The Move Beyond Building Automation Systems to a More Secure Energy Infrastructure


The challenge for BAS lies not only within the monitoring process, but actually the optimization aspect that involves a wide array of resources integrated into a single smart digital energy network. Clearly there is an opportunity that goes beyond BAS capabilities and instead provides the ability to solve grid reliability and peak demand contingencies at the local distribution grid node level. Engineers and automation professionals familiar with BAS have begun to understand and appreciate the true value that comes with the implementation of a digital energy network and its ability to boost system efficiency, maximize the return on investment (ROI) in customer-owned generation and other DER assets, and ultimately, ensure the highest level of business operational up-time.

Another vulnerability area involved with BAS is its reliance on customization. By design, building automation software is custom—an individual has to write custom code, draw screens, and test applications to produce a working, fully functional product for the end customer. Typically, there is little overlap from one client implementation to the next, so each customer receives its own code. While this may sound appealing, its end result is just the opposite. It’s a major red flag.

To begin with, custom-coded systems are very difficult to test. Testing is usually limited to the go-live test at the end of a project, due to the complexity and limited time available for testing. Once tested and commissioned (assuming it was all clear, which is a big assumption), the next difficulty encountered is maintenance and modification. Custom code is difficult to maintain over time and leaves customers in a predicament as their infrastructure and/or system needs change. More often than not, the practical lifecycle for a fully implemented system is 2-3 years after which, due to an ever- increasing irrelevance, translates to increased risk, higher costs and time lost.