Building automation – Everything you need to know

Building automation (BAM) is a subarea of supply engineering and is at the same time one of the most important components of technical energy management.

The building technology in a building is viewed holistically and monitored, controlled and regulated via a building automation system. In this way, a network of sensors, actuators, control elements and other building technology is created and controlled in dependence on each other with the help of special programming.

Why would that actually be necessary? Aren’t smart components with high energy efficiency already installed?

Yes, that’s right, and this is already generating savings. However, a building only becomes truly efficient when all the individual components are optimally controlled in interaction with each other.

Such a building with integrated building automation system is therefore called a smart building.

Which trades can be integrated into a building automation system?

Normally, the trades ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, heating & shading are integrated. However, it is also possible to include other installed building technology in the building automation.

Furthermore, a building automation system helps to cover services such as consumption metering, load management, access control, remote maintenance or consumption optimization.

What are the three levels of building automation?

At the very top is the management level. There is the building control system (BMS), where the building data is collected, visualized and monitored. Building operation can also be continuously optimized with the help of BMS. Accordingly, the operating functions of the building automation system can also be found here.

The automation level connects the field level and the management level. In this level the information about the connected building technology is collected. This means the data from the field level but also the data for control and regulation from the management level. This data is exchanged and processed between the DDCs at the automation level. Proprietary bus systems are still primarily used for this purpose today.

The field level deals with the cabling of the field devices (actuators, sensors) with the DDC-GA components. At this level, the building technology is operated by the sensors and actuators

The sensors collect information such as brightness and send it to the actuators via bus systems. There, this information is converted into control signals, e.g. for the lighting.

What are the advantages of building automation?

Building automation has many advantages to offer. We will explain these in more detail in this section.

Energy efficiency is increased

The building stock accounts for a full 40% of energy consumption in the EU. To combat climate change, energy efficiency measures in residential and commercial buildings must become an important component.

A building automation system is an essential tool for making buildings more energy efficient and minimizing energy consumption. This system controls the building technology systems installed in the building in an energy-efficient manner in dependence on one another, thus ensuring long-term resource-saving operation. In the end, the environment benefits and the operator, which can save costs.

The comfort is maximized

A GA provides significantly more comfort. Workers in a building equipped with building automation, find optimal room conditions in their work area. This increases the well-being and motivation. Workers can focus fully on their work and are relieved of manual control.

The monitoring and operation of the building technology by the BMS also relieves the employees, because adjustments can be made from the central location. A GA thus ensures simplified work processes and time savings for the respective employees and also supports them in the context of technical building management.

A safe building

Because the building technology can be centrally monitored and controlled via the BMS and an alarm management system with forwarding can indicate problems and faults, building operation becomes much safer. This is because the responsible employees always have an eye on the condition of the building technology and can quickly take action and rectify any problems that arise.

How much energy does building automation save?

A fully automated office building (automation class A) saves 30 % thermal energy and 13 % electricity compared to a less automated reference building (automation class C). These values are taken from the DIN V 18599-11 and EN 15232 standards. Biberach University of Applied Sciences even achieved energy savings of 49% in a two-year practical study.

However, these are only approximate values, because the savings depend, of course, on the project and building. Building automation is a cross-sectional technology that networks all energy-intensive systems in the building. Because there are so many systems in play, there are many adjusting screws.

Where is building automation used?

Building automation is interesting for many industries. No matter whether administration, gastronomy, hotel industry, health care, public institution etc..

Depending on the industry and type of building, very specific requirements must be taken into account when designing and implementing a solution.

Are there standards or legal guidelines for building automation?

Yes there is. The Technical Building Equipment Division of the Association of German Engineers has prepared the guideline VDI 3814. Even though VDI 3814 is a recommendation, experts often base their assessment on it in the event of damage. Structured in sheets, VDI 3814 deals with the current state of the art in the planning and execution of a building automation system.

Furthermore, the international DIN standard ISO16484 deals with the subject of building automation and the associated control systems and control systems. ISO 16484 originally comprised seven parts, two of which are currently withdrawn or under revision.

Examples of building automation in practice

Finally, we would like to give you some examples of functions within a building automation system.


A lighting can be controlled by motion, demand or time of day / season.

With motion control, for example, the light goes on when you enter a room or off when you leave the room.

For example, in a demand-based control system using brightness sensors, the light intensity, outdoor light intensity and indoor light intensity are measured. With the help of the measured values, the brightness of the light in the room is controlled so that the optimal lighting conditions prevail and the best working conditions are created.

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC)

Heating, ventilation and climate can also be regulated with the help of building automation. In addition to occupancy times of the rooms, the outdoor temperature (via temperature sensors) and other factors are also taken into account during control.