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Understanding Building Management Systems

Written By: Jesse Shaver

Last Updated: 03/13/2024

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In today’s rapidly evolving world, energy efficiency has become a significant concern for businesses and organizations. As the need for sustainable practices and reduced energy consumption grows, building management systems (BMS) have emerged as essential tools for optimizing energy usage and enhancing operational efficiency.

And they’re not just for the eco-minded. BMS should interest financially savvy property managers, too. According to some studies, when used properly, BMS can reduce energy costs by up to 30%, and even though initial costs are high, due to energy savings and preventative maintenance, investment in a BMS can be recouped in just 3 – 8 years.

Below we’ll explore the three main types of building management systems, their respective functions, and how they contribute to energy-efficient buildings.

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Energy Management Systems

Energy management systems (EMS) are designed to monitor, control, and optimize energy usage within a building. By integrating various components, including sensors, meters, and controllers, EMS collects and analyzes data to identify energy consumption patterns and optimize energy performance. Key functions of EMS include:

Real-Time Monitoring

EMS provides real-time data on energy consumption, enabling facility managers to identify energy-intensive areas and implement corrective measures promptly.

Demand Response

By leveraging EMS, businesses can participate in demand response programs. These programs allow organizations to reduce energy consumption during peak demand periods or in response to grid reliability issues, resulting in cost savings and reduced strain on the electrical grid.

Data Analysis and Reporting

EMS collects and analyzes energy data, generating comprehensive reports on energy usage patterns, trends, and potential areas for improvement. These insights help businesses make informed decisions to optimize energy efficiency further.

Remote Control and Automation

EMS enables remote control and automation of building systems, such as lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and equipment, allowing for efficient scheduling and optimization of energy usage.

Building Automation Systems

Building automation systems (BAS) aim to streamline and centralize the control of various building systems, such as lighting, HVAC, security, and access control. BAS integrates these subsystems into a unified platform, providing centralized management, monitoring, and optimization capabilities. Key functions of BAS include:

Energy Optimization

BAS enables integrating and coordinating different building systems, optimizing their operation to minimize energy consumption while maintaining occupant comfort and safety. For example, BAS can adjust HVAC settings based on occupancy patterns or natural lighting conditions, reducing energy waste.

Occupancy Control

BAS can detect and respond to occupancy levels, automatically adjusting lighting, HVAC, and other systems accordingly. This feature ensures that energy is not wasted in unoccupied areas, contributing to substantial energy savings.

Fault Detection and Diagnostics

BAS continuously monitors the performance of building systems, quickly identifying faults, inefficiencies, or malfunctions. By promptly addressing these issues, energy waste can be minimized, and the overall system reliability can be improved.

Integration and Scalability

BAS allows for integrating additional building systems and components, facilitating future expansion, and providing a scalable solution to meet evolving energy management needs.

Facility Management Systems

Facility management systems (FMS) focus on optimizing the overall operational efficiency of a building, encompassing a broader scope than just energy management. FMS consolidates data and streamlines processes related to maintenance, asset management, space utilization, and more. Key functions of FMS include:

Preventative Maintenance

FMS schedules and tracks routine maintenance tasks, ensuring that building systems operate at their peak efficiency. This proactive approach helps prevent costly breakdowns, reduces energy waste, and extends the lifespan of equipment.

Space Utilization

FMS provides insights into space occupancy and utilization, enabling businesses to optimize space allocation, reduce energy consumption in underutilized areas, and make informed decisions regarding expansions or reconfigurations.

Asset Management

FMS tracks and manages equipment and assets, including their performance, maintenance history, and lifecycle. By optimizing asset utilization and ensuring timely maintenance, energy efficiency can be improved while reducing unnecessary costs.

Streamlined Operations

FMS integrates and streamlines various operational processes, such as work orders, inventory management, and vendor coordination. By automating these tasks and centralizing information, businesses can improve efficiency, reduce energy waste, and allocate resources more effectively.

How Different BMS Types Drive Energy Efficiency

Building management systems play a pivotal role in promoting energy efficiency within buildings. While alluded to in their various functions above, here’s a rundown of how each type of BMS contributes to this important goal:

Energy Management Systems

EMS enables businesses to monitor, analyze, and optimize energy consumption. By providing real-time data and insights, EMS helps identify energy-intensive areas, detect anomalies, and implement energy-saving measures promptly. This results in reduced energy waste and enhanced efficiency.

Building Automation Systems

BAS integrates and controls various building systems, ensuring coordinated operations and optimizing energy usage. By adjusting settings based on occupancy levels, time schedules, and environmental conditions, BAS minimizes energy waste while maintaining comfort and safety. This proactive approach significantly contributes to energy efficiency.

Facility Management Systems

FMS enhances overall operational efficiency, which directly impacts energy consumption. Through preventive maintenance, space utilization optimization, and streamlined operations, FMS helps businesses reduce energy waste, improve equipment performance, and extend the lifespan of assets. This holistic approach fosters long-term energy efficiency within buildings.

Toward a Smarter, More Sustainable Future

BMS are powerful tools that empower businesses to optimize energy usage and achieve energy-efficient buildings. By integrating advanced technologies, such as sensors, controllers, and centralized platforms, BMS offers real-time monitoring, control, and automation of various building systems.

In a world where energy efficiency is increasingly important, businesses implementing robust building management systems can benefit from reduced energy costs, improved sustainability practices, and enhanced operational efficiency. By leveraging the power of BMS, organizations can contribute to a greener future while reaping the rewards of energy-efficient buildings.

If you're looking for the most affordable way to hit your business's sustainability goals, another powerful tool is the energy marketplace on Whether you're seeking to power a small business or a larger commercial enterprise, can connect you to an Energy Advisor who can help you find the best rates for your needs among a variety of renewable energy plan options.