Virginia Tech gets nearly $2 million for BAS Improvement

March 04, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

The Energy Department has awarded the Virginia Polytechnic and State University Advanced Research Institute nearly $2 million to continue research and development of its Building Energy Management Open Source Software (BEMOSS) for small and medium-sized commercial buildings. Currently, small and medium buildings make up over 95% of the floor space and about 50% of the energy consumed by commercial buildings in the U.S. each year. Most commercial buildings in the U.S. are small (less than 5,000 square feet) or medium-sized (between 5,000-50,000 square feet), and fall outside the scope of most commercial buildings automation systems (BAS).

The goal of this project is to develop an Open Source Solution (similar to Firefox, OpenOffice, or Ubuntu, for example) as a backbone for improving BAS systems, allowing for major building components to interconnect with each other. This includes HVAC, lighting, water heater, and significant ancillary loads. More interconnection among the systems will lead to improved occupant comfort, while reducing energy use and the cost of building ownership and operation.

Virginia Tech is incorporating input from industry to develop the automated building control system that building owners and operators can easily monitor and control from a tablet, smartphone or computer. Another goal of the project is to dramatically reduce the cost of installing and maintaining the system.

The system also offers scalability, robustness, plug and play, open protocol, interoperability, cost-effectiveness, as well as local and remote monitoring. This allows it to work with load control devices from different manufacturers that operate on different communication technologies and protocols. As a result, building components can work together more efficiently, reducing electricity use. Occupant comfort is enhanced because the system can more effectively adjust HVAC and lighting to account for changes in a building's temperature and lighting levels during the day.