Considered the fourth industrial revolution, according to the Australian Government, transformative technologies are rapidly changing the entire industry and infrastructure.

Apart from boosting Australia’s economic competitiveness, these technologies also aid in the country’s sustainable objectives.

Across the world, different companies are working on designing and manufacturing systems that can boost sustainable practice. The Building Automation Systems field – amongst others that are contributing to maintaining healthy environmental, social and economic systems in balance – has emerged as a leading industry with various systems that encourage a greener.

Building Automation & Sustainability in Australia

Today’s available solutions in Australia have evolved from initial versions that were first introduced twenty-to-thirty years ago. In the 2018 Australian Parliament Development of Cities Report, the importance of transition Australia’s built environment to a more environmentally sustainable future was acknowledged. What used to remain an afterthought, is now a clear point of priority during the beginning of the design process.

This is especially relevant as Australia’s built environment still accounts for almost three quarter of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and more than half of electricity consumption levels.

Contrary to that, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) corroborated Australia’s position as the world leader in design, construction and operation of sustainable commercial buildings by saying “the 2016 Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) – which assessed 759 real estate companies and funds (representing 66,000 assets and $3.7 trillion in gross asset value) ­ ranked Australia the world’s most sustainable real estate market for the sixth year in a row.”

The term ‘sustainability’ often connotes ‘efficiency’ and will continue to be of great importance in architecture and construction processes. Considered a key necessity, as well as a key aspect, integrating building automation systems in commercial structures will result in a reduction of pollution and greenhouse gasses. This will allow the entire structure to operate at a lower cost while buildings are able to increase the value of its assets.

The reduction of water and energy consumption is met with operational efficacy as automation systems require little-to-no maintenance. This also generates substantial savings with a shorter return on investment. The general integration of building automation systems results in increased comfort, convenience and savings for owners, managers, administrators, occupants and various stakeholders.

As buildings are the foundation of most business or organisations in any major city around Australia, the solutions that have been developed are exciting and promising – both at present and in the future. With building automation, as there is complete control of numerous smart building functions that decrease the buildings’ overall carbon footprint, such as automatic and efficient lighting, HVAC systems, facades and louvres, power management, and security systems.

The French Connection in Building Automation Systems

For French multinational, Schneider Electric, EcoStruxure for Buildings is an open innovation platform that facilitates a solution collaborative of the Internet of Things. It features a scalable and secure information architecture to create future-ready smart buildings. Marrying hardware with software, Ecostruxure maximises building efficiency while optimising comfort and productivity to increase the overall building value.

Going beyond the basic functions of building automation systems, Ecostruxure addresses the entire ecosystem with easy integration of other devices, building systems and cloud services. The EcoStruxure Building Operation Software provides an integrated view across all building subsystems including HVAC, security, power management, and lighting controls.


Schneider Electric says that EcoStruxure is offered in a range of sizes, fascia colours and textural finishes to match the desired feel of the interior it sits in.

Gavin McClelland, Schneider Electric’s national marketing manager for digital buildings, says “Through deploying the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure platform, energy and operational efficiency can be improved, building environments are optimised and more comfortable… Examples of customer outcomes include a 33 percent reduction in comfort related complaints, a 20 percent reduction in energy bills and 29 percent less unscheduled maintenance. Through leveraging IoT, big data and analytics engines – EcoStruxure helps solve the challenges of today and the future.”   

A Holistic Building Automation System

As a global supplier of intelligent locks and security solutions, ASSA ABLOY says it is creating a sustainable company that aids in future-proofing solutions by what it calls it’s reduce, reuse and recycle philosophy.

  • Reduce; reduced energy consumption, reduce water usage and decreased carbon emissions
  • Reuse; better durability and reparability for a longer life cycle
  • Recycle; recycled content use in production and recycled end of life

An ASSA ABLOY spokesperson says that the company “ensures that product working life is maximised while maintenance is minimised.”

Fully Integrated Building Automation Systems

“Various studies have shown the considerable benefits to be had with ABB i-Bus KNX building automation. Typical studies show a lighting energy saving of approximately 25 percent and a heating/cooling energy saving of up to 50 percent,” says Ian Harding, product marketing manager – Building Products for ABB in Australia.

In saying that, ABB claims its KNX i-bus technology fits into any sustainable ecosystem.

In specific terms, ABB says its i-bus KNX intelligent building control integrates heating, air-conditioning and ventilation in order to control climate coherently and efficiently. Temperature values in the room are then recorded and supplied to generate the optimum temperature and air-quality.

Smart Buildings: A Case Study

Sheraton On the Park: A Luxury Hotel Retrofit That Maximises Efficiency

As one of the most renowned luxurious hotels in Sydney, Sheraton on the Park is part of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts group. With over 500 rooms and suites, the hotel prides itself on maintaining a high standard having specified top-quality furnishings and products throughout. In the same manner, an upgrade of the hotel’s backend systems has been approached with the goal of reducing environmental footprint and energy consumption while improving the hotel’s overall energy efficiency.

After an audit was conducted, it was confirmed that there needed to be a number of upgrades to reduce energy usage at the hotel, including refurbishment of the hotel’s chiller system, HVAC, lighting control systems and the Building Management System (BMS). The previous BMS at Sheraton On the Park was deemed outdated and Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Building was specified as a replacement. From sensors to services, by connecting everything through one IP backbone, various management systems are integrated with one another to leverage digitization and big data. 

As stated on the company’s report of the hotel’s refurbishment: “The system is designed for compatibility with existing or third-party building systems and devices and is open and scalable to expand with the building enterprise’s future needs.” Considering all aspects of the building’s operational systems, the EcoStruxure Building solution also extends to control and monitor carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the carpark and new chillers.

Authorised personnel are able to access the EcoStruxure system online and make informed decisions on energy usage and control. “We have already saved 15 percent on our first month’s energy bill since the upgrade was completed,” said Andrew Smith, regional director of engineering, Starwood Pacific Hotels.

Smart Student Accommodation at the Institute for Building and Energy Systems

With technology-based products the true challenge relates to delivering industrial design solutions that deliver intuitively a new user experience to a process that is otherwise innate, such as opening a door. Understanding this more than ever, ABB’s i-bus KNX solution was specified in a student accommodation at the Biberach University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

In a report published by ABB about the project, it was stated that “Particularly automation functions which present a high degree of energy-saving potential by combining various individual trades can today only be achieved using modern building system technology based on bus and communication systems.” This is more apparent than ever as energy costs continue to escalate. As KNX is the world’s only “open standard for building control”, it is extremely docile and allows building managers to monitor, control and optimise energy usage without disrupting the occupants.

Due to KNX’s combined Passive Infrared Sensors (PIR), lighting and temperature levels are automatically detected. Since the integration of ABB’s i-bus KNX system, figures indicate that there have been over 25 percent of savings alone, that have generated from monitoring and controlling light. Additionally, panel Heaters, ventilation and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) units were all regulated through the KNX System. Easily enabled by the push of a single button, the interior atmosphere runs on an optimum level.

Overall, at the Institute’s Student Accommodation, KNX manifests as field level control and data provision for the building-wide energy management system. Data on occupancy, lighting levels, internal room temperature and ventilation have all been combined to influence overarching decisions on system and operation.


Automation builds on itself. It not only provides operational efficiency but also cuts costs and delivers long-term sustainability for the building and the environment. This will continue to be valuable as more and more people around Australia are living and working in urban centres.

By 2040, this might mean that energy consumption levels of buildings in the central business districts will swell by 80 percent. Digitising building automation systems, as the aforementioned companies have proven, becomes an opportunity to meet the demands of the future while being sustainable.

Image: ABB