• Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:

Technology of Intelligent Building Management Systems

Table of Contents


Definitions of Intelligent Building….…………………………………….03

Technology of IBMS………………………………………………………05

Security Managers Considerations of IBMS……………………………..05



Innovative technology is increasingly used in buildings especially in development of sustainable high rise buildings. Computer technologies as well as automated systems are currently commonly used to achieve sustainable functioning of high rise buildings. Indeed, intelligent building management systems (IBMS) are utilised to manage operations in various parts of the buildings systems that include elevators, security, communication and fire protection. Energy conservation has become an important issue all over the world. Modern building and design concepts significantly emphasise efficiency of energy consumption. In BMS, energy management and control system is responsible for ensuring that energy is sustainably and efficiency used in the building. This has popularised the use of IBMSs in designing and constructing today’s facilities. This essay discusses the technology of IBMSs and security manager’s considerations of IBMSs.

Definitions of Intelligent Building

Intelligent building has been defined slightly different in various societies due to the reasons listed above. IB is considered by American Intelligent Building Institute (AIBI) as a building that possesses the best structure, operation, and service (Wen et al., 2009). Moreover, IB is a building that has inter-related systems and has capability to generate high functionality, high efficiency, and the best living comfort (Wen et al., 2009). In Japan, IB is a thought as any building that is highly functional and allows the latest information and technologies to be conveniently and efficiently used. Through the use of automation technology, it is possible to achieve a building management that is highly integrated. Japanese reckons that an IB should be able to provide reliability, functionality, security, and safety to both its owners and occupants (We et al., 2009). In Singapore, a building should have the following characteristics in order to be considered as an IB. A building should have environmental control systems, security systems, and fire alarm and extinguishing systems that are automated. Furthermore, a facility should automatically adjust its temperature, humidity, and lighting systems to be considered as IB by Singaporeans. The building should also be able to accommodate sufficient facilities and capability to have external communications system within the building. Lastly, quality communications and networking facilities that is capable of enabling installation of digital communications is a feature that should be present in order to term a building an IB in Singapore. In sum, an IB is a building that has an integrated system controlling all the functions within a building including its security, lighting, elevators, and fire and safety systems (Brooks, 2011). Based on the above characteristics and definitions of IB in different societies, common features of IB can be identified.

Technology of IBMS

Intelligent BMS is relatively new concept that is mostly utilised in high rise buildings. Several concepts and designs have been used in development of buildings before this innovative technology in 2010. Conventional building is a type of building system that was used until 1980s. It had few integrated systems and its systems were mostly analogue (Kellert, 2005). Moreover, conventional buildings had stand alone security systems, light system and fire safety systems. From 1991-1990, automated buildings began to be developed. It utilised some form of technology in mini computers that brought some new sense of capabilities absent in conventional building. Due to security and integrity concerns in automated buildings, responsive buildings were introduced in1991. Developers realised that technology alone was not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of tenants. In fact, responsive building was developed as a result of increased need for change in regard to how buildings were designed. The concept of building life cycle was introduced in this period. Time was allocated when various services in the building need to be replaced including mechanical, electrical and internal settings services. In construction of buildings, the time needed to replace these services was taken into account. Effective building is a third generation of building phases. The goal of effective building is not technology but the needs of occupants. Intelligent building (IB) represent modern day building concept that heavily relies on technological innovations. Indeed, IBMSs is increasingly used in today’s facilities.

All over the world, intelligent buildings are increasingly becoming a common phenomenon in the construction industry. However, development of intelligent buildings may vary in different countries due differences regarding climatic, ethnicity, habit of users, and management style of buildings (Wen, Hsiao & Chen, 2009). It is for this reason that there is no universal definition of intelligent building. It may also due to the fact that contents of IB is comprised of several issues that sometimes vary with different needs of the business owners and tenants that will occupy the buildings. Additionally, a clear definition of intelligent buildings is even made more difficult because technologies on automation facilities, information, and telecommunications are changing very fast.

There are different characteristics that are common in all IBs all over the world. Intelligent buildings involve building wide automatic control of different systems as well as services. It also includes monitoring, maintenance and management of these systems and services. Integration is among the main features of intelligent buildings (Wang, 2010). Control and management functions are integrated in modern intelligent building systems while system integration acts as its foundation or basis. Additionally, an IB has building automation system that is installed in the building and the surrounding environment of a building. An IB has enough building spaces and facilities that are used to build automation system. Moreover, it has a management system utilised for building operation.

Intelligent buildings are becoming common in construction and building industry due to its advantages. When a building project is developed and implemented using IB approach, the result is a building that is capable of facilitating change due to its flexibility and adaptability (Langston & Lauge-Kristensen, 2002). To an organisation, IB provide flexibility in terms of creating office space and storage area and enables reconfiguration of computer connections and adjustment of other support systems for purposes of meeting the needs of limited time and space. Arguably, the greatest benefit of an IB is its design strategies that allow support infrastructure that will accommodate future technologies to be developed (Alexander, 2004). In most of the buildings that were constructed before advent of IB strategies, it is difficult to install the latest security systems in these buildings due to incompatibility and lack of space to install them. However, most facilities possess sufficient existing wiring that can enable implementation of most technologies. Integration of new monitoring and control technology can be carried out in old buildings if the building already has building operating equipment and systems.

The current infrastructural technology and systems in IB maximizes technological investment especially in information systems. IBs provide optimal environments for tenants (Clements-Croome, 2014). Operating costs is perhaps the most attractive benefit of IB since half of its lifetime costs goes to operations. Indeed, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems are operated at limited areas that are occupied while they are monitored when they are not used. Consumption of energy is therefore significantly reduced. Network of sensors that monitor the building and how its equipment functions is a common feature of IBs. This reduces the need of on-site individuals to monitor the building and its operations. Sensors are installed in IB for purposes of dialling contractors, owner of the building or off-site maintenance when a malfunction is detected (Langston & Lauge-Kristensen, 2002). In some cases, the problem in a building may be corrected through a phone conversation.

The approach of IB is to have one contractor installing wire for all the systems on a similar infrastructure. In this case, less cable is needed (Clements-Croome, 2014). This approach ensures that unavoidable mess in the wiring closet is realised since many layers of wires that are connected, pulled, disconnected and reconnected because of technological changes and people moving away does not occur in this situation. As a result, optimization of architectural infrastructure is achieved as well as efficient use of labour. Typically, the core of IB is building management that centres on (HVAC) because it is distributed in the entire building and linking it to other systems can be carried out easily (Langston & Lauge-Kristensen, 2002). Indeed, easier linkage is made possible by using variable frequency driving motors as well as other controllable components directly linking them to the building management system. Although electronic components that include wiring, monitoring and telecommunications are often associated with smart buildings, the overall infrastructure of an IB can include smarter HVAC monitoring (Langston & Lauge-Kristensen, 2002). This enables the building to be operated more efficiently.

The systems of an IB can either be user operations dedicated (voice, video and data) or mainly focus on building operations (security control, fire safety, lighting control, environmental controls and monitoring of power). Integration can be carried out by merging all the systems. In this case, wiring infrastructure, command protocol among others are the same. Integration can also be systems interoperability where systems operate independently through unique wiring foundation, reliance on different command hierarchies and use proprietary protocols but they are sharing data input from sensors (Langston & Lauge-Kristensen, 2002). Information on IB systems can be exchanged through a dedicated backbone or existing infrastructural data and voice cable can also be utilised. Heavy traffic periods, interference and collisions are communication problems can be minimised through provision of dedicated cable. However, installation costs are increased by this approach (Langston & Lauge-Kristensen, 2002). In-house personnel are needed for maintenance of communication loop. A more flexible network that is easily modifiable in order to support changes in the use of building is achieved when single integrated system is supported by common communication backbone.

IB represents modern facility that utilise the current technological and innovative strategies in its designing and development. IB management system is a common feature of today’s sustainable high rise buildings because of its enormous benefits to the owner and occupants of the building. However, there are various vulnerabilities associated with IB. Indeed, IBs are suffering from generic vulnerabilities (Brooks, 2011). Facilities that have high levels of threat exposure will lead to an IB that is significantly exposed to threat. Generally, there should be strong security measures in any place that utilises great degree of technology in most of its systems. IBs are vulnerable to unauthorised physical access to the workstation by people who have ill motives. They can reconfigure the systems or install malicious codes hence compromising the functioning of an intelligent building which may lead to severe consequences. Wire-tapping can also be carried out by an attacker if he or she had physical access to any part of the Ethernet cable although it may be difficult but not impossible (Antonini, Barenghi & Pelosi, 2013). Data extraction can thus be the resultant effect of this vulnerability.

In designing today’s buildings, building automation systems are increasing becoming more relevant (Gellers, 2014). As a result, there are some potential security implications associated with the use of this type of building technology. IB is a highly integrated building with most of its internal and external systems connected with the web. This presents avenues where unauthorised individuals can access BAS of the building and tamper with them compromising the lives of those using the building. For instance, the ventilation rate of a building can be inappropriately changed hence negatively affecting the health of occupants. Moreover, the settings in the devices running the building may be adjusted beyond the set or reasonable limits potentially damaging the systems in the building or the building itself (Gellers, 2014). However, the likely risks that can occur due to the use of BASs in modern IBs can be dealt with by utilising some strategies. Implementation of several technological safeguards such as intrusion detection systems and secure communication utilities should be undertaken by the building operators (Ten, Govindarasu, & Liu, 2007). For purposes of maintaining the level of service that is acceptable by the building occupants, development of contingency plans by the owners of the building should be put in place. These emergency plans should be capable of being executed in case normal functionality in BAS is disrupted (Fisk, 2012).

Security Managers Considerations of IBMS

In designing buildings in this era of advanced technological inventions, security managers should consider a number of factors. Specifically, security managers should take into account some issues when dealing with intelligent building management systems. Security managers continue to gain numerous benefits from IB. However, skills of security managers of intelligent building management system (IBMS) also need to evolve in order to adapt and meet numerous challenges associated with this technological innovation. Today, IBMS are capable of anticipating the needs of occupants and automatically set environmental controls such as heating and lighting with no direct intervention from security managers (Santamouris, 2013). Factors that security managers should consider in designing and developing intelligent building management systems include information; ownership of services in development of an IB; maintenance of building; and security managers should could how to mitigate potential failures of an IB.

In development of IBs, information is very important. Indeed, information is a powerful tool that can significantly affect feasibility of the entire building and its future status (Wong & Wang, 2005). Security managers are in a better position to plan for the future when they fully understand the performance of buildings they are in charge. Information on operational and maintenance costs of IBMSs should be available to enable security managers consider them and assist them in making informed decisions. Existing buildings can be retrofitted in order to provide them with IB credentials (Menassa, 2011). However, the real benefits are realised when consideration of IB principles are undertaken at the planning and design stage in development of new constructions. In this case, future technological innovations can be easily embedded into an old building because of the available space and logistics.

Operational and cost-saving efficiencies provided by IBs are increasingly becoming clearer to construction companies, landlords and occupants of buildings. Nonetheless, there are still various factors that hinder wide scale adoption of IBs (Ma, Cooper, Daly, & Ledo, 2012). The mixed motivations or competition within the project is often a serious issue that security managers supervising IBMS need to deal with. For instance, information technology personnel typically focus on delivering access to network and systems to the building while operations department concentrate on the buildings’ physical elements that include lighting, power, access and security. Silos are often created from this single ownership of services hence difficulty in joining up elements needed to ensure that the goals and objectives of owners of the building and its occupants are achieved.

Due to technological advancements, buildings are able to be used for a very long time. Today, the lifespan of a building is between 50 and 100 years (Bromann, 2016). On the other hand, digital technological changes occur rapidly in a span of 2 and 5 year cycle. Security managers should therefore consider how the building will be maintained. They should know how the systems will be regularly serviced. Moreover, security managers in charge of IBMSs are tasked with a duty of providing a platform where components in a system can be accessed, removed and replaced after their useful life is attained. There should consider how this function will be carried out. In addition, the special features of some systems that have been installed or are considered to be installed in the future should be taken into account by security managers. This is because new and innovative systems have some special features which can only be serviced and replaced by the original manufacturer. This becomes costly with time hence increasing maintenance costs of the building resulting in loss of competitive edge and profits. Security managers should therefore consider availability of IBMSs spare parts and their functionalities regarding future replacements.

Intelligent buildings in most cases represent or mean presence of more integrated systems. Failure of these systems can lead to severe effects within the building (Pearson, 2007). Security managers should consider the way potential failures can be mitigated within the premises. Integrated systems are continually pitched with new systems and adopted in modern buildings. Nonetheless, extra vigilance should be observed by security managers before they can accept such systems (Pearson, 2007). This is because these systems can fail even if the best maintenance structure is in place. Indeed, failed systems have serious repercussions ranging from leaving the building unusable to inflicting injuries or even deaths to occupants. IBMS security managers should therefore ensure that their maintenance teams are fully aware of the system functionalities. Moreover, these personnel should have proper training to conduct maintenance of the system as planned and in reactive circumstances. In case it is possible, open-protocol system should be selected in advance (Clements-Croome, 2014). Additionally, security managers should ensure that there is always a good working relationship with the suppliers of systems used in designing IB because of its significant importance to maintenance of IBMSs.

From the perspective of security managers, management and maintenance of modern buildings incorporated with IBMSs are increasingly and rapidly becoming machines occupied by people. This means that future development of security management of IBMS needs to be expanded for purposes of accommodating large amounts of data interpretation. This is despite the fact the current common components of intelligent building management systems are active environmental controls and automation (Clements-Croome, 2014). In sum, creating a truly intelligent building ideally require its development to be carried out from its inception or the planning stage. In order to have a successful intelligent building, integration of operations and information technology departments should be undertaken since they are responsible for IB systems. At the end of integration process, value of the entire system can be seen clearly by owner of the building and occupants or tenants. It is therefore applied to ensure that its inherent value is gained.


Traditionally, the main reason for building commercial, residential and institutional facilities were to offer basic services that met generalized, minimal codes and standards in place. On the other hand, IB is a building that is flexible and adaptable by helping its users achieve their goals and support functions of the occupants. In designing an IB, a holistic approach is required involving technology designers from the beginning. These technology designers include personnel responsible for installation of information systems, security systems and building automation systems. Creation of IB involves combination of technology and innovative design strategies (Langston & Lauge-Kristensen, 2002). IB infrastructure is programmed by taking into consideration the objectives of its owner and occupants of the building. Moreover, needs of both the owner and tenants regarding IB and user operations are factored in when developing an IB.


Alexander, K. (2004). Facilities management: Innovation and performance. New York: Spon Press.

Al-Kodmany, K. (2015). Eco-towers: Sustainable cities in the sky. Southampton : WIT Press.

Antonini, A., Barenghi, A., & Pelosi, G. (2013). Security Analysis of Building Automation Networks. In Secure IT Systems (pp. 199-214). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Bromann, M. (2016). Fire protection for commercial facilities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Brooks, D. J. (2011). Intelligent buildings: an investigation into current and emerging security vulnerabilities in automated building systems using an applied defeat methodology. Proceedings of the 4th Australian Security and Intelligence Conference, Edith Cowan University, Perth Western Australia, 5th -7th December, 2011 (pp. 16-26). Perth: Security Research Institute Conferences.

Clements-Croome, D. (2014). Intelligent Buildings: An introduction. New York: Routledge.

Fisk, D. (2012). Cyber security, building automation, and the intelligent building. Intelligent Buildings International, 4(3), 169-181.

Gellers, J. (2014). Building Automation Systems: Addressing Vulnerabilities through Best Practices for Green Builders. [online] Available:

Keding., L. (2013). An Optimization of Intelligent Fire Alarm System for High-Rise Building Based on ANASYS, In Du, Z (Eds.) Intelligence computation and evolutionary computation: Results of 2012 International Conference of Intelligence Computation and Evolutionary Computation ICEC 2012 held July 7, 2012 in Wuhan, China (pp. 415-421). Berlin: Springer.

Kellert, S. R. (2005). Building for life: Designing and understanding the human-nature connection. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Langston, C. A., & Lauge-Kristensen, R. (2002). Strategic management of built facilities. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Ma, Z., Cooper, P., Daly, D., & Ledo, L. (2012). Existing building retrofits: Methodology and state-of-the-art. Energy and buildings, 55, 889-902.

Menassa, C. C. (2011). Evaluating sustainable retrofits in existing buildings under uncertainty. Energy and Buildings, 43(12), 3576-3583.

Peacock, M., & Johnstone, M. N. (2014). An analysis of security issues in building automation systems. in the Proceedings of the 12th Australian Information Security Management Conference. Held on the 1-3 December, 2014 at Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus, Perth, Western Australia. Perth: Security Research Institute Conferences.

Pearson, R. L. (2007). Electronic security systems: A manager’s guide to evaluating and selecting system solutions. Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Santamouris, M. (2006). Environmental design of urban buildings: An integrated approach. London: Earthscan.

So, A. T., & Chan, W. L. (1999). Intelligent building systems. Boston, MA: Springer US.

Ten, C. W., Govindarasu, M., & Liu, C. C. (2007). Cybersecurity for electric power control and automation systems. In Systems, Man and Cybernetics, 2007. ISIC. IEEE International Conference on
Systems, Man and Cybernetics (pp. 29-34). IEEE.

Wang, S. (2010). Intelligent buildings and building automation. London: Spon Press.

Wen, S., Hsiao, C., & Chen., C. (2009). INTELLIGENT BUILDINGS, In Haghighat, F& Kim, J.-J, Sustainable Built Environment (p. 209-225). Oxford: Eolss Publishers.

Wong, J. K., Li, H., & Wang, S. W. (2005). Intelligent building research: a review. Automation in construction, 14(1), 143-159.