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Building automation - intelligently networking building operation

All commercial buildings are now built with automatic building controls. Heat, light, air conditioning, technology for cooling and shade, and door and window technology are networked and communicate with each other. The components can be simply and centrally controlled via intelligent building management systems.

Objectives: energy efficiency, comfort and safety

It is not only cars that will drive themselves in the future: buildings are also becoming increasingly automated. They automatically regulate heating, ventilation and air conditioning themselves. They switch lighting to right level depending on the external brightness and whether there are people present in the room. They raise or lower blinds, and open and close windows and doors. And they do all this while responding precisely to users’ or residents’ needs as they pass through the building. When they leave the building, energy consumption is automatically reduced to a minimum, accesses are locked and the alarm system is activated.

This type of automation technology is now installed in all new public buildings and commercial properties. Older, existing properties are also optimised. The key phrase is definitely building automation. Automation means any action not performed by a human that affects a device or system. Building automation (BA) refers to the sum of equipment used for automatic control, regulation, monitoring and optimisation in buildings.

This means that all the sensors, actuators, operating elements, consumers and other technical units in the building are networked. Building automation then automatically performs specific functional processes as part of the building technology, in accordance with the prescribed settings. Technical building equipment, which can often be complex, is therefore efficiently and centrally managed. The goal is to make building operations more energy-efficient, economical and safer, and to offer maximum comfort to users and residents.

Automation pyramid

The three levels of building automation.

The three levels of building automation.

GEZE GmbH

The field level involves the design of all functions and measurement and reporting of data. This data comes from sensors (for example temperature sensors, air quality sensors, luminosity sensors, movement detectors, window contacts, wind speed sensors, rainfall sensors) and actuators (servomotors for valves and flaps, switch and dimming equipment for the lighting, drives for sun shades, windows and doors) and other buttons and switches.

The application level concerns the collation and evaluation of information. Switch and positioning commands are sent back to field level. They can also be transferred to all of the other levels in the command level, however.

The management level monitors the system and optimises its mode of operation using special software, i.e. a building management system. The software visualises and saves information and data.

To transfer information from the sensors or positioning commands to actuators, the devices need to be linked in a shared network.

EU Regulation on the overall energy efficiency of buildings

The EU regulation on the overall energy efficiency of buildings is the driver behind building automation. After all, 40 per cent of total energy consumption within the EU is within the building sector. According to the EU regulation, the overall energy performance of all buildings needs to be improved. This is primarily dependent on the thermal envelope and the nature of the technical building equipment. The facilities can also be further improved by installation of an automation system.

A study at the Biberach University of Applied Sciences (“Ensuring energy efficiency via building automation with respect to DIN V 18599 and DIN EN 15232”) examined how much energy the individual functions in building automation can save. Among the study results, it was found that automated lighting in combination with a light-directing external blind produced a savings potential of around 40 per cent. If investment costs and savings are compared, the result is an average amortisation time of two to ten years for building automation systems.

In summary, the study identified that building automation could make a big contribution to the energy efficiency of a building. It has therefore been scientifically confirmed that normal user behaviour often leads to unnecessarily high energy consumption.

Automation as an ‘ideal’ user

‘Ideal’ users would need to turn the heating off when they air rooms, and then close windows as quickly as possibly again. Additionally, they would turn lights on only if the room is being used, and then use only the number of lights needed. In unused rooms, and usually at night or on public holidays, they would noticeably decrease the air temperature in offices.

Since these types of ideal users are very rare – indeed non-ideal users forget about open windows and leave them open overnight - this gap can be significantly closed with the help of building automation. Smart Buildings therefore behave in a more energy-efficient way than people.

Smart Building and Smart Home

A Smart Home helps to save costs. Professional initial installation in a two bedroom home costs between 800 and 4,000 euro - with a potential energy saving of around 20 per cent.

Smart home technologies are a growing market.

GEZE GmbH

Smart Building Systems are not only used in office and industry buildings, hotels or hospitals, however. There is also growing interest in automation technology for homes. ‘Smart Homes’ are those where the power supply and consumption controls are networked with household devices and lighting.

Home networks with entertainment electronics, monitoring and safety systems, blinds, window and door closer systems can also be connected. These functions can be adapted to the individual needs of users and therefore ensure increased comfort. They also help to save costs and to save on resources.

There are more than 180 GEZE door solutions in the new headquarters of the Stuttgart IT company Vector. They are networked into the BACnet building management system using IO 420 interface modules.

The entrance doors of the Vector company headquarters in Stuttgart

Jürgen Pollak / GEZE GmbH

Intelligent building control in the new Vector company headquarters

GEZE network solutions with BACnet are creating significant advantages in planning and operation:

  • customised digital networking solutions with BACnet
  • central control of more than 180 doors in the building management system – even greater comfort and safety in normal operation, and in the event of danger
  • interdisciplinary functionality and interaction – visible any time and from anywhere
  • Energy efficiency: interaction between door technology and climate control
  • Support in the construction phase: Communication between product group experts

Go to the GEZE Vector IT campus case study

GEZE Cockpit Building automation system

Description of the various components of the GEZE Cockpit building automation system

GEZE GmbH

GEZE Cockpit is the first building automation system for smart door, window and safety technology. The GEZE Cockpit building automation system allows automated system components from the sectors of door, window and safety technology from GEZE and other manufacturers to be networked, controlled centrally and monitored with precision. BACnet, the most widespread communication standard in building automation, enables interoperability. GEZE Cockpit can be used as an independent building management system, or be integrated into a higher-ranking building automation system.

The hardware components of the building control system comprise an embedded system, on which three different GEZE software packages with different performance functionalities can be installed. The data exchange between GEZE Cockpit and the products is via the IO 420 interface module on the BACnet open communication protocol . Whether you use a PC, tablet, or smartphone: the applications for GEZE Cockpit are browser-based and can therefore be operated on every IP-capable device.

Go to the GEZE Cockpit building automation system

Go to the GEZE Cockpit brochure (3.14 MB)