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Integrated Building Management Systems


  • 17.1 Overview
  • 17.2 Escalated Complexity
  • 17.3 Specifications for the Future Building Management System (IBMS)

Almost every large building uses a building management system (BMS); it's the major platform for operating the building systems and the overall building. However, as we transition to more complex, higher performing, and energy efficient buildings, it is apparent that many of the traditional building management systems are not up to the task of monitoring and managing today's building operations. What are the shortcomings of the legacy BMS? The list is quite long but the major items include limited integration capabilities, inadequate and elementary analytic tools, proprietary programming languages, security, a dearth of software applications and legacy user interfaces.


To some extent, the BMS market has gotten to this point because of the business and financial aspects surrounding the procurement of a BMS. When a traditional BMS is sold and installed it's usually a small part of a much larger investment. The larger piece of business is the sale of building automation systems (BAS) controllers. It's the controllers' need for ongoing service, repair, parts and possible replacement over time that will generate significant recurring revenue for the equipment manufacturer or installation contractor. So the main building management tool, the one that provides the user interface for many of the building systems, often takes an inferior position to selling and installing the controller hardware. Some manufacturers may not put a lot of resources into developing a BMS product that will likely be only a very small part of a total sale.

Major BMS manufacturers have made some incremental improvements to their products. They may have added an energy management software package, reengineered an industrial automated process system for buildings, or even purchased smaller software companies thinking that would suffice. Despite these efforts,building management systems have fallen well short of where they need to be.

Part of the problem is that BMS manufacturers have not necessarily been good at IT and the BMS is an IT system: it's a computer server with a database, IP addresses and software applications, and connected to networks. What has developed at the industry level for building automation and IT is just a magnification of what is happening in many facility management and IT departments, that is, the readjustment of the roles of facility management and IT departments given the reality of the significant penetration of IT into building systems. The movement of BAS manufacturers into IT equipment, as well as IT companies into building controls has been an ongoing in the industry.

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