Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS): the BEMS market in flux – evolutions and drivers

As described in our overview regarding the evolutions of the BMS system landscape in the age of hyper-connectivity, the movement towards the edge and the Internet of Things (IoT), there is a difference between Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) and building management systems.

At the same time the energy dimension in building automation and the building management systems market has become far more important again and green building regulations and certifications, ecological footprint, building energy efficiency and, in particular, energy legislation such as the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) in the EU, to name just one across the globe, are key drivers of the building management systems market.

In addition to increased customer education, the BEMSs market is being fueled by a few technology trends: the Internet of Things, and cloud and edge computing (Christina Jung, Navigant Research)

Or as another research report on the evolutions in the BMS market until 2023 put it: ‘The major factors that drive the market for building management systems are significant cost benefits, simplified building operations and maintenance, increasing demand for energy-efficient and eco-friendly buildings, and growing integration of IoT”. Visit the website of any BMS provider and you’ll see the focus on optimal energy, energy savings and smart energy management, almost as if it were a synonym of smart building management.

However, the BEMS market is in full evolution too. According to research by Navigant Research, announced on October 23rd, 2017, the global Building Energy Management Systems or BEMS market is looking at solid growth.

Energy management systems for buildings - building energy management system BEMS evolutions drivers and trends

Building Energy Management Systems: BEMS market research 2026

With a global revenue for Building Energy Management Systems of $4.0 billion in 2017 and a forecast for the BEMS market of over $13.1 billion by 2026 the picture indeed looks rosy.

Among the key drivers according to Navigant Research are several evolutions on the overall commercial building market level and technological trends.

  • On top of all the mentioned reasons (and others such as changing building tenant demand and peer pressure with regards to energy efficient and smart buildings) why energy is crucial, comes an ongoing evolution whereby the value of data in commercial buildings is an increasing focus and increased customer education on the value of Building Energy Management Systems as a market driver.
  • On a more technological level, Navigant Research cites the evolutions with regards to the combinations of software, services and/or hardware in meeting specific market demands and, how else could it be, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, and edge computing or fog computing.

Global BEMS market revenue is expected to grow from $4.0 billion in 2017 to $13.1 billion by 2026

An earlier announcement (also October 2017) from Navigant Research regarding spending on and drivers of the adoption of energy efficient building technologies in Europe alone shows a market of almost $112 Billion in 2026.

BEMS versus BMS in the age of IoT

One question that might remain is that of what exactly a BEMS is and how it is different from building management systems.

A BEMS traditionally is seen as being more than a BMS as you can read in this 2015 blog post of Mary Jane McCraven on “Better Sustainability with BEMS”. She mentions the definition of BEMS as “IT-based monitoring and control systems that tie into existing energy-related data streams of a building’s infrastructure, such as its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems, and provide visualization and analysis of that data to enable better energy-related decision-making.”

However, as mentioned the role of building management systems is evolving (and always has been evolving and continues to). The same goes for the landscape of Building Energy Management Solutions of course, again with IoT being a game changer.

Quoting from the announcement by Navigant Research: “BEMS solutions vary in levels of integration and functional complexity, and each offering is progressively more integrated and connected than its predecessor. Data collected and analyzed from building systems can be integrated into a larger enterprise system, which can inform IoT use cases such as occupancy data for space utilization, location data for behavior analytics in the retail sector, security and access control via smartphone applications, and more”.

Quite some overlaps with building management systems in evolution indeed and although the BEMS market is looking forward to a great future, as do the markets of intelligent building management and integrated building management solutions, it might be a matter of time before we stop distinguishing as in the end it’s the total building that will matter with BMS at the center.

And maybe the distinction of BMS versus BEMS will disappear. Here is one 2015 article on that distinction in which Building Management Systems are described as “integrated, computerised systems used to monitor and control a wide range of building systems, which might include fire, smoke detection and alarms, motion detectors, CCTV, security and access control, lifts and so on, as well as systems such as lighting and HVAC” while Building Energy Management Systems are described as “integrated, computerised systems used to monitor and control specific energy-related building services plant and equipment, which will typically include HVAC systems, lighting and power systems.”

What does the future hold for the BEMS in the world of ever more connected devices and systems?

BEMSs are anything but new. They have been serving facility management professionals who needed energy management solutions for different sorts of assets/equipment in different kind of contexts ever since the BEMS emerged.

As mentioned in our BMS overview, building management systems actually started their lives as building energy management systems. Yet, as Martin Feder put it in the above mentioned interview at a certain point in time the ‘E’ got dropped.

Back in 1997, the IEA described the BEMS as “an electrical control and monitoring system that has the ability to control monitoring points and an operator terminal. The system can have attributes from all facets of building control and management functions such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) to lighting, fire alarm system, security, maintenance and energy management”.

For organizations that want an overall view of energy efficiency in the building understanding the difference between a BMS and an EMS (Energy Management System) is of the utmost importance.

In the Spring of 2017, Debashish Chakraborty urged facility and operations teams to do so in a blog post. In his view the “job of a BMS is primarily to manage and control the building systems, especially HVAC, lighting, access control, etc., whereas the job of a EMS is to provide energy, demand and power quality monitoring”, also emphasizing that energy management systems in buildings do more than your traditional BMS.

Any BEMS will pull the base data of the building from the BMS, so it’s absolutely critical to have a BMS which is functional in every aspect (Debashish Chakraborty)

A good BEMS, he states, “will allow the user to slice and dice the data in any manner in order to take out intelligent and actionable information, will provide additional scope for energy savings and pull the base data of the building from the BMS”. In other words: the role of the BMS is key.

Among the many reasons to use a BEMS are energy and cost savings (and energy cost management), a better monitoring and control of energy consumption and usage, alerts in case of problems, the monitoring and protection of the equipment/assets (electrical network and electrical asset management), legal, environmental and corporate responsibility goals and more reasons we mentioned.

As both the BMS and BEMS market are going through profound transformation with, among others, IoT as an essential aspect, some have started to wonder whether BEMS solutions might not soon  be extinct.

Among the reasons: silos, different types of equipment/assets (metering, HVAC, load management, storage or EPSS as Tom Willie sums them up in an article wondering whether the BEMS might not soon be gone), even if BEMS solutions do continue to evolve as well. An interesting read whereby the role of IP and, you guessed it, IoT comes in the picture once again including ever more IP-connected and IoT-connected energy equipment .

And when speaking about silos and disparate systems we think about the words of Kevin Morin in our interview on critical power buildings and power management in this connected day and age that is only really beginning with IoT: “in the future world of ever more Internet of Things and connected applications, silos of infrastructure will become a thing from the past”.

The impact on the role of the BEMS and the role of the BMS remains to be seen although the findings from Navigant Research do give an indication of where we’re heading.

IoT is really a game changer.

Top image: Shutterstock – Copyright: asharkyu