A TRULY OPEN Building Automation System E-book

Building Automation System (BAS) has become a standard and essential technology required by every modern smart building in the world today, due to its vast range of advantages it brings to the building owners and environment. A Truly Open BAS system can, for example, reduce energy consumption of a building up to 30%, while lasting for 20 years or more.

The earliest building automation technology in year 1883 started with the first thermostat, today the technology has evolved drastically.  Today, BAS is so advanced that the building owners can control and monitor their buildings effectively even at outside of their buildings.  Smart buildings improve energy management efficiency, enable operational and maintenance cost saving, improve building efficiency, improve productivity and many more.

In ADF, we have developed our very own building technologies platform with IP connectivity to connect IoT sensor devices and apps which are hosted on the cloud. All sensors are connected via IP to provide fundamental analytics that will allow property managers to enhance profitability with intelligent building networks.  From the data generated by the buildings, our building technologies feature advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) to lower operating cost, improve building efficiency, lower operational and financial risk, as well as increase building efficiency and profitability.

In 1970’s, BAS used to just work on manual inputs and pneumatic controls, controlling only the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system.  In the 1980’s, this is expanded to analogue electronic controllers, and it marked the beginning of integrated control system extended to other services in the buildings such as HVAC system, lighting system, electrical system, and mechanical system.  Popularity of the BAS system has expanded for its technology advancement that enables building owners to see opportunities in convenient centralized control and monitoring systems, thus saving costs in many ways. The number of suppliers was constantly growing, more brands and products were introduced into the market.  Building owners were opened to more choices.  However, in reality, many building owners found themselves locked to a single brand or supplier via the proprietary system and configuration tools of the initial supplier.  Thus in the 1990’s, in order to protect the rights of the owners and ensure the sustainability of BAS, Open Communication System or Open Protocols such as BACnet and LonWorks were introduced to standardize the communication language of controllers and devices of various brands in the market.

Building owners often confuse “Open Protocol” as “Open System by. Having an Open System BAS means that owners can have complete access, control and even modification over their building system. The supplier or the particular brand should not be the only person that can work on the system. Open Protocol alone is sufficient to ensure the rights of building owners, to ensure the sustainability of the building system, and to ensure potential of future system expansion or upgrades.  A Truly Open System is what a building owner should look for in their decision of choice. 

The four key things to make sure your building system has, to be Truly Open are:

  1. Open Protocol
  2. Open Application Programming Interface (API) & Software
  3. Open Sourcing
  4. Open Training

 Open Protocol refers to an industry standard communications language that allows BAS controllers from various vendors to communicate and interoperate together without the need for an interface or gateway. In Open Protocol BAS, its devices can be replaced with another brand devices that are using same protocol. Open Protocols are supported by multiple manufacturers, software vendors and service organization. It simplifies the communication with subsystems such as lighting, chillers, fire, water supply. It also enables integration between competitive BAS, and ensures support for future system upgrades and expansions.  It also protects owner long term investment by ensuring the system can sustain without worrying on being bound by single vendor, or if the initial supplier and contractor still can be contacted in the future. 

The common protocols are such as BACnet, LonWorks, Modbus, KNX, Dali, Clipsal C-Bus, M-Bus.  It is important to choose a protocol that is most widely used and available in your region.  For instance, BACnet is the global standard used in over 30 countries including United States, Europe, and Asia, while M-Bus and C-Bus are common for countries in Europe.

ADF and many other suppliers worldwide are using BACnet lP and BACnet MS/TP as their default protocol.  BACnet (Building Automation Control network) protocol is developed by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers).  It has become the most popular BAS standard globally, and most BAS devices and HVAC equipment have been built with this protocol now.  BACnet is popular for its detailed rules and BIBB (BACnet Interoperability Building Block) on data exchange over a network in BAS, such as types of cable, standard command for requesting value of a temperature, defining a fan schedule, or sending a pump status alarm.  BACnet BTL Certified controllers also another way to make sure your chosen brand is Open.  For example, ADF XTEC-X1 Direct Digital Controller is certified as highest range “BACnet Building Controller (B-BC)”.

Open API and Software in a BAS contributes to the sustainability of the building system.  API (Application Programming Interface) is a software intermediary that allows two applications or software to interact and share information with each other.    A third-party software developer can freely access to create custom tools and applications based on the data generated by the existing BAS that supports Open API.  It shortens the time needed and opens for unique customization after all. 

ADFVision is a user-oriented front end and tool designed by ADF.  It is an independent software that supports Open API, not “hardware locked”, and is replaceable.  Using SQL Database, it is also an open and common database which is compatible with any IBMS, OBSI software and cloud integration.  We provide an open opportunity for building owners to access to the data from ADF BAS in their building, and to make customizations on the software by third-party developer at their preferences and needs.      

Example on making changes in software:

Open Sourcing prevents building owners to be locked into a single vendor.  Building owners should make sure they have the freedom to change brands and contractors, without needing to change single thing in your building when it comes to upgrading and maintenance.  Owners should also consider on product availability in their region or country, for some brands are only more accessible in certain countries.  Can owners buy devices such as controllers, sensors (E.g. daylight sensor, temperature sensor, humidity sensor), output devices (E.g. relay and actuator) from multiple suppliers?  Can owners have direct access to the manufacturer for purchase, service and technical assistance?  The most common channels are manufacturer branch offices, distributors, system integrators and contractors.  In terms of sourcing, it is also important to find out about your potential vendors, whether their systems and products are proven applicable for your building current purpose and future planning, while making sure it is suitable your environment or region.

ADF is the best choice for projects in Malaysia, as a leading Malaysian company in BAS and Energy Management System (EMS), develops and manufactures own products, solutions, and software in Malaysia.  Products and solutions are created in Malaysia and tailor made for Asian building requirements.  Also, building owners, consultants and contractors can have instance access to ADF the principal, for any kind of technical support.  Innovative solutions, time and cost efficiency are therefore ensured. 

Open Training is another important factor that you as a building owner should ensure to receive from the system supplier, because trainings given by suppliers to clients are not the same with the trainings on the system that manufacturers and suppliers have. Suppliers and contractors have the full access on data retrieve, logic controls, software and programming etc, while owners only being given surface access and trainings on the data reading. Owners will not have access to the locked programming of the system and will not realize the impact that this limitation would bring, until it comes to the upgrading or maintenance of their system which usually comes after the defect liability period or warranty period.  Owners might also be restricted to limited product and service providers, and of course price comparison will be hard.  In a Truly Open BAS, owner’s trained person should be able to configure and program the system installed.

At ADF, we provide a complimentary full training to the appointed engineers of buildings from system monitoring to software programming.  We make sure configuration software tools are accessible by them.  The complete license to monitor and configure must be owned by the owner and related party. 

To end this blog post, Smart and Green Buildings will be the future of world building trends, Building Automation System will be playing the all important role in making your buildings smart.  More specifically, it is a Truly Open Building Automation System which creates a new smart building, and transforms your existing building into a smarter building.  A Truly Open BAS prolongs the sustainability of building, opens potential of transformation, and maximize the investment return of the owners, enhances the quality of life.


  1. https://blog.connectwithodin.com/the-past-present-and-future-of-building-automation-systems
  2. http://controlyourbuilding.com/blog/entry/the-ultimate-guide-to-building-automation
  3. https://www.automatedbuildings.com/news/jul13/articles/controlco/130629033606controlco.html
  4. http://www.bacnet.org/Bibliography/EC-9-97/EC-9-97.html
  5. https://www.johnsoncontrols.com/en_hk/-/media/jci/be/hong-kong/events/build4asia/bms/files/open-building-automation-system-brochure.pdf