The Role Of BMS In Carbon Savings

Can Building Control Systems help deliver one million tonnes of carbon saving?

The EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive has placed a massive emphasis on the role of Building Automation and Control Systems (BACS) to achieve our carbon reduction goals for 2030 and beyond. This post discusses the critical functions a BACS must have if we are to realise those energy and carbon saving goals.

The Target

The most recent Government announcements on emissions reduction targets has re-emphasised the building sector’s crucial role in achieving Ireland’s and the EU's energy and environmental goals. Commercial and public buildings will carry a substantial burden of responsibility, based on 2018 figures, this sector must deliver a 45% reduction in carbon by 2030. Which equates to a cut of approximately one million tonnes of carbon per year.

The Tactics

By 2025 all Public buildings, new and existing, with a Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning system of capacity greater than 290kW must have a compliant BACS.

A compliant BACS will have the following functionality:

  • Energy Monitoring - Capable of continuous monitoring, logging and analysing of energy consumption data.
  • Efficiency Analysis - Capable of benchmarking the building's efficiency performance and providing information when operational efficiency is below target levels and where improvements can be gained.
  • Fault Detection - Capable of fault detection and diagnostics across equipment and systems.
  • Integrated Communications and Efficient Operation - Ensure that all data across the building systems is fully integrated so that efficient demand based operation can be achieved.

A compliant BACS will provide:

  • Better control of energy consuming equipment and systems, meaning the building is more efficient as well as more comfortable for occupants.
  • It will be possible to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency.
  • It will support more effective maintenance.

Public bodies must firstly assess if their building falls within the 290kW threshold and secondly, if a BACS is installed, determine if it complies with the standard.

It is likely that incentives will be used to encourage a similar approach in the commercial building sector.

The Probability of Success

The problem here is that we can’t afford to fail. BACS can and must deliver carbon savings, however, the functionality required to achieve compliance, and most importantly efficiency, is very rarely if ever delivered in any commercial or public buildings! Which casts doubt on technical feasibility.

On top of that, the Building Controls Industry is already struggling with a shortage of skills and expertise. A further ramping of demand on the supply of these finite skills could put financial feasibility into question also.

For these goals to have any reasonable chance of success the definition of BACS will have to be broadened beyond the concept of a discrete control system within a building to include an analytics layer in the cloud. The focus at site level should be to deliver a robust and fully integrated system that can provide reliable data. The additional features like efficiency analysis, energy monitoring and fault detection can then be delivered much more efficiently in the cloud.

OPNBuildings is a cloud based building analytics platform that can do exactly this!