Building automation: Can you see the light?

Report from IMS Research forecasts the increasing integration of building automation and lighting control systems.


The IMS Research (recently acquired by IHS Inc.) report titled The EMEA and Americas Markets for Integrating Smart Building Systems – A Quantitative Market Analysis – 2012 Edition, found in 2011, an average of 25% of the installed building automation systems in the Americas and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) were integrated with lighting control systems. The report forecasts this will increase to an average of 35% in both the Americas and EMEA by 2016.

Regarding building automation installations, solutions almost always start with environmental or HVAC-R (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration) control as the first priority. For many buildings HVAC-R is one of the largest consumers of energy and is often seen as one of the simplest systems to control and automate.

William Rhodes, senior market analyst at IMS Research, commented, “Lighting control and building automation use similar control logic and have similar control system architectures. Both systems can use the same sensors to measure room or building occupancy. The combination of the two systems can often lead to increased energy efficiencies and the benefits of integrating the two systems can be easily explained to customers.”

However, not all installers have the knowledge and expertise to install these more complex integrated solutions. Despite the benefits from integrating building automation and lighting control systems; traditionally, integrating more complex systems has only been the remit of ‘super integrators.’ These integrators have a robust understanding of multiple system types and strong IT networking knowledge. ‘Traditional integrators’ often have a good understanding of one building system but may lack wider IT knowledge.

Rhodes continued, “As more complex systems gain increasing mainstream appreciation in the industry, some observers argue ‘traditional integrators’ are starting to lose business to ‘super integrators’ when a building owner or management company wants to integrate across building systems. It is likely that if interest in integrated and intelligent buildings continuous to grow, ‘traditional integrators’ will have to overcome their knowledge gaps to remain in business.”

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