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.
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
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.
BACnet (Building Automation and Control Networks) is a high-order protocol for building automation. It was developed in 1995, in conjunction with ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers). The aim was to create a manufacturer-independent communication protocol for intelligent components and systems in building automation. The protocol has been documented in ISO 16484 Part 5 since 2003.
BACnet allows automation stations from various manufacturers to exchange information with each other without incurring any licence costs for special data transfer hardware. BACnet is therefore used if several different manufacturers need to be linked in a network via a protocol.
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
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.
he software applications on GEZE Cockpit are browser-based, so that information can be accessed with any device with an IP – be it a PC, tablet or smartphone.
The basic version can be integrated into a higher-ranking building management system to operate GEZE products. The Cockpit VISU and VISU+ applications turn it into an independent building automation system.
IO 420 interface module
Data exchange between GEZE Cockpit and the integrated doors and windows is via the IO 420 interface module. BACnet assures the interoperability. © GEZE GmbH
Smooth and interdisciplinary action
The BACnet open communication protocol facilitates smooth and interdisciplinary action. It offers plug & play components allowing you to quickly connect devices and products. This helps with the system interactions, guarantees quick integration into the communication system and assures the flexibility needed, even in case of short term changes in planning.
GEZE helps with maintenance, support and training
With GEZE Cockpit, operators of a building can save a great deal of money and increase the safety of the building at the same time, in itself and for users of it. The staff benefit too: GEZE Cockpit is easy and convenient to use: the status of doors, windows, smoke and heat extraction, and emergency exit systems can be easily controlled and securely monitored from anywhere and at any time, from any IP capable device.