Belapur Railway Station Commercial Complex (BRSCCL) is one of the largest commercial complexes in Navi Mumbai. It is a sprawling complex of over one million square feet, stretched across its 10 towers, it sits atop the CBD Belapur station in Navi Mumbai. It also happens to be the recipient of the prestigious National Award for Excellence in Energy Management, in building and service sector from the President of India. It is also the winner of the National Energy Management Award at the CII National Energy Management Conference. One of the principal enablers of this success is that BRSCCL has been retrofitted with Building Management System (BMS). “Despite being a building over 40 years old, many of the electrical assets and systems have been connected and are managed through BuildTrack’s BMS system which uses the latest IoT technologies to achieve significant efficiencies for us,” said Vaibhav Mahajan, Manager of BRSCCL complex.

Buildings, both residential and commercial, account for a significant portion of the overall energy consumption of our country. They account for more than 30 per cent of the total energy consumption in the country. Additionally, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) believes that almost 450 million square metre of space is likely to be added every year on average for the next 20-30 years. Each year the energy consumed by buildings is anticipated to grow by about 8 per cent. New building codes such as Energy Compliance Building Code, introduced in early 2000s and updated in 2017 by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, have been introduced with the intent to ensure that the new building stock that is coming into existence in the next decade will be more energy efficient than the traditional buildings. But the existing stock of residential and commercial buildings is very large, and most of them like BRSCCL, have been in operation for many years and cannot quickly or drastically change any of the electrical equipment and systems that they use. Not only would the cost associated with such changes be prohibitive, it is also not feasible often to shut down or disrupt the operation of the building to make changes without significant inconvenience to the tenants or residents of the building. There is no doubt that significant wastage occurs in the energy consumption within a building, but given the disparate and disconnected electrical assets and systems in a building it is a challenge to monitor and control them on a daily basis, so that corrective action can be taken to conserve energy and eliminate waste. This is where a Building Management System, which is also sometimes known as a Building Automation and Control systems, comes in to facilitate such a level of monitoring and control.

A building consists of many systems and assets that are needed for the operation of the building and for the comfort, safety and security of the occupants of that building space. These include the lighting systems, air conditioning systems which include chillers and AHUs; pumps and motors for getting water into overhead tanks, surveillance cameras and perimeter security system; fire safety panels and smoke sensors to monitor fires; diesel generators, renewable energy systems such as solar panels or wind turbines and server rooms and inverters and batteries; elevators and escalator systems. Not only do buildings require systems, but they also require meters for monitoring critical utilities and operating parameters. These can include energy meters, BTU meters and water meters. All these assets and systems either consume energy in achieving their objectives or they generate energy for the use within the building or they simply monitor the consumption of energy and other utilities like water.

All these systems typically operate independent of each other and are not connected together. Each typically has its own dashboards or management center that allows users to interface with that system to monitor its parameters or to change them as required during the course of the operations. These systems operate on their own protocols as well, which in the case of building systems the most commonly used protocols have been BACnet and MODbus. In recent years, IP as a protocol has joined this list in recent years. Typically, the components of an HVAC system use the BACnet protocol to communicate with each other. MODBus is more common protocol for many of the other systems. A BMS system has to be able to connect to these various systems despite their protocols so that it can be the single point at which all these systems are accessible for both monitoring and some degree of control. In recent years, new technologies such as the ‘Internet of Things’, commonly known as ‘IoT’, have appeared on the scene. One of the benefits of the latest technologies like IoT, is that the BMS system that uses these technologies can retrofit existing buildings easily allowing for superior monitoring and control of all their assets to achieve both energy efficiency and greater operational effectiveness with fewer labor resources. It can also provide access to these systems not only on the premises of the building but also remotely over the internet. “The introduction of IoT technology based BMS systems have created a retrofit option for existing residential and commercial buildings and certainly for new one, for achieving energy efficiency as well as substantially improved safety and security,” commented Dr Narendra Bhat, President, BuildTrack, whose BMS system received The Internet and Mobile Association of India’s (IAMAI) prestigious ‘Best of IoT’ award.

One of the primary reasons for energy wastage in buildings because buildings are very complex to manage and maintain, especially with constant changes in occupancy, tenants, tenants operating hours and assets being utilised and more. One of the key ways to ensure control of the building energy performance is to have a system that is constantly monitoring the performance of the building assets and offering the ability to facility management personnel to control the various assets in a manner that optimises their operations without inconveniencing the needs of the building occupants. Such a system is typically known as a Building Management System or a Building Automation and Control systems. Such a system not only threads together all the electrical assets and systems that serve the building, but also monitors the various meters responsible for monitoring energy, water and other utilities for the building.

Since the BMS system is the nexus of all the varied systems and assets in the building, it serves as the vantage point from which to manage aspects of safety, security and energy management. One of the most powerful tools for energy management is the ability to create schedules. These would allow elimination of wastage for many of the building systems that consume energy. The building lighting is one of the major consumers of energy and this can include common area lighting in lobbies, hallways and aisles. It can also include landscape lighting, façade lighting and street lighting and signage around the building.

Air conditioning is one of the major consumers of energy in buildings often contributing to more than 40-50 per cent of the energy consumption of a building. It is also an area where significant wastage of energy occurs and huge opportunities for improvement in energy consumption exist. Most buildings use VRF systems or some buildings typically use a large number of split ACs distributed throughout the facility which BMS can control.  Dr Narendra Bhat, provided an example, “RG Kar, Medical College Hospital based in Kolkata, had dozens of distributed split ACs from multiple brands spread across their buildings, and using a BuildTrack BMS, we were able to centralise control and monitoring for both energy efficiency and safety. For buildings where wiring is not feasible, we have deployed wireless systems.”

Overall, the use of a BMS system offers operators of the building a single point of control of all the assets and systems of the building, providing one of the best methods to reduce the energy footprint of a building and optimise the operating cost.