The BMS as part of an intelligent building

Published:  24 July, 2005

Andy Haynes
The BMS must be part of the design specification for an intelligent building — Andy Haynes

Building-management systems are the key to capitalising on investment in intelligent buildings says ANDY HAYNES.

When we talk about the intelligent building, there is almost a tacit acceptance that the building contains a building-management system. There is a good reason for this, and it is that the building-controls industry has been at the forefront of driving forward the concept of the intelligent building.

The BMS is often seen as the neural network which allows the core service functions within the building to perform accurately, effectively and efficiently. Whilst this is true to a certain extent, it is also a very services-centric view. This is because an intelligent building can be measured in a whole wealth of different dimensions which, when integrated correctly through the design, construction and management processes add real value to the investment in the building.

These various dimensions can be described in four broad-brush groups: services; IT; structure and space. For the building to be efficient and successful, each of these elements must work sensibly with the others to meet the client’s needs to maximum effect. This requires a holistic perspective from not only the client but also from the building professionals involved in the design, construction and management of the building.


Easier said than done? The experience of many building-services professionals may well suggest that this is the case. But what we are beginning to see now is more awareness by the client side of the building industry of the benefits of added investment in the early stages of the building design and procurement process.

Clients are relying far less on architects and cost consultants to guide them towards a building specification. They now seek buildings which will perform to meet their needs, and they recognise that the best way to get these buildings is through the holistic view espoused by those involved in intelligent buildings.

Intelligent clients are now setting the terms on which their intelligent buildings will be delivered. Developments are being led by those who are investing the building. Clients require flexibility, cost efficiency and, above all, return on investment. The technologies and systems used are simply a tool to achieve this. What investors absolutely need to do it to get the biggest bang for their buck, and this goal will form the basis of their investment strategy.

Taking an holistic view allows clients to call the shots in the design process, but it also obliges them to take a strong and active role to lead the design team in the right direction.

Innovative projects can be ruined by clients who, despite claiming that they know what they want, are so averse to any risk that they are unable to commit themselves to specifying a product or system that may be innovative or outside of the norm for a particular type of project.

This indecision inevitably leads to poorly planned, un-integrated and, ultimately, badly performing buildings. The presence of a strong client with a clear vision of what he wants to achieve and who is prepared to take tough decisions to get there is necessary to obtain the best intelligent building possible.

Work together

Following on from strong client leadership, it is essential that a project team charged with delivering an intelligent building to a client works together to ensure that the most appropriate solution is delivered. There is an absolute requirement for all professional disciplines to work together. Each profession must respect and encourage the others to work towards this. If this happens, building-services consultants can be seen as an equal to the architect, structural engineer and IT managers.

Neural network

Going back to the proposition that building services are the neural network for the building, a building design and procurement process led by an intelligent client will only emphasise this.

An intelligent building simply cannot function without a building management system. A BMS gives the building owner and user a level of information about the performance of the building that he cannot get as efficiently from any other source. With this information the user can manage the building effectively and maximise return on investment.

The use of the BMS maximises the return on the investment from all components of the building, including structure, space and information technology, so investment in a BMS should not be seen as an extra over and above the basic requirement. It should be as much a part of the design specification for an intelligent building as the walls and roof.

Andy Haynes is a consultant with i&i Ltd, Building 9, Bucknalls Lane, Garston, Watford WD25 9XX.



There is considerable momentum within the building industry pushing towards the adoption of holistic solutions. Leading building clients, designers, specifiers, contractors and suppliers will be meeting to develop ways of capitalising upon this momentum at ib2005, a 2-day conference and networking event for the intelligent-builldings industry being held on 19 and 20 October 2005 at BRE Watford. For more information please see the second web address below or call the team at i&i Ltd on tel. 01923 665950.

ib2005 follows on from ib2004, which took place in September 2004 and which brought together 150 of the world’s key strategic decision makers from the intelligent buildings community to learn, network and to develop strategies to move the market for intelligent buildings forward.

The event is sponsored by AMX, BRE, Echelon, Electrical Contractors Association, Honeywell Building Solutions; Satchwell Control Systems and Tridium. It is endorsed by BIFM, IEE, INTEGER Intelligent & Green and RealComm

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