7NOX Blog

The Pros and Cons of Building Automation Systems

man with angel and devil on shoulder

Written by 7NOX Team

May 8, 2023

Building automation systems (BAS) or “smart buildings”, are increasingly popular in commercial and industrial buildings. Why? Because they improve energy efficiency and reduce costs by integrating and automated systems such as lighting, HVAC, and security. While these systems of systems are often associated with larger commercial or industrial facilities, advances in technology are lowering price points enough for smaller building owners to access the benefits. But before you invest, consider the pros and cons of a building automation system.

What is an Building Automation System?

Building automation systems use a combination of sensors, controls, and algorithms to monitor and manage building systems. These systems can be integrated with a building’s existing infrastructure, such as HVAC and lighting systems, to create a centralized control system that can adjust and optimize building operations in real time. For example, a BAS can automatically adjust the temperature and ventilation in a building based on occupancy levels and outside weather conditions or turn off lights in unoccupied areas to reduce energy waste.

rooftop air handling unit

Building Automation System Pros

Automated building systems have the potential to significantly improve energy efficiency, reduce costs, and improve building comfort and productivity.

Greater Energy Efficiency

AS can use occupancy sensors and time schedules to control lighting and HVAC systems, ensuring that they are only running when needed and at optimal levels. By reducing energy usage during periods of low occupancy, such as nights and weekends, a BAS can help to significantly reduce energy costs.

Better Occupant Experiences

By optimizing building systems for comfort, such as temperature and lighting, BAS can help to create a more comfortable and productive work environment. This can lead to improved employee satisfaction, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity.

Reduce Maintenance Repair and Costs

By continuously monitoring and optimizing building systems, a BAS can identify and diagnose issues before they become major problems, allowing for timely maintenance and repairs. This can help to extend the lifespan of building systems, reduce repair costs, and minimize downtime.

Real-time Analytics

One key feature of a BAS is its ability to provide real-time monitoring and data analytics. By collecting and analyzing data from building systems, such as energy usage and occupancy levels, a BAS can help building owners and managers identify areas of inefficiency and opportunities for improvement. This can help to inform future decisions around building upgrades, retrofits, and maintenance, allowing building owners and managers to optimize their operations and save money over the long term.

Energy Regulation Compliance

With energy codes and regulations becoming increasingly stringent, it is becoming more important for building owners and managers to optimize their energy usage and reduce waste. By implementing a BAS, building owners and managers can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency, and potentially qualify for tax credits and other incentives.

medium-sized office building

Building Automation System Cons

Despite the many benefits of automated building systems, there are some potential drawbacks to consider.

Upfront Costs

Building owners may need to invest a significant amount of money to purchase and install the necessary hardware and software to create a fully integrated BAS. This cost can be a barrier for some building owners, particularly for smaller facilities with limited budgets.

Complex Installation

Building owners may need to work with a team of engineers and technicians to design, install, and configure the system, which can be time-consuming and require specialized expertise.

Technical Issues

While BAS systems are designed to be reliable, there is always a risk of technical issues and system failures. These issues can cause downtime and disrupt building operations, which can be costly and frustrating for building owners and occupants.

Staff Training

Adopting a BAS may require building owners to train their staff on how to use the new system. This can be time-consuming and may require additional resources to ensure that staff members are properly trained and understand how to use the system.

Security Concerns

As with any technology, there are potential security concerns with adopting a BAS. Building owners need to ensure that the system is properly secured and protected against cyber threats, as a security breach could have serious consequences for building operations and occupant safety.

While there are pros and cons to adopting an automated building system, building owners and managers should also consider the effects their decisions have on broader issues like climate change. Buildings make up an enormous amount of the world’s energy use and green house gas emissions. Reducing emissions takes collective action. Lower your building’s carbon footprint is doing your part.