Can Building Automation Systems Help Save Energy?

BAS manufacturers join to discuss energy-saving features for healthcare facilities.

By Jeff Wardon, Jr., Assistant Editor

Building automation systems (BAS) not only streamline processes, but they may benefit healthcare facilities when it comes to their energy consumption. In this manufacturer roundtable, Healthcare Facilities Today speaks with BAS manufacturers about what key energy-saving features and strategies BAS offers. 

What are some key energy-saving features and strategies that building automation systems offer when implemented in healthcare facilities? 

“Originally seen as mutually exclusive, BASs can now help manage occupant well-being and energy use simultaneously. When healthcare facilities implement BASs with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms, the algorithms build sophisticated models that reveal hidden energy consumption as they weigh conditions and demand against current occupancy, weather conditions and utility pricing. Managing energy use can be achieved by monitoring and adjusting HVAC. lighting and other systems based on occupancy levels. Conditioned exhaust can be very expensive, especially for spaces that require a high level of air exchange to keep the spaces sterile - spaces like operating suites, compounding pharmacies and catheter labs to name a few. Reducing air exchange when those spaces are unoccupied yet still maintaining pressure is a great target to help with energy management.” 

— Dave Rausch, business development manager, Phoenix Controls 

“Healthcare facilities are tricky because they are often occupied 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, and 365-days-a-year, so you cannot have a period when equipment is down. There are a few ways you can adjust your equipment to use occupancy-based strategies, monitoring motion in a space, using CO2 sensors to detect occupancy or manually scheduling equipment to save energy. 

Another way to save energy and improve efficiency that Johnson Controls utilizes is demand control ventilation. That is when a system is programed to bring in the exact amount of fresh air that is required, so that the system operates as efficiently as possible. This cuts down on the load that your HVAC equipment is bearing, which in turns optimizes the operational functionality of the equipment.” 

— Robert Harland, global product manager, Johnson Controls 

“Due to their around the clock operation, healthcare facilities are robust energy users, so energy-saving strategies that sustain and enhance safety are critical. 

Demand Control Ventilation and Air Quality Monitoring are two strategies that can have huge impacts on energy usage and patient and medical workforce safety. Air quality in critical spaces is typically maintained at safe levels through air changes, humidity levels and pressure relationships. The negative side effect of this related to energy is that we are exhausting air we spent energy to condition into the outside or bringing excessive outside air into the inside environment. Instead of relying on air changes to maintain safe spaces, we can actively monitor the air quality and ventilate only when necessary. This also allows us to know the actual composition of particulates in the space instead of assuming that the air changes are good enough, resulting in increased safety, less risk, reduced environmental impact and reduced costs.” 

— Cody Hampshire, head of building automation and smart buildings, Siemens Smart Infrastructure USA 

Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market 

October 6, 2023

Topic Area: Information Technology

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