Data has had an elevated role in building management since the era of the Internet of Things began. University building managers have always been tasked with keeping campus facilities running in a cost-efficient and safe manner that is conducive to the learning environments of higher education. What was once a largely manual process of ‘tending to the farm’ is now handled with robust arrays of sensors that feed data into complex building automation and building analytics software.
The modern universal BACnet protocol is the current gold standard in building automation, keeping things simple and streamlined for facilities managers and technicians. However, if your campus features a legacy system composed of older protocols like Modbus and Lonworks, you may be juggling multiple systems, log-ins, and headaches throughout the day.
When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan on March 11, 2021, it launched a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus, including $130 billion in stimulus money for schools in the pre-K through 12th grade age group. The intention of this new school stimulus money—called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund—is to help schools safely reopen within 100 days and take actions to help protect students, staff, and families from COVID-19.
The American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law by President Biden in March 2021, has set a priority of reopening as many K-12 schools as possible within its 100 days. As of the writing of this article, we’re a little more than a third of the way through that timeline. Facilities managers are ramping into high gear getting many buildings that have been shut down for a year or more ready for people to resume daily occupancy. Here are a few quick tips to guide your planning process as you start laying out your school building safety and school facilities management strategies.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) went into effect on December 27, 2020. This 5,600-page, $900B bill included $82B specifically set aside for education. Of that money, $52B will go straight to K-12 schools (about four times as much as the $13.5B allocated by the CARES Act in March of 2020).
Building management software (BMS) and building automation systems (BAS) will sometimes come packaged with an optional, limited style of mobile access through a building management app. However, when these applications require you to be connected to the building network to access the system, this is not really “remote” access so much as the option to use a phone or tablet while on site.
Building Automation Software (BAS) can be remarkably complex. Depending on the size of the facility, you may have tens or even hundreds of unique lighting, electrical, heat, cooling, ventilation, IAQ sensor, and other devices to monitor and control.
There are a ton of facility management apps out there to choose from, but the differences in their capabilities can be vast. Many that claim to offer “remote” access, for example, actually mean that you can access the system using proprietary facilities management mobile apps—but must still be on the local network for your BAS, which generally means being on-site. A truly remote option, like ODIN, would function from anywhere. Here are seven questions to ask as you compare your options.
Smart homes—and the automated technology they helped make popular—entered the scene in the tail-end of the 1990s and found their foothold in the early 2000s. The prospect of a home autonomously managing lighting, heating, and other actions seemed right out of a movie, and it was only a matter of time before those smart technology solutions found a home in other environments.
Automation professionals and engineers have a challenging, but crucial, role to play in the future of building management. It’s ultimately their responsibility to find new and intuitive ways to utilize technology in the continued maintenance, management, and evolution of the buildings under their care.