IT-Driven Building Automation Solutions Gaining Momentum, Market Share

Compared to traditional BAS systems, intelligent building alternatives can harness wireless, edge (sensor), and cloud-based data analytics capabilities.

By Daniel Talero

The building automation solution (BAS) market is undergoing large structural change. While this building automation technology is increasingly adopted throughout the global building stock, large BAS providers contend with IT-driven innovation promoted by a new, fast-growing set of intelligent building competitors. This trend creates a more complex market with varying degrees of intelligent building penetration. In this dynamic environment, efficiency and cost outcomes for building owners depend on more optimized functionality. This opens an expanded set of implementation challenges and opportunities for BAS vendors, which vary across regions and verticals.

building automation
Photo: Getty Images

IT Enablement Increases Customer Expectations

The IT-driven shift is visible in customer expectations and system capabilities. Energy use savings are now largely a baseline customer expectation, alongside diagnostic equipment monitoring and maintenance. While traditional BAS systems are historically proprietary with high transaction and capital costs, intelligent building alternatives can harness new wireless, edge (sensor), and cloud-based data analytics capabilities to deliver greater interoperability, optimization, and capital cost savings.

For example, where a traditional BAS may have networked a lighting and HVAC system, an intelligent building solution could be designed to optimize these systems beyond energy and comfort. Such a solution could also provide business-relevant insights around space use, comfort, and even occupant satisfaction. Intelligent building solutions deliver results by using diverse data streams, such as weather and time of use rate data from utilities.

For owners of large portfolios with traditional BAS in their facilities, leveraging intelligent building solutions can give them enterprise-wide optimization and savings. This can occur through subsystem retrofits and new construction with higher level intelligent automation and control design specifications. When retrofitting, intelligent building offerings can complement the complex BAS of large building customers, giving more flexible and cost-effective options to achieve added insight and functionality. Intelligent building offerings are also well-suited for smaller, less complex buildings, thereby creating more insight across the building stock. Many buildings have a mixture of traditional building automation and intelligent building capabilities, the differences of which are outlined in the Table below.

building automationMarket Opportunities Open To Vendors Of All Sizes

The intelligent building closely merges operational and information technologies. As the market continues to evolve, customers will have more options that span the range of intelligent building functionalities mentioned in the table above. Opportunities abound for vendors in this emerging space, from startups to traditional BAS providers to technology innovators from adjacent markets.

Intelligent building integrations across retail chains can be especially effective. As an example, the Source, Canada’s largest retail music chain, faced increasing utility rates and energy spend throughout its 400+ stores. GridPoint provided an edge sensor- and cloud-based BAS package with a single point of control to monitor and manage energy-consuming assets throughout the chain, including HVAC and lighting systems. Pre-defined and pre-scheduled store temperatures based on customer and staff data ensured a consistently comfortable environment, freeing store managers from that task. Analytics also monitored historical HVAC performance, issuing predictive maintenance notifications that prevented outages and reduced repair costs. With no downtime during installation, the Source saw ROI in less than 1 month, and an 18% energy cost reduction within 3 months, in a 50-store pilot. The granular data collection, advanced analytics, and intelligent controls enable continuously improving energy savings, facility efficiency, and capital planning.

Large BAS manufacturers are also integrating greater intelligence into their new offerings with better connectivity, openness, and analytics. Honeywell Forge for Buildings has been integrated in Hamdan Bin Mohammed University (HBMU) in Dubai, which needed an add-on system that could be interoperable with legacy third-party systems and avoid large upfront CAPEX. HBMU piloted a closed-loop solution evaluating HVAC internal setpoints at 15-minute intervals to determine peak capacity. Analyzing data points such as time of day, weather, and occupancy levels, the solution makes automatic, calculated adjustments up to 96 times in each 24-hour period to reduce energy consumption. Automating adjustments based on this real-time data, HBMU experienced a 10% reduction of energy consumption across its campus, all achieved without manual intervention and no downtime.

Intelligent Buildings Capabilities And COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to consumer demand irregularities, supply chain disruptions, and greater number of people working from home. Intelligent building capabilities can help businesses meet such crisis-level challenges through advanced optimization, control, and predictive response.

Retail and grocery stores, for example, are responding to crisis-level consumer patterns that cause supply shortages and other disruptions. Intelligent buildings capabilities such as customer wayfinding and asset tracking can influence emergency response protocols and shape predictive supply analytics to minimize operational problems. Data analytics also can influence inventory layout and customer journeys to minimize potential virus transmission. Predictive supply analytics improve social media notifications to customers, as well as the effectiveness of online fulfillment as a relief strategy when stores cannot meet surging demand.

Long-term trends favor intelligent building adoption in many verticals, despite crisis impacts. While the crisis will refocus investment in the short-term, the operational benefits of intelligent buildings and generally lower CAPEX required creates a compelling option for building owners seeking a cost-effective and resilient approach. For additional insight on this market transition, reference the recent Guidehouse Insights report, Building Automation Solutions for Commercial Buildings.

building automationTalero is a research analyst with Guidehouse Insights, a market intelligence and advisory firm covering the global energy transformation with a focus on emerging resilient infrastructure systems. Talero focuses on market analysis for the lighting sector in commercial and residential buildings, including emerging markets for lighting controls, connected and smart lighting, and Internet of Things applications. Prior to joining Guidehouse Insights, Talero was a research analyst at E9 Energy Insight, where he was responsible for market and policy research informing PUC grid modernization efforts and natural gas investment. He has also worked as a researcher with the Colorado Hospital Association, focusing on aligning culturally competent care with disaster planning throughout the state, and as a youth apprenticeship program researcher and coordinator for Denver Public Schools.

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