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BAS and BPS: Automating for Compliance

lights hanging inside a building

Many professionals in the building automation industry must engage in targeted actions that enable meeting building performance standards (BPS). Fortunately, a building automation system (BAS) can make tracking progress and complying with laws or regulations much more straightforward.

Gather and Review Relevant Data

Most BAS platforms automatically collect information about a building’s operations, whether related to occupant numbers or electricity usage. Many also allow the creation of periodic reports from the gathered data, letting people verify whether a building is getting closer to meeting BPS within the required time frame.

The European Union has unveiled the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive as part of an ongoing effort to decrease carbon emissions in the region’s sites. One of the initiative’s goals is a 60% reduction in building-related emissions by 2030, gradually introducing minimum performance standards for non-residential structures. The Directive also includes building modernization requirements. Some decision-makers may find BAS platforms make it easier to meet needs and track progress.

Technological platforms’ automatic data-tracking capabilities reveal trends and areas for improvement. They also create a paper trail for people to prove to regulators that progress is underway and occurring at the necessary pace.

This kind of automation eliminates manual measures that are often error-prone and time-consuming for everyone involved. Plus, automated tracking through a BAS provides a comprehensive picture of what’s happening within a building at any time. Alternatives may only provide snapshots unreflective of the ongoing circumstances.

Prove Accountability

Many compliance measures require responsible parties to take the necessary actions to achieve specific BPS. For example, one initiative for federal buildings in the United States focuses on Scope 1 emissions, which come from sources controlled or owned by the relevant organization. This BPS requires at least 30% of an agency’s federal buildings to eliminate fossil-fuel electricity emissions.

Many federal agencies have multiple sites, but a BAS can support progress for all of them. In one example, decision-makers associated with the General Services Administration’s Oklahoma City Federal Building evaluated how grid-interactive efficient building technologies could save energy and money.

Before this project began, an existing BAS controlled the HVAC system but not the lights, solar panels or battery backup systems. However, construction teams pursued improvements by linking several electricity-related data streams to the software. Those involved additionally decided the BAS would directly measure these upgrades’ cost and energy savings. Estimates suggested the upgrades would save $98,822 and more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per year.

The related analyses also indicated which energy-related improvements would have the biggest impacts. Advanced power strips, intelligent lighting and solar panels were some associated installations intended to meet energy goals.

Data from the BAS, smart sensors and other hardware can show whether the building’s energy savings are on track for the expected annual levels. The regulators setting the BPS will also appreciate the data feeding into the BAS interface. Such automation promotes accuracy and keeps people motivated by highlighting the positive changes. 

Set a Baseline and Monitor Results

Several U.S. jurisdictions have Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) requiring buildings in participating areas to use less energy gradually. The BEPS in Washington, D.C. applies to commercial buildings of at least 50,000 square feet. One 11-story office building aimed for a 20% energy usage reduction and wanted to achieve a 71 median ENERGY STAR score, which is the benchmark for Washington, D.C. office buildings.

A multiprong enhancement plan included upgrading the BAS, such as by installing lock-out programs, adjusting equipment usage schedules and switching existing pneumatic controls with particular components to digital ones. Specialists from a consulting firm also met monthly to analyze energy data from real-time statistics, utility bills and other sources.

Real-time tracking helped people identify operational improvements that would minimize peak load demands and reduce energy consumption. Automation eliminates manual changes because people can choose parameters and select associated actions the system takes without oversight.

The team also took baseline measurements and compared them to more recent activity. This building now uses 29% less energy than it did in 2019, so the results exceed BEPS requirements.

Those involved mentioned building system upgrades as major drivers of these impressive results. They also noted the importance of analyzing existing technologies to find low and no-cost enhancements. Succeeding with those can increase decision-makers’ commitments and confidence, encouraging them to investigate high-tech automation options.

Let Automation Make Compliance More Manageable

Numerous factors — such as the capabilities of a BAS and how much energy a building must save to meet requirements — can affect how likely an organization is to achieve future or current BPS. However, automation is a vital part of helping people set and obtain goals. It significantly reduces manual data-tracking methods that could become unreliable because people don’t collect statistics often enough or make mistakes when they do.

Although automation is not foolproof, it raises accuracy and provides data to prove organizations have taken the necessary actions. Automatically collected information can also urge people to set additional goals, enabling a continuous improvement culture.