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How building automation works and where to use it

In this short article we will see how building automation works and where to use it.

The science of building automation creates devices that automatically manage the systems of smart buildings.

For example, these systems can work with building automation:

  • lighting;
  • heating;
  • water management;
  • air conditioning and ventilation;
  • automatic gates and accesses;
  • audio and video;
  • and more.

The goal of building automation is to optimize the performance of buildings and improve the comfort and safety they offer.

The advantages produced by building automation certainly include energy efficiency and the consequent reduction in consumption and environmental impact.

The process

According to the definition given by Professor Alberto Servida of the University of Genoa, the process of building automation systems has the same levels of automation of many industrial processes.

To simplify the understanding of how building automation works, it is useful to imagine it as a pyramid on three levels.

The first level, at the basement of the system, consists of the hardware devices (for example sensors) that collect data and information on the systems, the way they work and the environments in which they operate (for example the ambient temperature).

At the second level we find the process control systems that connect and process the data and information coming from the first level.

The management systems (BMS or Building Management System) constitute the third level and the top of the pyramid. Their task is to coordinate the systems and make automation possible.

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Application sectors

Building automation is sometimes confused with home automation.

The two areas share the goal of improving the quality of life of people and must both meet the standards defined by the European certification UNI EN 15232. However, the application areas are different.

In fact, home automation uses innovation, advanced technologies and intelligent devices to manage the automations inside residential homes, transforming them into smart homes.

Instead, building automation is applied in smart buildings, where it is used to connect systems, networks (communication and IT) and public networks.

The main difference between home automation and building automation is that the latter are conceived for optimizing the performance of buildings not intended for residential use.

This definition includes many types of properties as:

  • banks;
  • offices;
  • schools;
  • hotels;
  • supermarkets;
  • factories;
  • condominiums.

In all these contexts, innovation and energy efficiency resulting from building automation contribute to the sustainability of the building itself.


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