A building management system (BMS), otherwise known as a building automation system (BAS), is a computer-based control system installed in buildings that controls and monitors the building’s mechanical and electrical equipment such as ventilation, lighting, power systems, fire systems, and security systems. A BMS consists of software and hardware; the software program, usually configured in a hierarchical manner, can be proprietary, using such protocols as C-Bus, Profibus, and so on. Vendors are also producing a BMS that integrates the use of Internet protocols and open standards such as DeviceNet, SOAP, XML, BACnet, LonWorks, Modbus or KNX.
Building management systems are most commonly implemented in large projects with extensive mechanical, HVAC, and electrical systems. Systems linked to a BMS typically represent 40% of a building’s energy usage; if lighting is included, this number approaches to 70%. BMS systems are a critical component to managing energy demand. Improperly configured BMS systems are believed to account for 20% of building energy usage, or approximately 8% of total energy usage in the United States.
In addition to controlling the building’s internal environment, BMS systems are sometimes linked to access control (turnstiles and access doors controlling who is allowed access and egress to the building) or other security systems such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) and motion detectors. Fire alarm systems and elevators are also sometimes linked to a BMS for monitoring. In case a fire is detected then only the fire alarm panel could close dampers in the ventilation system to stop smoke spreading, shut down air handlers, start smoke evacuation fans, and send all the elevators to the ground floor and park them to prevent people from using them.
Building management systems have also included disaster-response mechanisms (such as base isolation) to save structures from earthquakes. In more recent times, companies and governments have been working to find similar solutions for flood zones and coastal areas at-risk to rising sea levels. One such example is the SAFE Building System by Arx Pax Labs, Inc., which is designed to float buildings, roadways, and utilities in a few feet of water. The self-adjusting floating environment draws from existing technologies used to float concrete bridges and runways such as Washington’s SR 520 and Japan’s Mega-Float.
On November 11, 2019, a 132-page security research paper was released titled “I Own Your Building (Management System)” by Gjoko Krstic and Sipke Mellema that addressed more than 100 vulnerabilities affecting various BMS and access control solutions by various vendors.