an integrator who knows how to program the system to perform optimally.

For example, an HVAC system in a mid-size to large commercial building can be equipped with a controller for sensing air temperature (output variable) which can turn on or off a heater when the air temperature becomes too high or too low. These controllers come in a wide range of sizes and varying functionalities that control several devices in a building.

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