“Open” BMS is Essential to Smart Buildings

gray and white high rise smart building 1

Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by Josh Mahan

As society and businesses increase the need for building owners and managers to enhance the efficiency, sustainability, productivity, and tenant experience of their structures, the function of Building Management Systems (BMS) is growing beyond its traditional role in building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).

The term “open” is frequently used to describe the desired capabilities of a BMS and is considered crucial in creating a smart building. However, the lack of a standard definition often leads to confusion and uncertainty in its usage by building owners and operators, as well as vendors.

Criteria for Assessing Openness

Criteria for Assessing Openness Every building is unique, and openness is a complex topic. The framework we propose outlines three distinct layers, each with its own criteria for assessing openness. These three layers are Interoperability, Engineering Complexity, and Who Performs the Work.

Interoperability evaluates a system’s ability to interact with other parts of the system or other systems. Engineering Complexity assesses the difficulty in achieving interoperability, including the required customization and programming.

Who Performs the Work determines if specialized skills and individuals are needed to achieve the objectives. There may be trade-offs among these criteria, and having a framework to discuss a BMS’s level of openness brings these important factors into consideration.

Layer 1

Data Acquisition and Sharing Data acquisition and sharing is the foundation of BMSs. To be considered open, a BMS must be capable of exchanging data with sensors and actuators, as well as other building controllers, using open protocols such as BACnet and LonWorks.

The system should also support the extension of native protocols and not require experts for day-to-day operations.

Layer 2

System Integration As the scope of BMS expands beyond HVAC control, it must integrate with other systems in the building, such as lighting systems. This requires the BMS to consume, push, and query data from other systems and potentially tie in with analytics services.

APIs, semantic tagging, and authentication mechanisms are important considerations during system integration. A system that supports non-obscure authentication types and allows custom development of middleware minimizes the time and complexity of integrating systems.

Layer 3

Coordinating Building Management Managing a building encompasses synchronizing all of its systems. This can be viewed as a larger-scale version of Layer 2. The goal is to create a smart building where everything is interconnected, leading to improved energy efficiency, comfort for occupants, and increased productivity. This is achieved by streamlining and automating building tasks.

The integrations often go both ways, so they may include intricate objects and data structures, such as time schedules. This can cause semantic discrepancies between systems, requiring custom rules and workflows to bridge the gaps. A more open building management system would have tools to handle these customizations.

Scroll to Top