The industry is in the early stages of what could become a revolution in which data, the Cloud, analytics, IP connectivity and system convergence all “come together” to create the genuinely ‘smart’ building. This is according to BSRIA’s latest global study of the market for Building Automation Control Systems (BACS), published in January 2019.

BSRIA’s annual World BACS study for 2018 focusses in detail on nine national or regional markets. It shows that the global market for BACS products grew by an estimated four per cent AGR to reach more than 6.3 billion US dollars in 2018 and is forecast to reach 7.8 billion US dollars in 2023. This in turn supports the larger market for value added services and maintenance.

While hardware such as controllers and field devices still accounts for most of the turnover, software is growing at 10 per cent CAGR, which is well over twice the overall rate for the market. This includes the software used to run building systems and, also increasingly, to analyse and optimise them, as well as building energy management (BEMS) and other more specialist software.

Globally almost 90 per cent of BACS software installed is still run on local servers there is growing acceptance of the Cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. Europe leads this field with the Swedish market being “especially enthusiastic”. Clients in German speaking countries continue to be markedly “more cautious” about entrusting data to the Cloud.

IP connectivity is also gaining ground and typically comes in two “waves”. In the first wave, devices are delivered with inbuilt IP connectivity. This applies to about half of controllers sold globally. It is also increasingly true of big investment items, such as chillers, and of those where an IP connection is most useful.
In the second “wave”, which often comes later, the device is then connected up “as and when” there is a need for the connection.

BSRIA’s senior analyst, Henry Lawson, commented: “As part of the general quest for smarter and more integrated buildings, we are also seeing increasing convergence in building systems. While HVAC tends to remain the primary focus, we found that in over a quarter of projects there was convergence, especially with lighting where the synergy is most obvious but also with security and even fire safety systems.

“This trend is particularly pronounced in new buildings and especially for larger and higher profile projects. Often it is not technology that is holding convergence back, but management issues such as different departmental owners for different building systems.

“BSRIA research suggests that the trend towards smarter and more integrated and software-and data-driven buildings is set to continue. At the current rate of change, it might still take decades for software data and analytics to become the dominant element. On the other hand, we could well see a kind of ‘tipping point’, where breakthroughs, whether in the technology or in market awareness, causes a rapid acceleration in this trend.

“If this happened then we could, for example, move from buildings which aim to improve wellbeing, to ones in which wellbeing can be accurately monitored and adjusted down to the level of individuals in the building. This could represent either the ‘dream’ or the ‘nightmare’ scenario.

“The world of BACS is going to become increasingly dynamic and exciting: there has never been a better time to be involved in buildings and their systems.”