There is no doubt that smart internet connected control systems have a lot of benefits for buildings of all types. The current pandemic crisis has really highlighted the advantages of remote access and how this can reduce
unnecessary site visits and give reassurance that systems are operang well from a distance.
Management Systems (BMS) and have been part of this revolution since the days of dial up modems.
As we begin to address the challenges of decarbonisation of our buildings heating systems, smart internet connected controls will play their part in maximising energy efficiency, as well as the role they will have in energy grid stabilisation, in ways that are still evolving. The direction is clear though; internet connected controls offer real benefits and the days of having to have expensive bespoke systems, are being challenged by lower cost “off the shelf” solutions. It is not always necessary to have expensive bespoke control systems tailored to the site boiler room. For the vast majority of practical use, a more standardised control solution could provide 80% to 90% of the information and control at a fraction of the cost.
Pete Mills, technical operaons manager for Bosch Commercial & Industrial, explains what to look out for when choosing a smart heang system control.
This may seem obvious, but it is more important than ever to ensure that energy efficiency is a central aspect of facilities management. Smart controls will definitely play a part in this. By being able to control and monitor a heating system means that issues or anomalies can be identified early on. Through doing so any potential problems can be resolved and the building’s efficiency levels can remain at a high-level. Heat can be one of the biggest culprits for wasted energy, but by making sure a heating system is as efficient as possible and that only the required amount of heat is generated through good control, could help.
The internet of things (IOT) is growing and with it come risks for the unwary of malicious attacks to vulnerable equipment. One such case was highlighted in a BBC article back in 2017 that found a large number of schools’ heating systems to be vulnerable to hackers. Equipment had been procured and installed by people, who were simply not aware of the potential risks involved. This situation is not uncommon and probably most of us are guilty of being complacent about internet security in our own homes. That complacency can spill over into decisions made in the work environment, if we are not aware of the higher risks associated with commercial applications. So, when looking to procure equipment for internet control of heating systems, what should we be looking out for?
There are some key processes and protocols that reputable
manufacturers of IOT equipment will follow, which the prospective purchaser should check at the outset.
10 BUILDING SERVICES & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER NOVEMBER 2020 Read the latest at: www.bsee.co.uk
uilding heating systems were one of the first systems to adopt internet
connectivity through bespoke Building
BOILERS & HOT WATER Smart heating controls: How to ensure you are protected
• Before any release of equipment, all of the critical points known and highlighted by OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) should be specifically checked by the manufacturer.
• Long established security specialists should be used by the manufacturer to conduct PEN Tests (comprehensive internet security penetration tests) that look for critical vulnerability.
• Make sure that any data is stored on secure servers that are classified to high standards and that the manufacturer involved observes strict data laws about how this data can be used.
• Ensure that regular software updates are available and implemented to keep systems up to date with the latest threats.
• Make sure the equipment IP Gateways have additional firewalls in place.
• Equipment should have individual activation codes.
• User login should only be possible with an SMS security code, sent independently to the user’s phone.
These key elements should be the minimum level required for standard applications, which have no particular security concerns that would highlight that further protection is needed. However, where there are higher security risks, dedicated VPN routers will provide an additional level of protection on top of the above list that can give further peace of mind. Ensuring these elements are in place will give a building the benefits of connected controls with the lowest level of risk. This means that lower cost solutions, such as Bosch’s 8313 controls platform, can be confidently used to control complex heating systems. Off the shelf solutions will enable installers to meet the needs of heating systems with multiple heating and hot water circuits, by the use of plug in modules that can be configured to the exact needs. Boilers and heat pumps can be sequenced to meet heat loads through equipment that is affordable, bringing remote access within the budgets of even the smaller plant rooms.
Lowering indirect carbon emissions
A building will produce a certain level of carbon emissions directly, and as mentioned above controls will help monitor this. However, there is a level of carbon produced indirectly through building management, say via transport. This is referenced in the London Plan as they look to see how more predictability could be brought into effect. Now, although smart controls won’t be able to estimate or monitor the level of emissions that would be produced from a delivery or an engineer site visit, they could help cut down the amount of transport visits to the site.
One example would be the remote diagnostic and predictive maintenance capabilities from smart controls. This could help prevent unnecessary calls out from engineers and indirectly reduce carbon emissions from vehicles and other forms of transport. The ability to monitor remotely and receive clear alerts to plant rooms from anywhere in the world, without the need to send an engineer, has tangible benefits.
The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how it is possible for many of us to work from home, remote from our normal work places. Without doubt, this trend will become the new normal as the CO2 savings and increases in productivity of reducing our travel are realised. It is inevitable that the need for greater connectivity and ability to monitor systems remotely will grow, with an expectation that this becomes a standard requirement.
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