By Manish Kumar
Building owners and operators face many challenges today, from cybersecurity threats impacting older building management systems (BMS), to the effects of the energy waste and CO2 emissions that they create. On top of this, facility management teams are now responsible for keeping energy and operational costs down, supporting sustainability goals, and improving the occupant experience.
With these mounting challenges, old building management systems simply don’t cut it anymore. While many can still get away with using outdated systems, waiting for current software and hardware to become obsolete leaves buildings open to inefficiencies, poor reliability, and vulnerable to cyber threats. How can modernized BMS future-proof buildings and help facility teams succeed against today’s mounting challenges?
Take The First Steps In Modernization
Fortunately, modernizing a BMS does not have to involve a complex capital expenditures project. In most cases, a much less expensive technology refresh can be performed at the software layer, leaving existing devices in place and instead working to upgrade network-level servers and controllers.
These modernization efforts should start with the creation of a plan that includes mapping out critical details around budget, operational needs, and future expansion plans. Before the end of its lifecycle, when its current software and hardware could become obsolete, the BMS software and network can be upgraded. Then, the older hardware can start to be replaced as budget and schedule allow. When making these plans, it’s essential to keep several essential attributes in mind about the technology and user experience.
Focus On The Right Technological Attributes
Modern building management technology must be open, scalable, smart, and cyber-secure. Open and scalable BMS technology allows smooth integration with other systems within the building and makes it easy to add more meters, sensors, and controllers as needed. Smart technology helps to deliver state-of-the-art data modeling and analytics that help to reduce energy and inefficiency, as well as proactively flag potential problems as they arise. This data should also be remote and mobile accessible so that facility teams can still provide key support even when building access is limited.
That remote accessibility, while key during the pandemic, has also led to more potential vulnerabilities to cyberattacks. A cyber-secure BMS is secure by design, with development and operation following strict cybersecurity standards and best practices. IEC 62443 offers a series of robust standards that provide a systematic approach to cybersecurity that was developed to secure industrial automation and control systems throughout their lifecycle.
Keep User Experience At The Forefront
While making these modernizations, improving the occupant experience should remain a key priority. A technologically advanced BMS can adjust the internal environment according to people flow, occupancy numbers, and air quality readings. Besides increasing occupant comfort, a modern BMS should also engage users by offering apps and services that meet occupant needs, such as being able to quickly book a room, log a maintenance ticket, or control room comfort to personal preferences.
Forward-thinking leaders are making sure they’re deploying the right digital technologies today to future-proof their buildings for tomorrow. The future is energy-efficient, occupant-centric, and smart. Upgrade efforts don’t have to cost a fortune; instead, buildings can be refreshed and future-ready with the right key investments in technology by facility managers and building owners today.
Manish Kumar is a Senior Vice-President of the Building Management line of business at Schneider Electric. Manish brings a unique blend of strategy, technology & international experience to his role with over 10 years of transformational leadership in Corporate Strategy, Buildings and Solar business at Schneider Electric. Manish holds advanced degrees from HEC, INSEAD, and Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology.