Web-Based Building Automation

by Daniel Tack

Web-based building automation offers an all-inclusive method to integrate HVAC, lighting controls, and security systems on a network that can be easily controlled through any common web browser. Why should you consider switching to (or starting with) a web-based building automation system?

Conventional building automation systems feature a central computer linked to controllers embedded into each of a buildings functions, Web-based building automation systems allow operators to connect multiple buildings to the Internet through gateways and convert information through an Internet protocol.

A web-based automation system can provide significant facility improvements with a wide range of benefits over previous iterations of building automation, including:

  • Reduced staffing needs.  Web-based building automation allows for a building operator to easily access and manage system information while away from the building, for multiple locations simultaneously. The benefits of one operator handling many locations can show massive cost savings almost immediately, staff can be reduced by 50% or more.
  • Enhanced security.  Security can monitor alarms and HVAC conditions at all hours, even off site.
  • Data accessible at all times. Specialists can pull up and analyze facility data from anywhere, anytime, to handle projects or problems.  Decisions can be made remotely from real data and not assumptions.
  • Occupant Options.  Building occupants can be given the options to request temperature points, temperature readings, HVAC operation, and air quality information.
  • Customer Service.  Customer service processes can be expedited and enhanced through web-based building automation.

Originally there were concerns about the safety and security of web-based building automation systems, but today the issue is no longer a concern, as preventive measures have developed along with the technology. Pricewise, if you’re looking to manage multiple locations from a single terminal, web-based building automation is the only way to go.

Web-Based Building Automation: Real Results

Many school systems and universities have been early adopters of web-based automation technology and experienced convincing cost savings. A Cisco Ave Maria University case study showcases some of the real savings behind a web-based building automation system:

  • Over $1 million saved in building costs by eliminating isolated and redundant building systems
  •  Allowed reduction of staff from 24 to 7, realizing savings of $350,000 annually
  • $600,000 in annual savings from utility usage efficiency

Marc Petock, Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications at Tridium, Inc., says “Web-based building automation systems and applications have changed the way we manage and operate our buildings today; it’s about open systems, interoperability and connectivity among all the building systems and business assets and the business value that is derived from having the ability to monitor, repair and control equipment remotely over the Internet. In addition, the current economic climate around energy and sustainability is creating a new momentum for intelligent and energy efficient buildings.”

Protocols like Lonworks or the ASHRAE standard BACnet form a set of rules for the web-based building automation system.

“The continued proliferation of microprocessors, wireless connectivity, total integration, expanded use of IP technology, convergence from the edge to the enterprise and the demand for more real-time information will continue to drive building automation and facility management and the way buildings are operated and managed” says Petock.

Conversion to a web-based building automation system comes at a token price for potentially prominent cost reductions.

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