What is an Automated Building?

B. Turner

An automated building is a structure that is operated using a central control system. These central control systems use computer networks to monitor and provide feedback on heating and cooling units, lighting, and many other building applications. Automated building systems are primarily used on large buildings, and are not as common in smaller structures. The central control system used to automate a building may also be known as a building automation system (BAS) or building management system (BMS). This technology is also referred to as a “smart building” or a “smart system.”

Automated buildings use central control systems to monitor and provide feedback on lighting and other building systems.
Automated buildings use central control systems to monitor and provide feedback on lighting and other building systems.

Automated building technology can be used to control many different systems within the building. The systems are commonly connected to heating and cooling units, as well as ventilation equipment. The automation system can be used to turn lights on and off at specified time, or dim the lights according to the level of sunlight detected. Hot water heaters and chillers can also be controlled by these systems, along with specialized equipment. Finally, the central control system may be tied to fire and security alarms or communications systems throughout the building.

While each type of automated building system may be configured slightly differently, there are some basic similarities among these systems. They may be operated my a desktop computer or hand-held mini-computers. This control unit is equipped with some form of BAS or BMS software that is used to automate the entire building. Maintenance personal use these control units to set acceptable temperature and humidity ranges, program equipment, and monitor security and fire alarms. If an irregularity or problem is detected by the software, an alert can be sent in the form of a text message, email, or automated phone call.

When automated building software is in place, the heating and cooling units will automatically adjust within a given temperature range. Lights will be switched on as directed, and switched off to save energy at night. Carbon dioxide monitors sense when air quality is poor, and direct fresh air throughout the building as needed.

Automated buildings offer many benefits over traditional maintenance systems. The control systems help to keep temperature and humidity levels in check, which can make the building more comfortable for occupants. This can also prolong the life of furnishings and equipment, and help to prevent mold and mildew. Because heating and cooling units are automatically adjusted, the building operates more efficiently, which can reduce annual energy costs. An automated building system can also alert maintenance personnel to tasks that need attention, which can make maintenance easier while extending the life of building systems.

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