The Benefits of Integration for Smart Buildings

By Graham Walker

Modern buildings are like living, breathing entities composed of multiple components: lighting, elevators, surveillance and security, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), and more. All these various pieces must work well together to ensure that the people within the building remain safe, comfortable, and productive. And for this, an integrated network is vital.

But in many buildings, facilities managers cannot efficiently access all these systems from one device or location, which impacts their ability to maintain the facility at expected performance levels. In addition, the lack of a single integrated network and management interface makes building management cumbersome. It also makes troubleshooting time-consuming and frustrating, adversely impacting those living and working in the building.

The solution: Smart Buildings powered by Building Automation Systems (BAS) communicating on a single converged IP network.

A BAS with technology integration between its systems helps create smart buildings that yield incredible benefits. Allied Telesis networking solutions provide the foundation for BAS integrations in smart buildings. Proven over time and deployed worldwide, our non-stop, converged networks are the central nervous systems that bring the world’s most modern buildings to life.

What is a Building Automation System?

A Building Automation System is also known as a Building Management System (BMS) or Smart Building Technology. It refers to a centralized application integrating a building’s control systems into a single, cohesive platform. Control systems can include:

  • HVAC and air quality sensors
  • Fire monitoring and alarm panels
  • Energy management
  • Door access systems and motion sensors
  • Ambient light sensors and lighting controls
  • Plumbing and water monitoring

The BAS is intelligent and enables facilities managers to monitor, control, manage, and maintain a building’s technical systems, devices, and services. These previously disjointed systems are connected to one set of controls on one data network to be centrally managed and optimized.

A BAS is part of a smart building. In fact, smart buildings and “green buildings” are smart because they have a BAS in place.

The BAS can connect externally to the Internet, or it can be internally connected, depending on the needs of the property, its owner and manager. An internet-connected BAS can help unite multiple buildings to simplify management and provide centralized control.

How Does a Building Automation System Work?

A BAS is an ecosystem of multiple components that collect and process information about the building and its various systems. Typically, a BAS has five key components:

  • User interface: dashboards and reports that display data visually and enable facilities managers to review the building’s operations and performance.
  • Sensors (input devices): measure data about the building, such as room temperatures, humidity levels, or carbon dioxide levels, and pass them to the controllers.
  • BAS Controller: processes data from sensors and sends commands to output devices.
  • Actuators (output devices): execute the controller’s commands according to programmed responses, such as “turn off equipment” or “reduce temperature.”
  • Communications network: connects all devices in the building to the BAS, either over a wired or wireless network. Standards-based protocols provide a common language to allow the various devices to communicate and interoperate.

Managers can use the information from the BAS to assess the building’s performance and make decisions to optimize its environment for occupants.

The Benefits of an Integrated Building Automation System

The need for energy-efficient facilities with advanced systems for security, fire, plumbing, and HVAC is constantly growing. High-performance BAS are vital to support these demands. That’s why the global BAS market is expected to grow from $73.5 billion in 2021 to $112.1 billion by 2026.

An integrated BAS network creates numerous advantages for facilities owners and managers and the people who live, work, or play in the building. Below we explore these advantages and explain how Allied Telesis networking solutions help to realize the benefits:

Improves a building’s efficiency

A BAS enables facilities managers to manage the underlying infrastructure and connected systems better. The central network controller can communicate with all connected devices, getting quick updates or alerts about current or potential failures. Operators can leverage data about failures and other operational metrics to improve the building’s operational effectiveness and simplify maintenance of all its systems.

The data communication network is itself a building system, and having relevant network status information on demand can help identify issues early and eliminate troublesome downtime. Therefore, network reliability is critical since many building and business systems depend on non-stop connectivity. Fault tolerance and the ability to self-heal are essential features of a smart building’s network and Allied Telesis switches. With multiple layers of fault tolerance, they offer resiliency and protection from events that can affect network stability. Their powerful built-in debugging tools also enable rapid problem identification and easy troubleshooting to prevent minor issues from becoming major outages.

Automation helps save money

An automated, responsive BAS makes it easy to control temperature, humidity, water levels, energy usage, and other aspects of the building. Managers can set specific start and end times for the building’s normal HVAC levels based on occupancy. If the number of occupants is low, the system can reduce ventilation levels to reduce energy usage and costs.

An integrated BAS infrastructure also helps optimize the use of devices and eliminates duplicate costs. For instance, a data network can enable connectivity for workers, but it can also connect the sensors and other devices that provide data for the BAS itself. Such a “converged network” utilizes the same equipment for more than one purpose, increasing ROI and reducing operational costs.

Automation can also be applied to the data network to reduce time, cost, and the risk of human errors during maintenance, upgrades, and other regular tasks. A central computer controls a software-defined network (SDN) to enable the network to respond instantly to meet the building’s needs. For example, network devices can automatically power down to reduce energy consumption or increase capacity if occupancy levels are high. Allied Telesis switches are ideal for these applications because they have automation features and SDN capabilities.

Improves building safety and occupant comfort

Sensors monitor and report environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Managers can view these levels on the user interface and make required adjustments to maintain optimum occupant comfort and safety levels.

When occupancy and CO2 levels are low, the BAS can minimize ventilation rates to save energy. Conversely, during high-occupancy periods, it can boost ventilation rates, improve indoor air quality, and ensure that occupants can breathe comfortably, be productive, and perform at their best.

The communication network must be agile enough to cater to the changing conditions within the building. Still, it must also allow the wide variety of devices and sensors to inter-operate to deliver the BAS all the information it needs to make the best decisions. Therefore, a fault-tolerant, standards-based IP network is a prerequisite for any smart building to enable seamless and reliable BAS operation under all conditions. Allied Telesis networking equipment is rigorously tested for reliability and independently certified for inter-operability by international standards organizations.

Reduces environmental impact

The BAS can change the environmental conditions inside the building based on occupancy levels. It thus ensures that all systems always run at their optimum, dynamically adjusted levels. Energy-efficient equipment that can dynamically reduce its power consumption based on usage should be used wherever possible—such as Allied Telesis eco-friendly switches.

The goal is to reduce the building’s overall energy use, lowering energy bills and reducing its carbon footprint and environmental impact.

Prevent issues that may impact human health and wellness

As an intelligent, data-powered system, a BAS can provide detailed insights into what’s happening in the building. Then, managers can apply this data—about mechanical failures, indoor air quality, temperatures, security threats, water problems, etc.—to make any necessary changes to the system.

They can also review real-time alerts related to indoor pollutants and ventilation levels and make corrections to ensure a comfortable environment. Most BAS can make adjustments automatically to avoid reaching harmful or critical levels.

Improve building and occupant safety

A BAS can integrate with the facility’s security system to identify threats and automate threat responses. These threats may come from a human—a thief or an intruder, for example—or they may have natural origins, such as floods or fires—or they may be cybersecurity threats to the building’s communications network.

For example, a motion sensor may flag an unusual activity in an unexpected area, such as an unoccupied parking lot. The BAS can intelligently review the alert and determine if it indicates the presence of an intruder. If so, it can initiate a predefined security response to protect the building and its occupants.

Cybersecurity threats can be more challenging to detect, but they too can damage the BAS and compromise the safety of the building and its occupants. Sophisticated security devices called firewalls can prevent cybersecurity threats from gaining access to the building network, but they are not a complete solution. Allied Telesis networks can boost the firewall’s capabilities to create a “self-defending network” capable of protecting itself from internal and external threats—ideal for the safety and integrity of the smart building.


Today’s buildings and their occupants have many needs, including more efficient energy management, low power consumption, and increased safety and security. Building Automation Systems provide streamlined, more efficient building control and management so that facilities managers can optimize the building and its resources to the best possible extent.

Have more questions about BAS, intelligent automation, and smart buildings? Contact Allied Telesis. We will help you learn more about BAS technologies, systems, and protocols that transform buildings into healthy environments for all occupants.

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