Building Automation Systems | May 20, 2021

How to Leverage Remote Monitoring with Building Management Systems

What was once a luxury is now a necessity: accessing and managing your building systems from anywhere in the world. The rise of smart phones and the Internet of Things have given us the technology to connect systems to each other and push facility information remotely where you can securely monitor performance, analyze data and take action.

For years, the facilities set-up was always the same: a small office on site, a few guys at any given time and manual review of systems to take care of day-to-day issues that come up.

However, you no longer have to be tied to physical machines onsite to monitor equipment. Whether you’re responsible for managing thousands of properties (retail chains such as auto repair shops) or only a few (such as a small campus), smart building management with integrated Building Management Systems offers many benefits, including remote access.  

SIMPLE DEFINITION | Remote Monitoring Building Management Systems

Remote Monitoring Building Management Systems refers to building automation systems that can be accessed offsite through cloud-based systems or mobile interfaces and allow facilities professionals to manage buildings from any location.

Scenarios when managing buildings offsite is necessary

Multiple situations may call for remote access into a building’s HVAC or other operational systems. Common reasons to install building management systems with remote monitoring capabilities include:

  • Needing to be able to make decisions and implement them without being on site
  • Ensuring operational integrity while deploying new systems or making changes during off-hours
  • Integrating systems for a national portfolio of buildings to create operational consistency across sites, regardless of region
  • Accessing systems during temporary closure of buildings due to a local, national or global emergency or situation
  • Convenience of reviewing alerts and making assessments at any place, at any time Improving efficiency and lowering operational costs through active building management, made possible through integrated automation tools

How to use building management systems offsite

The short answer is: with the right automation system, you monitor and adjust building systems with a cloud-based dashboard. However, all building management platforms must be properly set-up and regularly managed in order to be successful and leveraged for their full capabilities.

Here’s a practical scenario for how to use a BMS without being on site:

  1. It’s Friday. You’ve just replaced an air handler with a new one. You want to make sure it’s integrated properly but your buildings are unexpectedly empty for the day, so you’re heading home.
  2. You’re not worried though – you can access your BMS through an app on your phone or cloud-based dashboard that will allow you to monitor the performance of the new AHU and make Demand Control Ventilation adjustments to the entire ventilation system since nobody’s at work.
  3. You check on an alert you get Saturday afternoon and take one more look Sunday, but no alarms went off and you can see the lowered power demand from the last couple of days.
  4. All this was managed from the comfort of your armchair.

There are dozens of additional ways to leverage BMS when you can access all of your systems without being in the facility. However, most of us need some extra training and support to become comfortable managing a building’s systems without being in front of them.

Here’s an example interface:

Image source:

How to install an automation system with remote monitoring capabilities

Building Automation or Energy Management Systems are complex and technical. Most facilities and building management professionals will need to coordinate a system installation or optimization with a third-party – whether it’s your brand’s technical support team or an outside expert, such as an Energy Service Company.

Either way, there are five straightforward steps for facilities management who need to remotely access their BMS.

  1. Research your systems to understand what you want to monitor, what the status of all of your equipment is via any existing BMS (visible/not visible? alarming/not alarming? what limitations currently exist for control and monitoring?)
  2. Engage the experts, such as an Energy Service Company or brand technician to update your building automation capabilities, through either upgrades and additions to an existing system or a full replacement.
  3. Download the right mobile app or remote software interface
  4. Complete some training
  5. View and manage your building’s systems from anywhere

The time is now for remote building management

Between mobile interfaces and sophisticated alerts, professionally installed building management systems offer facilities workers a huge amount of flexibility through today’s remote solutions. Beyond the immense energy savings these systems offer companies, 24/7 access to demanding building infrastructure is worth its weight in gold – or at least the weight of your preferred offsite device.