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Building Automation Systems | The Benefits for Apartments

Building Automation Systems for Apartment Communities

Building automation systems (BAS) for apartment communities are becoming a regular part of construction for new apartments and increasingly being added to legacy apartments. Building automation systems have many advantages for property owners by creating ways to add property value to the community, adding amenities through smart technology that interacts with the building automation, and offering solutions for the property and residents to save money through scheduled and automated energy usage. 

Building automation systems can have complicated, complex solutions that reach many parts around a building. For apartment owners, we are going to focus on two aspects of automation: renewable energy and IoT. 

What is Building Automation? 

Building automation systems are a single controlling system that manages all aspects of an apartment's automation. In a large, complex form, it can manage everything like HVAC, electrical, plumbing, security and more. In an apartment setting, we’ll simplify it between the process of intaking energy, storing energy and consuming energy. 

According to an article in Big Rentz, when a building automation system is installed, guess work is out of the question and operational efficiency is maximized through 4 main contributions.

-Optimal Start: Machine learning helps a BAS identify the optimal time to begin powering on to reduce grid strain from peak load.

-Energy Storage: For buildings equipped with energy storage capacity, a BAS can monitor and release it back to the frid for others to use. 

-Legacy Upgrades: New features can be “plugged in” to older systems to avoid total system replacement and “future-proof” the BAS.

-Accurate Utility Billing: Facilities’ managers can use a BAS to track, report and bill utility charges to tenants in large residential buildings. 


How do Building automation systems work?

In our example, let’s break down the flow and use of energy in different forms from one particular renewable energy, solar, to storage use, then to consumption in different automated, smart technologies. 

First, intake. Solar energy is pretty straight forward. says, “When the sun shines onto a solar panel, energy from the sunlight is absorbed by the PV cells in the panel. This energy creates electrical charges that move in response to an internal electrical field in the cell, causing electricity to flow.”

Second is storage. After the solar energy is captured, it flows towards a battery. In an apartment community, the two main types of batteries sit inside a resident’s unit or a community space, or within an EV charging station. Obviously, one of these batteries is dedicated to charging up a car, and the other for energy use in a unit. 

Last is consumption. As mentioned before, the energy stored for an EV charging station is usually dedicated to just the charging station. On the other hand, an in-unit battery is dedicated to the single unit in a resident’s apartment. This in-unit battery services everything from the refrigerator, TV, lights and more. 

The whole process of automation is happening as the capture and usage of energy is happening. The automation system is doing a number of things such as automatically refilling hundreds batteries with new energy as the current energy is being used, calculating the amount of energy being used and reporting it to tool used by the property staff, and if there is a surplus of captured energy, the property is able to supply the local, regional power grid with extra energy to take strain off. 

On a personal level, there is additional automation that can happen in every unit. With the addition of IoT devices, residents can create HVAC schedules through a smart thermostat and access locks through an app on their phone. On the flip side, property staff also have access to these devices in vacant units to adjust the amount of energy being used, or have access control around the community. Automation on a macro property level down to automation on a micro in-unit level means maximum energy responsibility and savings with little to no effort. 


Benefits of building automations systems for apartments

Now, I’ve taken you through some practical and hopefully not too overwhelming technical definitions of how BAS can work in an apartment community. But, the benefits of how a BAS can improve the experience around an apartment community is where it really hits home. 

-Energy savings: Automation means property staff and residents can schedule times to use energy when they want to, and not use it when they don't want to. This is more control over times when someone is in their home versus when they’re away, instead of something like HVAC running constantly at one set temperature. On the other hand, the energy being used is coming from the sun, and the sun doesn’t charge you a premium or a recurring charge. Use the energy you are capturing and sell it back to the grid. Win-win.

-Take pressure off the grid: Since renewable energy is being captured and used, it is one less job for the power grid to keep up with. And just like I mentioned before, solar panels can easily create a surplus of energy that can be sold back to the power grid. 

-Operational Efficiency: Creating automated tasks in a leasing office means your property has more time to focus on the chaos around them. From their desk at a computer, leasing staff has full control over collected data, and management around their entire property.

-Added value-Installing Building Automation Systems around an apartment community creates an added value to the residents who live there, and to the overall value of the property.