3 Reasons Not to Upgrade Your Building Management System
Over the years, we’ve seen many of the businesses we work with in the commercial real estate (CRE) space confronted with a difficult and disruptive decision—whether or not to upgrade their building management system (BMS).
In many cases, it’s because their BMS is old and outdated, or isn’t providing the level of visibility their facilities teams need to improve building operations, tenant comfort, or drive critical energy efficiency operations in a repeatable, programmatic way. However, upgrading a BMS is a massive undertaking with serious implications on your buildings. More importantly, it’s not the only option.
Here are three reasons to re-think that BMS upgrade, and a recommendation for a cost-effective and powerful alernative.
1. It’s Too Expensive
Beyond the cost of the new system itself, many businesses underestimate the total cost of ownership of migrating to an upgraded or fully replaced system.
In an article published at FMLink, BOMI International warns that businesses will need to account for the cost of maintaining service contracts on their older systems, which can include equipment like cabling and sensors that must be kept in place while the new system is installed—and which can take over a year to complete.
This can significantly increase the cost of the upgrade process, as well as add to significant disruption to existing and prospective tenants. According to BOMI International, “the annual cost of a service contract for an old system may exceed the cost of implementing a newer system.” Before moving ahead with this kind of decision, it’s important to weigh all other options.
2. It’s Too Time-Consuming
The time to value of an upgrade is another important factor to keep in mind. Considering that a BMS upgrade requires replacing a large amount of hardware, connectors, sensors and other ancillary equipment, many businesses equate the time to value with the time to install the new system.
However, just as important to keep in mind is the time required to train building operators and engineers on using the new platform and interface. This can be time-consuming on itself, but the problem can be compounded when considering the amount of retraining necessary as a result of turnover during this period.
According to BOMI International, “training staff on the new system may require the employees spend several weeks at the system manufacturer’s site.” This can have a serious impact on your staff’s productivity.
3. It Won’t Cover the Gaps in BMS Visibility
Building automation systems are only as useful as the visibility and associated actions they provide into your operations, but in many cases these systems alone aren't enough to identify the root causes behind equipment malfunctions. Coupled with the growth of connected devices and equipment emerging as buildings embrace the Internet of Things, distilling these root causes and automating the required actions has become necessary to manage complex buildings in today’s connected environment.
In one LEED commercial building, EnerNOC’s energy intelligence software found that supply fans were running 24/7 despite the fact that all equipment was set up to shut down when the buildings were unoccupied on nights and weekends. After diving into the issue, engineers found an undetected communication error was preventing the fans from following the operational schedule set up in the BMS—an easy fix for the staff to implement, but one that would have gone unnoticed without the insights provided by linking the BMS with the building’s energy meter data. Even after going through the long, expensive process of upgrading your BMS, you may still have blind spots preventing your facilities teams from making real progress in energy and operational efficiency.
When combined with building-level data, energy intelligence software identifies faults and other equipment issues in your buildings through persistent commissioning and provides staff with the information needed to address it: a summary of the fault, recommended action to resolve it, estimated cost of implementing the measure, projected savings the business can expect as a result, and even collaboration tools to track progress on projects. For a lot of commercial buildings, integrating EIS is a much easier way to accomplish what others aim for when considering a BMS upgrade.
If you’re looking for more visibility into your buildings’ operations, you don’t necessarily need to upgrade your BMS—you just need to unlock its full potential.