Building Automation Systems

What is “Building Automation Systems?”

Building Automation Systems (BAS) uses techniques in Information Technology to integrate and manage commercial building systems. The result — “smart” buildings with coordinated operations that maximize energy efficiency, reliability, and occupant comfort. Many modern commercial buildings are now being designed with BAS in mind.

Systems and devices typically controlled include…

  • Heating and cooling (HVAC) system components such as thermostats, boilers, chillers, coils, air handling units, pumps, and fans
  • Plumbing system components such as valves, pumps, and flow meters
  • Air quality control system components such as gas sensors and ventilation devices
  • Security systems such as alarms and closed circuit cameras
  • Power monitoring systems
  • Lighting presence, brightness, and timing.
  • Devices such as key pads, card readers, meters, and sensors associated with any of the above systems…and more!

Where does Information Technology come in?

Any type of communication between two or more entities requires a common language. For example, human beings communicate using spoken and written languages like English or Chinese. Similarly, many modern building system components require a common language to coordinate their behavior by receiving and transmitting messages, but instead of words, they use computer code. Algorithms, which are special instructions written using various types of computer code, are built into each device to tell them how to function.

Additionally, rules for how these algorithms should handle certain situations are also applied in the form of a protocol which tells devices what to do and when. The industry standard protocol is called BACnet. BACnet was established as an ASHRAE standard in 1995 and stands for Building Automation and Control Networks. Since then, increasing numbers of manufacturers have embraced this standard, and now there are many BACnet compatible devices.

Devices that “speak” BACnet communicate with one another over a computer network, like a local area network (LAN) or the Internet, and allow the technicians and building managers to direct and monitor the systems virtually (using software) as well as physically.

Working in BAS: Where the Virtual meets the Physical

Building automation technicians must be competent in both computer networking and the design and layout of the physical systems (HVAC, plumbing, etc.) that are being controlled. With the increasing popularity of intelligent buildings and the desire by building managers to save on energy and maintenance costs, talented BAS technicians are in high demand.

Where to find jobs in BAS?

Are you a student? Sign up on our Energy Jobs mailing list right here for regular updates about networking events, internships, and employment opportunities in this exciting field!

Coming soon – a growing list of US companies that typically hire BAS-trained individuals. Are you an energy company and would like to be listed on this site? Email dtccenergy-at-gmail-dot-com.