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Frequently Asked Questions About Building Management Systems.

Can we use a different Vendor for Service and Maintenance

Typically, yes. Each Site and System need to be evaluated upon it’s own merits, but, typically there is always a way to change vendors with out spending a fortune on new hardware.Who can answer the building management system faqs
Open protocols such as Bacnet, LonWorks and Niagara were designed with the open market in mind, ensuring multiple vendors can maintain, repair and offer replacement parts of for a BMCS system.

Can we up grade a bit at a time?

Usually, the trap here is taking too long and the equipment vendor upgrades firmware and/or software. They should be backward compatible but the equipment already installed on your site, say, twelve months ago, is not forward compatible. This means, as an owner, there might be additional time involved. Yes you can do it in bit and pieces, but beware there will likely be additional indirect costs involved. The lines of warranty can also become a blurred.

Can we use our BMS to serve for our BIM or Building Information Modeling?

Essentially Yes, the detail in this answer is subject to the depth of the BIM management you want to go to. The BMS can deliver information or trend logging data information that is useful for your BIM. Keep in mind, to gather more information for the BIM you will need more sensors to include into your BMS so the BIM so you can use the data effectively. For example,

  • Carbon dioxide sensors in return air and in tenant floors,
  • light sensors
  • occupancy sensors
  • People and/or traffic counters
  • Additional temperature and Humidity Sensors
  • Energy meters serving specific zones
  • Water meters sering specific resource, such as domestic hot water
  • VOC sensors
  • interface into security Systems
  • High Level Interface into main Plant equipment such as Chillers
  • and others, this just limited to your imagination

The BIM management can be developed in lie with various software platforms

electrician testing switchboard equipment with a multi-meter


which can interface or serve the BMS. The first decision on the part of the owner or occupier/tenant is decide what BIM information is useful to your business, then we can work with you to see what we can automate and trend log into your BMS.

Bacnet or LonWorks – Which is the Best?

The answer depends upon whom you talk to and if they are speaking from an engineering point of view, or programming, or as a client. There are many different experiences and commentary on the internet, our view: Lon is easier to engineer, but more expensive to buy. Bacnet has more “do’s and don’t s, and there are a greater number of vendors whom offer it embedded in their products giving a greater opportunity to offer “best of breed” to the client. We find both communication protocols reliable. Do some research of your own, some vendors with only offer Bacnet or Lon, not both, some clients will only accept one or the other. Our caution to you, beware of proprietary open protocols, which have the capability to lock a purchaser into a single vendor situation.

Can we use our BMS to serve for our EMS?

Usually, and this is the easiest except for two scenarios:

  • The existing BMS is old, obsolete and reliant upon single vendor support.
  • The existing BMS vendor is charging a small fortune and you’d like to move away over the long term rather than spend more money with this vendor.

Can our EMS be independent?

Yes, a web server connected to your metering devices can provide a totally technician working in a control panel for mechanical services in a commercial buildingindependent system with additional options for BMS communications, it’s subject to protocols but there is opportunity.

What is the pay back time for the return on investment?

The Purists will tell you five years, if you are serious and actually investigate the data from the meters, and take a proactive attitude to continual conservation of resources, the pay back is likely to be only 2 years. Do the math yourself and prove it.

What are the maths?

Keep it simple, for example: a car park fan say 30 KW (about the physical size of beer barrel) runs 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. So: 30 x 12 x 5 x 52 (52 is for annual amount) give us 93,600 KWh. Check your energy bills, but we are going to use 14 cents per KWh, so our cost is $13,104:00 per annum.
We have left out Power factor, peak/off peak and a few other things, but this will do for now.
You install a separate power meter on the car park switchboard and receive weekly reports in your e-mail (totally automated) for the energy you are using just for your car park. You discover the car park uses 4500 KWh per week (two car park fans, lights, A/C unit) which is about $630 per week.
The visibility you have just gained is worth dollars.
The next task is to reduce the car park energy costs with energy Management Strategies and a plan of implementation.
Three months later, you have reduced your energy consumption to let’s say $200 per week.
Because you are now running your fans about 20% because you have installed a Carbon Monoxide system (AS1668 compliant) and occupancy sensors for the lights so they are on about 40% less also.

Capital costs
Meter and web server $8000
Carbon Monoxide System $15000
Lighting Control $12000
Total capital cost $35,000


Energy costs
Old energy costs
52 x $630 = $32,760
New energy Costs
52 x $200 = $10,400
Energy Savings


Return on Investment
Year 1 ROI $22360 – $35,000= ($12 640)
Year 2 ROI $22360 – $12640= $9,720


Our example is dependent upon the car park fan usage and lighting usage reducing, by a factor to ensure ROI within two years, hence a site visit/audit to investigate sources of potential energy saving to old BMS Graphicunderstand their current usage and parameters to deliver a business case and budgets.

Other factors to consider is variable speed drives on the fans, T5 Lighting or LED, Hours of operation, natural ventilation and power factor.

The point to emphasis here is that an energy saving, is a saving. To find the opportunities and develop greater conservation, then greater visibility into the behaviors of the site becomes a huge asset, and essentially, this is the first task for an Energy Management System.

Who should be asked to be involved?

There are consultants, Facility Management companies, Asset Management Companies (like us), some controls companies and a plethora of others; the options and delivery may vary, the important thing is to begin and plan so you can measure results with KPI’s and Energy Billings.

What about NABERS & BEEC?

Any energy Conservation Strategy that delivers results will have a benefit towards these assessments, how much benefit, what time frame, how many stars, how many dollars, is all site specific. A final note on web servers and metering; if you haven’t already asked your provider, is that these energy reports can greatly assist with the assessment processes, for instance, water, gas and power reporting could be sent directly to your assessors e-mail.

Nigel Wraight
Wraight Property

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