What are Building Automation Control Systems (BACS)?

Building Automation Control Systems are centralised, interconnected networks of hardware and software that monitor and control the various systems within a building. The primary goal of BACS is to enhance the efficiency of building operations, reduce energy consumption, and provide a comfortable and safe environment for occupants.

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) refers to BACS as:

“A system comprising all products, software and engineering services that can support energy-efficient, economical and safe operation of technical building systems through automatic controls and by facilitating the manual management of those technical building systems”.

Building Automation and energy consumption monitoring

According to the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU, making them the single largest energy consumer in Europe.

Building automation plays, therefore, a crucial role in contributing to energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting sustainable building practices, since BACS can:

  • help optimising the operation of various building systems, such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, and more.
  • be configured to integrate with renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines.
  • collect and analyse data over time, providing insights into energy usage patterns and opportunities for optimisation.
  • contribute to meeting the criteria for green building certifications like Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).
  • help buildings respond dynamically to temperature fluctuations and other climate-related factors, ensuring efficient operation and minimising energy waste.

What is the difference between BACS and Building Management Systems (BMS)?

Building Automation Control Systems and Building Management Systems share the common goal of enhancing the operational efficiency and sustainability of buildings, but they may carry nuanced differences depending on regional practices or specific industry contexts.

BACS, as we’ve seen, typically emphasise the automated control and optimisation of various building systems. They often highlight the seamless integration of different control systems to ensure coordinated and efficient building operation.

On the other hand, the term Building Management Systems (BMS) tends to have a broader connotation. While encompassing the features of BACS, BMS may extend beyond the realm of automation. It can include strategic and high-level management functions, such as space utilisation tracking, occupancy monitoring, and other aspects that contribute to overall building management.

BACS decree and tertiary buildings

Published in July 2020, the BACS decree completes the tertiary sector decree and mandates the installation of an automation and control system in non-residential tertiary buildings, with effect from January 1st 2025.

Since energy management is one of the most important levers for reducing energy consumption, the primary objective with the BACS decree is to monitor energy consumption and regulate building activities accordingly. As a reminder, the tertiary sector decree had already required all players in the tertiary sector, owners and tenants of buildings of 1,000 m² or more, to reduce their energy consumption by 40% by 2030 as a first step.

Applicable to both new and existing structures, the BACS decree covers all non-residential tertiary buildings, such as hotels, office buildings, towers, and warehouses, equipped with a heating or air conditioning system, whether or not combined with a ventilation system, boasting a nominal power greater than 290 kW. In the case of tertiary buildings with heating and cooling systems of more than 70 kW, these will have to comply starting January 2027.

The BACS decree will require the following:

  • Installation of a building automation and control system, meeting at least class C standards per EN-ISO 52120-1/2022.
  • Adoption of a room-by-room control system.
  • Maintenance oversight through a dedicated contract conducted by a certified technician.
  • Documentation and retention of monthly data for a period of five years.

📝 Read also: What changes in the HVAC Industry in 2024

BACS decree and Intelligent Maintenance Management Platforms

The BACS decree, that will be effective from January 2025, poses both an opportunity for stepping up our sustainability game, and a challenge that comes, as it becomes evident, with several regularity constraints. It is then crucial to make sure that our Building Management operations are ready to acommodate the application and monitoring of this decree, and that’s where the integration with an Intelligent Maintenance Management Platform (IMMP) can be very helpful.

An IMMP can significantly enhance the performance of a Building Automation Control System by introducing smart features and automation into the maintenance and management processes. Moreover, it can play a crucial role in ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and industry guidelines, namely through:

Documentation

  • Maintain a centralised and easily accessible repository for all relevant compliance documents, including maintenance schedules, inspection reports, and equipment specifications.
  • Automate the generation and storage of compliance-related documents to ensure that accurate records are readily available for audits.

Automated Compliance Checks

  • Implement automated checks and alerts to ensure that the BACS is consistently meeting regulatory requirements.
  • Configure the system to automatically monitor and report on key compliance parameters, such as environmental conditions, safety protocols, and system performance.

Scheduled Inspections and Audits

  • Create automated schedules for routine inspections and audits to ensure that the BACS is regularly assessed for compliance.
  • Generate work orders and reminders for inspection tasks and track completion to demonstrate adherence to compliance timelines.

Real-time Monitoring and Reporting

  • Utilise real-time monitoring features to track and report on critical parameters, allowing quick identification of any deviations from compliance standards.
  • Incorporate regulatory standards and guidelines into the IMMP, ensuring that the maintenance and operational processes align with the specific requirements of relevant authorities.
  • Implement dashboards and reports that provide a comprehensive view of the BACS performance in relation to specific metrics.

Training and Certification Tracking

  • Manage employee training records and certifications within the IMMP to ensure that personnel involved in BACS operations are adequately trained and certified.
  • Set up alerts for upcoming certification renewals and training requirements to maintain compliance with workforce qualification standards.

Incident Management and Risk Assessment

  • Establish a streamlined incident management process within the IMMP to report and investigate any compliance-related incidents promptly.
  • Document corrective actions taken to address incidents and prevent recurrence, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Use the IMMP to conduct risk assessments related to BACS operations and identify potential risks.

Notification and Communication

  • Set up automated notifications to alert relevant personnel of any compliance-related issues or upcoming deadlines.
  • Facilitate communication between stakeholders through the IMMP to ensure a coordinated response to requirements.
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