While referred to interchangeably, building management systems (BMS) and energy analytics software (EAS) are quite different forms of energy analytics management.
It’s important for businesses to understand the differences so they can maximize how they manage their properties and leverage the complementary nature of these two systems.
What BMS Systems Do
BMS systems combine software and hardware to control systems such as lighting, heating, air conditioning, fire systems, etc. With a BMS, similar to energy analytics software systems, building managers can adjust systems as needed or certain functions can be automated, such as creating schedules to setback HVAC units and turn off lighting systems during unoccupied hours.
Additionally, BMS can provide alerts when connected systems and machines malfunction. In some instances, they can extend beyond the confines of a building and communicate with external systems, like a smart grid. In these cases, a smart grid could communicate with the BMS such as for accepting a lower rate from a utility company in exchange for using less energy during anticipated periods of high demand, as the Building Efficiency Initiative explains.
What EAS Systems Do
Despite the high degree of control that BMS systems offer, they frequently lack the insight and analytical capabilities to identify key energy savings opportunities. For instance, programming an energy efficiency schedule based on building occupancy into a building management system is almost always a prudent practice.
However, an energy analytics software (EAS) system has the ability to connect historical and real-time building performance with projected periods of increased energy costs and current peak vs. off-peak utility billing rates.
Analyzing this data is extremely powerful, as these energy analytics management system can recommend operational adjustments and scheduling modifications that can help a building manager set more intelligent schedules and maximize their energy savings potential on an ongoing basis.
From a cost accounting perspective, most manufacturers spread their energy costs evenly across their produced units when developing their costing models. This approach is not completely accurate, as energy costs are not fixed and fluctuate over the course of the year.
By monitoring energy costs on a real-time basis, EAS systems can quantify actual energy costs per unit and identify avoidable cost opportunities. For instance, in a period of increased regional energy costs, an energy analytics software system can help a company with manufacturing facilities in multiple states identify opportunities to shift their production location to minimize their costs of production.
This is another case that exemplifies the types of insights that an EAS can provide that would be missed by a building management system.
Connecting It All
While both BMS and EAS systems are useful for managing a building, they serve very different, but complementary purposes. Ideally, companies should have an energy analytics software system for deeply analyzing their operations and a BMS to act on the insights that an EAS system provides. In many cases, EAS systems can be integrated into a BMS directly to create more intelligent, autonomous energy analytics management systems.