February 2020

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Is a Small Size Building Worth a BMS?

But while some buildings were unable to have a BMS implemented back in the day, maybe it is the right time for a retrofit?
Pawel Szarmanski
Pawel Szarmanski
Product Manager
Global Control 5

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Let's be honest - Building Management Systems (BMS) have not been designed for small buildings. It's all about the scale! Big sized buildings of over 50,000 square feet (around 4500 square meters) with the potential of huge energy waste are more likely to use BMS than small (under 5,000 square feet) and medium (5,000-50,000 square feet) sized buildings that may utilize the cost of implementation much slower. Expert says1 that the cost of a BMS system may vary from $2.5 up to $7.00 and this is data from 2016!
According to the survey2 published by Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), there are several barriers that stand in the way of better building energy efficiency, and on top of it, there is money. Right, financial barriers as expected are on the top of the ranking, with lack of funds or very long-time payback expectations as main reasons in this category. But isn't it a trap, when small and medium-sized buildings cover 98% of the US commercial building market and represent 65% of building stock floor area3

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Studies shows4 that less than 10% of buildings have BMS with an unnecessary waste of energy consumption up to 25%! This leads up to gigantic 750 trillion Btus waste annually, only in the US! That corresponds to the yearly energy demand of Minnesota5

From a global perspective, small buildings make a big difference. But while some buildings were unable to have a BMS implemented back in the day, maybe it is the right time for a retrofit? Existing scalable solutions offered so much in one package and became affordable, bringing the big building technology and experience to small sized buildings! 

A great example of a single device that can cover most of the needs is iSMA-B-MAC36NL. Hybrid IoT controller that has been created especially for small and medium-sized buildings brings 36 I/O for Direct Digital Control, powerful Niagara Framework, with possibility of merging multi-vendor automation systems into single scalable solution, HDMI port for costless real-time data visualization and control, with two USB ports enabling touch control for the screen or mouse and keyboard connection. Moreover, the new version of iSMA-B-MAC36NL is going to be released soon, with an integrated M-bus interface. It is going to be the first Niagara 4.8 IoT controller with the possibility of standalone M-bus integration. This is another feature to bring small-sized buildings closer to the BMS with one device.

Implementation of BMS in small buildings looks even better for developers with many similar buildings. The concept of mini-BMS in every building is a great step to bring Smart Cities vision closer than it ever was! Having one multi-site solution with global access for building analytics might bring us to even better energy savings with advanced building optimization in the future.

Normalize, Scale, Visualize and Analyze. All with one single, yet powerful device, like iSMA-B-MAC36NL. Isn't it the right time for a true BMS in your building?



1Costs, Savings, and ROI for Smart Building Implementation, 2016
2Europe’s buildings under the microscope, 2015
3Jennifer King and Christopher Perry: Smart Buildings: Using Smart Technology to Save Energy in Existing Buildings, Feb 2017
4US Department of Energy: Small- and Medium-Size Building Automation and Control System Needs: Scoping Study, 2013
5New Green Prairie Community Shining Example of Sustainability, 2014 

About the Author:  
Pawel Szarmanski is Product Manager at
Global Control 5, where he develops and shares the vision of product strategies for the Niagara Framework environment. Focused on understanding the user’s needs, he always goes for the most effective solutions.


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