ENTOUCH Smart Building Solutions

The Difference Between Energy Management Systems (EMS) & Building Management Systems (BMS)

Both energy management systems (EMS) and building management systems (BMS) empower facilities managers with information regarding asset condition and energy use. Although the combination is a go-to solution for modern facilities management, the systems are often mistaken for one another. However, an energy management platform is significantly different from building management systems. Facilities Managers that wish to do more with less need to understand the limitations of these systems, when to use each, and how to select a winning system.

How Energy and Building Management Systems Differ

The first step to understanding the difference is in what they track. An energy management system is designed to monitor energy use within the facility. In its most basic form, an EMS provides visibility into the total energy used for an asset, as well as how that energy use compares to overall energy use for the facility. Facilities Managers can then extrapolate insights from data collected to map current use and decide what is necessary to reduce energy use, says Edward Armstrong via Facility Executive.

For example, higher-than-expected energy use may indicate greater runtime for an asset. However, if runtime has not changed and energy use still climbs, it alludes to potential problems, such as an extreme air supply delta or even malfunctioning components.

The use of a BMS gives Facilities Managers the information necessary to make decisions regarding overall building decisions that are not necessarily energy-related. Applications of a BMS include maintenance planning, tracking of occupancy rates, space utilization and more. In addition, a building automation system (BAS) may be used interchangeably with BMS, providing a means of control over building operations.

The similarities between an EMS and BMS are their potential for impacting everyday operations and planning. Leveraging both in tandem augments their capabilities.

For instance, information from an EMS may be used in a BMS for maintenance planning and vice versa.

Which System Is Right for My Organization?

Before deciding on a system, Facilities Managers should look to what other companies are doing. Energy management is the fastest way to derive savings in facilities management because it impacts direct energy expenses. However, only 44 percent of companies have an EMS in place, and 70 percent have implemented a BMS, explains Facility Executive. While the apparent trend is more BMS than EMS, BMS does not give insights into energy use. In commercial and K-12 facilities, energy costs fall second only to labor costs, and depending on the industry, speaking to non-educational institutions, energy costs could exceed labor costs, such as manufacturing, explains the U.S. Energy Information Agency. As a result, leveraging only a BMS limits the ability to reduce excess energy costs.

Critical Steps to Deciding Between EMS and BMS

Facilities Managers must not only decide between an EMS and BMS. Instead, they should look for a system with characteristics of both. Modern EMS contain the capability to automate system controls and proactively manage energy consumption costs. ENTOUCH.360™ leverages dedicated account management and advisory support to turbocharge energy savings and maximize asset life expectancy. IoT-enabled or “smart” sensors can further help facilities manage energy-consuming assets, such as appliances, the lighting system, water use and more. As your company grows and extends its portfolio, a BMS will likely be in your future. However, implementing an EMS today could derive enough cost savings from paying for its implementation as well as the use of a BMS in the future.

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