Is the Relationship Between EMS and BEMS Changing?

by | Dec 16, 2015

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The Flood BuildingNew reports from Navigant Research and Grand View Research raise two interesting questions: What is the relationship between energy management systems and building energy management systems (EMS and BEMS)? How are the definitions of these two terms changing as technology evolves and energy efficiency becomes a priority?

The Navigant research predicts that the global building energy management systems (BEMS) market will grow from $2.8 billion last year to $10.8 billion in 2024. The study clearly points to the fact that buildings – now “intelligent buildings” — are in the middle of great changes in telecom, information technology and energy generation.

The nature of the technology is that buildings are networked to create efficiencies. “Intelligent buildings become nodes in the Energy Cloud,” Navigant Senior Research Analyst Casey Talon told Energy Manager Today. “In other words, these facilities can be assets to balance grid pressures and sites for renewables and distributed energy resources to expand customer choice. The capacity to manage energy consumption in a dynamic way with automation, controls, and analytics is fundamental to the concept of the intelligent building, and this functionality is exactly what helps the intelligent building interact with the Energy Cloud.”

The Grand View Research Grand View Research took a broader view. It looked at the overall energy management sector. The report defines EMS to include power and energy, telecom and IT, manufacturing, retail and office, healthcare and other categories, according to the press release.

The research found that the global market will reach $58.59 billion by 2020. International standardization and global initiatives will be key drivers, the report found. The largest product segment is industry energy management systems (IEMS), which generated 60 percent of the overall category’s revenues last year.

A tremendous amount has been written during the past couple of years on BEMS and EMS. As time passes, it will become important for the vast ecosystem to understand how the two fit together. This will be especially vital from the marketing and technical perspectives.

An obvious goal of EMS and BEMS is more efficient energy use. However, things can get a bit tricky. Creating an energy-neutral building is difficult, but relatively straight forward. Depending upon the precise definition used, a building that meets certain goals – usually generating as much or more energy than it uses during given period of time – meets the objective.

However, to really get a picture of the impact that building is having, wouldn’t it be just as relevant to consider a broader set of variables? For instance, if the building is constructed in a rural area not served by mass transportation, it is fair to assume that more energy would expanded in workers commuting to work than if the building is closer to population centers or near a railroad station.

That context is one of the ideas behind The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008. The Institute for Local Government says that the California law, which also is known as SB 375

…builds on the existing framework of regional planning to tie together the regional allocation of housing needs and regional transportation planning in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from motor vehicle trips.

The law assumes that where the building is (in relation to transportation) is important. Thus, the determination of how energy efficient the building really is goes beyond the energy use of the building itself. In other words, it is technically correct but misleading to say that a building that generates as much as energy as it uses is energy efficient if it requires hundreds of people to drive commute to it via car every weekday.

That’s important. If energy efficiency is measured on a community-wide scale, the way in which managers approach things will be different. In such a context, it may not be necessary for each building in a community to generate as much energy as it uses. It may only matter what the numbers are on the broader communitywide scale.

Another way to phrase the question at the top of this post is this: How does adding tremendous connectivity and communications capabilities to the overall power grid change the role of an individual building in the context of its community?

EMS and BMS will infrastructure will be used to create and operate smart cities. The bottom line is that building managers and owners will need to understand where buildings fit in the big picture: How are the management capabilities and analytic data derived created by sensors and other equipment in the building relevant outside the structure? A good first step to answering this question is clearly defining the limits of EMS and BEMS.

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