Choosing a Building Automation System that will benefit your church

September 12, 2017  •  Alayna Giesting

Those summer months are finally behind you, and you’re probably exhausted from holding vacation bible school, garage sales, various camps, Sunday services and more. Have you thought about how your buildings are holding up from working in overdrive for the past three months? Just like you, they need a break, too! While FMX can’t give you the vacation you deserve, we can offer insight into a solution for your buildings - a Building Automation System.

Well, what is a Building Automation System?

Simply put, a Building Automation System (BAS) is a brain that regulates the performance of your facilities’ systems including: heating and cooling, lighting, air ventilation, security, and even food storage. When equipment malfunctions or a building condition is outside of normal parameters (e.g. the temperature in a room becomes extremely high), a BAS will trigger an alert. When the BAS operates correctly, it leads to cost and energy savings.

How FMX can help: FMX’s scheduling module allows users to specify when, and in which room, they will be holding certain events. FMX also features a turn-key integration with Building Automation Systems. The BAS receives information from FMX about when a room is scheduled to be occupied and turns on and off the HVAC and lights.

How can a Building Automation System benefit my church?

To start, church facilities are not occupied 100% of the time, but a lot of them run like they are. HVAC systems are the largest energy consumers in congregational buildings. Imagine how much money and energy you would save if these systems didn’t need to run all the time to keep your facilities comfortable. A BAS will be able to detect when the heating, cooling and air-handling units need to be used and when they can take a break. The money you save can then be used to fund other things your congregation may need.

For instance, Broadmoor Baptist Church integrated FMX with their Building Automation System and is saving an average of $5,500 a month in utilities. Prior to this integration, the church had a staff member who manually turned their systems on and off depending on the event and activity schedule. Now, they are able to automatically turn their lighting and HVAC systems on and off in accordance with their event schedule in FMX.

There’s nothing better than saving money each month! But there are other perks of integrating a BAS into your facilities. For one, it increases the comfort in your church. With all the activities that occur each day, it’s important that your staff and congregation feel relaxed and comfortable the entire duration of their stay. The last thing they want is to be sweating in an 85-degree church on Sunday morning!

In addition, it reduces your environmental footprint. Now, more than ever, churches are looking into reducing their energy usage in order to protect the environment. For instance, Riverside Church in New York City recently upgraded its technology in order to decrease energy expenses, provide a more pleasant space for its members, and care for the planet’s resources. Many other churches are heading toward a similar path.

Choosing the best Building Automation System for me

You’ll enjoy the perks of Building Automation in no time, but before you get your mind set on a BAS, use these tips to make sure it’s the right one for you.

Make sure you get an open system (BACnet preferred)

For a long time, BAS’s were closed systems, meaning the infrastructure (i.e. terminal controllers, AHU controllers, etc.) of the system could only communicate with other controllers from that same manufacturer. Recently, as open systems become more available, BAS infrastructures have the ability to communicate with infrastructure from other manufacturers.

The advantage of open systems is that you can add automation to other equipment and building systems over time without being forced to stay with the same manufacturer. You can also pick and choose the best BAS infrastructure for each piece of equipment: for example, Manufacturer A might make the best BAS infrastructure for your HVAC system but Manufacturer B might be best for your Radon monitoring. When looking for an open system, we recommend looking for one that communicates using the BACnet protocol.

Go with a simple user interface

Simple in no way means the BAS is less capable of doing what you need it to do. It just means that your entire team will be able to use it effectively. The primary skill set of your maintenance/facilities team is to fix and maintain physical equipment, not to deal with computer systems. If the technical complexity of your BAS is too great, your maintenance team won’t use it. So, do your research and make sure that 1) the BAS is able to effectively regulate the performance of your church facilities and 2) its interface is usable by your entire team.

How FMX can help

FMX’s REST API allows us to integrate with Building Automation Systems, and our Customer Success team is able to help set up this integration for you. With FMX you can:

  • Allow staff and community to schedule events in FMX and automatically call on HVAC, lighting, and other equipment without granting access to the BAS.
  • Set up your system so that when alarms are triggered because of faulty equipment / conditions, it can be communicated to FMX and then assigned to someone via the Maintenance Module.
  • Track comments, costs, and labor hours for BAS alarms
  • Schedule preventive maintenance based on actual equipment runtime

And more!

Several FMX customers work with our partner, Dynamix Energy Services. Dynamix is a full-service, vendor-neutral energy services company that focuses on implementing and installing creative, well-engineered solutions, including Building Automation Systems.

Alayna is the marketing communications specialist at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not drafting up content for the blog or social media, she is most likely reading a good book or taking short weekend trips!

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