Upgrading building infrastructure using integrated software: Smart features for better building management

As the world becomes more connected, smart buildings are becoming more commonplace. Everything from security to utilities can now be integrated into a single interface, for improved efficiency and energy saving. This technology can be implemented in existing infrastructure to manage risks in a range of different buildings —it can even be used to improve security and infection control measures in the wake of the global pandemic. Here, Stefan Reuther at automation software supplier, COPA-DATA, explains how digitizing smart building features can optimize efficiency and help to manage and harden buildings.

Traditional building management solutions (BMS) allow users to monitor and control lights, heating, blinds, and air conditioning systems, but they do have limitations. They do not consider the amount of people present in a building, the flow of visitors, and often do not include access control systems. Modern building management should consider the challenges that may be faced in security, sustainability, and adaptability. New, integrated technologies can make full use of both internal and external building data to provide effective and efficient solutions to meet changing requirements.

Intelligent security systems

As with all projects using connected technology, security is a key consideration for building management. Ensuring both the protection of assets and data and the safety of workers and visitors within the property should be prioritized, and smart building features can enable this.

Electronic access systems are a secure and effective way to manage all individual access components in a network, distributing individual rights and roles across systems to allow each user access to the areas, information, and operating authorizations required for their work. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access and records the data of all accesses to allow monitoring across all systems.

Digitization of physical access systems such as turnstiles and doors can also give superior control of visitor flows within a building and enable accurate tracking of how many people enter and leave the building for reduced crowding and improved monitoring.

Building security is key in protecting assets and people, but the COVID-19 pandemic has raised additional questions about infection control measures and how this can be better managed. The need for social distancing, COVID-19 prevention, and limits on people present inside buildings can all be managed through better building technologies.

Connectivity for efficiency

Another advantage of smart buildings is greater control over energy use. As public awareness of climate change grows, it is increasingly important that businesses strive to implement sustainable practices and demonstrate environmental awareness.

Smart buildings have the potential to conserve energy and resources. zenon, for instance, is much more than a classic BMS, but also acts as an energy data management system (EDMS) in accordance with ISO 50001. zenon’s aggregated data helps to transparently determine energy consumption and displays it in correlation with other relevant data such as production figures. Along with providing insight on energy consumption, this can be used to help establish Energy Performance Indicators (EnPi) and to determine and improve overall energy efficiency.

As e-vehicles increase in popularity, building managers should also consider providing e-charging facilities. A smart building can include a smart loading infrastructure to monitor and record consumption and usage for this. It may also be possible to use smart building features to track energy consumption of individual vehicles to gain insights for efficient fleet management.

Using digitization, building operators to actively monitor and influence energy consumption informed by this data. An effective EDMS can be the foundation of a fully automated operation, using accessible real-time data to offer not only environmental benefits, but financial savings too.

Integrated management solutions

Using an integrated platform to update and optimize building infrastructure offers a scalable and flexible alternative to traditional building management systems. Building automation presents a unique solution to challenges in security, control, efficiency and process optimization that can improve and harden building infrastructure across a range of industries.

zenon is an integrated software platform for digitization and automation, which can provide greater insight than a traditional BMS. As an integrated platform, the software provides an interdisciplinary approach to building management gives a more holistic view of many more factors and can be used to improve security, energy efficiency and offer long-term financial savings.

The platform can seamlessly collect, evaluate and analyze data and distribute reports to improve performance and processes. This information can be used to update, streamline, and harden building infrastructure. For instance, when integrated with external data such as weather forecasts, the building could automatically adjust the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to suit the current temperature. Moreover, combining this with data on the number of people in the building can ensure a stable ambient temperature — regardless of how busy a room has become.

It may be easier to implement smart features in a new building from the point of construction, but it is also possible for older buildings to benefit from these management systems. Though some additional hardware may be required, buildings with an existing BMS can be connected to zenon and used alongside third party systems to use available data and information, making it an accessible solution for many operations.

COPA-DATA’s zenon automation software can help to digitize buildings, achieve sustainability goals and synergistically create secure and connected smart buildings to effectively meet modern requirements.