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Utilising Your BMS System

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Greg Kemp

Greg Kemp, Divisional Director for FM, discussess best practice for utilising your Building Management System.

Most buildings now have a Building Management System (BMS) installed and in general the head end computer invariably sits in the corner of an office or down in the basement with the engineering operation and maintenance team.

Consequently, how much thought and attention have you or your maintenance team actually given to your BMS lately?

In a time of cost cutting and energy efficiency drives, your BMS is the “brain” of your installed engineering systems and, if it is configured and functioning correctly, by paying attention to what it is telling you, you can make some significant efficiency improvements and therefore savings.

Building, facilities managers and occupiers, by ensuring proactive maintenance and using the full functionality of their BMS can relatively simply and with little or no cost, improve a buildings’ operational and environmental efficiency. For example, you are no doubt aware that your BMS:   

  • Controls your plant operation time scheduling,
  • Controls all the environmental set points for plant and the areas within your building
  • Might also control your internal, external and car park lighting
  • Can provide critical and general alarms, which are configurable to suit your operational needs.

However, when were these parameters last checked to ensure they meet current building and occupation requirements?

BMS_5Have you reconfigured the alarms since the system was installed? Have you used the “trend-logging” functions to assist in identifying potential problems? Buildings are constantly evolving due to changing occupancy and business, which results in a need to review the system at the very least once per year.

You may not be aware that some of the older building management systems might be configured to control in a very energy-inefficient way. For example, a speculative office building built in 2000 and operating in accordance with its designed control routines: on early morning plant start up, the system was heating the outside air before supplying it to the space. Sounds sensible? Not when the cooling system then cut in to reduce the supply air temperature back down to suit the occupants as the working day commenced. A fairly simple and low cost revision to the control strategy meant that free cooling (or heating) could be used to cut out the wasteful cycle of heating and re-cooling the outside air. Imagine the potential energy savings.

It is clear to see that in so many buildings, tens of thousands of pounds worth of equipment is failing to deliver the overall 15-20% energy savings that a well specified, installed, maintained and operated BMS should be delivering.

The BMS check is just one of the components of a more in-depth analysis that can be undertaken as part of an energy and statutory compliance-focussed audit. This checks maintenance and operation as well as physical plant and systems and is a detailed process that can uncover any hidden issues affecting a buildings’ operational and energy efficiency.

BMS_3Once initial operational efficiencies have been identified and improved, a follow up quarterly or six-monthly check of your engineering maintenance contractors’ activities will ensure that standards are maintained. The additional benefit of this audit is the added comfort that you have visibility of whether your Statutory obligations are being fulfilled. Often undertaken by an external firm that brings a fresh and totally independent pair of eyes, the audit provides a method of post-occupancy evaluation that can improve a building's performance, highlighting quick wins and making it sustainable over the long term.

So, if you haven’t already, take an interest in and take the opportunity to check your BMS head end and unlock up to 20% of energy and associated cost savings.

To find out more about Greg Kemp, click here.

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