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Building Automation Systems Engineers

The Job

A building automation system (BAS) engineer designs, installs, maintains, and repairs building automation systems (which are also known as building management systems and building control systems). These systems feature centralized controls that operate a building’s heating, air-conditioning, electrical, lighting, plumbing and water heating, elevator, security (including surveillance cameras), fire alarm, sprinkler, ventilation/air purification, and other systems. A BAS is often used with some type of smart metering or energy management software, and the most modern systems incorporate artificial intelligence and the Industrial Internet of Things. Engineers design and configure these systems for buildings that are under construction, as well as for existing buildings that do not have these systems already in place. Others work to replace or improve outdated automation systems in buildings. In this instance, they assess a building’s current level of automation functionality, identify areas of improvement, and devise a plan to integrate new systems or upgrade the existing system to improve operational utility and efficiency.

Some engineers may be tasked with decommissioning a building’s automation system in a large building or group of buildings such as a manufacturing plant, power station, or courthouse. Decommissioning involves completing a wide range of steps such as switching off the water supply and draining pipes; removing hazardous, flammable and waste materials; providing temporary support to weakened or damaged structural elements; and assessing the fire risk of the structure and addressing any issues. Decommissioning is done in preparation for recommissioning, repurposing, or demolishing a building. When a building is recommissioned, engineers methodically test the building’s systems to ensure that each is working correctly based on its original design and that they are working together efficiently. Engineers also seek to identify inefficiencies that can be improved. Recommissioning is often required within five to seven years after a building is constructed. When a building is repurposed (for example, from industrial to residential use), the engineer must assess the existing automated system to determine which components will be needed, which must be removed, and which must be added to the system.

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