Blueprint to Breaching the Commercial Automation Market

Learn about the challenges and opportunities with building automation and its integration with security and life-safety systems.

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Ask any building superintendent where most of their expenses lie and they’ll tell you it is in energy consumption. The fact is nearly 30% of a typical office building’s operating expenses result from energy usage.

According to Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) of Madison, Wis., in terms of energy use and its cost on an annual basis, most office buildings use on average 17.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and 31.8 cubic feet of natural gas per square foot.

At an average commercial cost of 10 cents per kWh for electricity and 98 cents per hundred cubic feet of natural gas, this computes to $1.73 and 31 cents of power per square foot, respectively, according to MGE.

Taking this one step further, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the mean square footage of an average U.S. commercial property is more than 14,500 square feet. On the basis of MGE’s energy costing information, the total average annual cost of energy for the average commercial property is nearly $30,000.

It is certainly understandable that in light of today’s high energy costs that commercial building owners want to reduce energy consumption in any way possible. Manual conservation helps, but not everyone will remember to turn the lights off, adjust the temperature before leaving or when arriving, or to perform other energy-saving tasks at key moments of the day.

The most efficient way to do this is through the implementation of a building automation system (BAS).

A Case for Security Integration With a BAS

Security integrators should take a serious look at entering the BAS market. You’re possibly wondering how an integrated security system fits into the workings of a BAS, right? The answer is threefold.

First, at its core, a BAS requires a multitude of sensors as well as a network infrastructure through which to integrate all the various building subsystems together. Of utmost importance to the BAS mission is the inclusion of all energy-related subsystems, such as HVAC and electric lighting. This also can include fire detection, fire protection, access control, video surveillance and security.

While surveyed AV integrators are more diversified entering 2015 than they were entering 2014, for some reason the needle hasn’t moved on automation.

Second, almost without exception a BAS requires someone to install, administer and maintain the cable that links each device together or to a central integration platform. This usually entails the installation of Category-5e/6 cabling.

When implementing an integration platform that uses TCP/ IP, there also comes the need for network servers, routers, data storage, switches and other devices. Who better than a security integrator to provide the means by which systems integration takes place?

The third compelling reason for security integrators to get involved is cash — and there’s plenty of it to be had by savvy, informed and skilled security integration firms.

For example, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan study, “Global Building Automation Market,” the market earned revenues of $5.78 billion in 2013 and projects to reach $7.28 billion in 2018. The data-center and hospitality application segments in particular will experience rapid growth owing to increased Internet penetration in emerging nations and the expansion of the tourism market.

“In recent years, there have been growing pressures to build high-performance buildings and systems that can track energy consumption, cost and usage in order to create more efficient facilities,” says Aanchal Singh, a Frost & Sullivan energy and environment research analyst.