What are the Different Types of Building Management Systems?

B. Turner

Building management systems (BMS) or building automation systems (BAS) are programs used to monitor and control the operation of a building. These programs are run using computer software that is linked to a variety of building operational systems using wires or cables. Programmable thermostats or occupancy lighting sensors are very basic examples of building management systems. The different types of building management systems are often categorized by the specific components being monitored.

A programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat.

A standard BMS can be programmed to include heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems. The BMS software allows building managers or maintenance personnel to inspect HVAC operations using a computer, or to set temperature and humidity levels without physically adjusting related equipment. Standard building management systems also provide controls for adjusting light levels based on occupancy, time of day or according to sunlight levels on that day.

Various types of  building management systems monitor the use of lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
Various types of building management systems monitor the use of lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

More advanced BMS programs include a wider range of components. For example, some are aimed at maximizing the building's energy efficiency by regulating fan speeds, water chillers, or electrical loads during peak periods. Others may focus on sprinkler or fire alarm systems, while some even monitor air quality and adjust ventilation as needed. Building management systems may also include building security or telecommunications systems depending on the needs of the user.

These different BMS programs may also be categorized by function. Some are designed to keep operations and maintenance crews organized, while others focus on life cycle costs and performance. Organizational programs make it easier for crews to monitor systems and make adjustments, and can help alert the building manager of problems with various components. Life-cycle programs perform all of these organizational functions, but also include routine maintenance and care required over the life of each system. They also keep records of service, expenses and other information that may affect future maintenance or purchasing decisions.

Building management systems provide a number of different benefits to users. They help to maximize energy efficiency levels, which can not only protect the environment, but may also reduce operating costs. Well-maintained systems also tend to last longer, and will need replacement less often than systems that receive insufficient service or repairs. BMS programs help keep occupants comfortable by regulating temperature and lighting, which may increase productivity and worker satisfaction. Finally, these systems provide an effective method of organizing and tracking operational data within a building, which can help guide future budgets or equipment purchases.

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Discussion Comments


@Monika - I have a programmable thermostat, but I never really use it. After reading your post I think I'm going to start!

I know the building I work in has a building management system. I remember one day they were testing it during work hours and it was quite annoying. Still, I'm glad to know it works.


I have a programmable thermostat in my apartment. I really like the name building management system though, it sound very high tech. I think I will start referring to my thermostat as my "apartment management system."

Although, I should really call it my "money management system," because my programmable thermostat helps me save on my electric bill. I have it programmed to run the air conditioning a little bit less when I'm not at home.

Also, my energy provider has a rewards system that works with the thermostat. If you sign up for it, you allow them to control your thermostat and cycle your power for a small amount of time during peak usage times. I've never really noticed it, and the savings are totally worth it!

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