Smart Access Control Systems Improve Energy Efficiency
29 June 2021
In the UK, building energy efficiency may not have been at the top of most organisation’s agendas over the last year. Now, as organisations prepare to open and welcome more of their workforce back into their buildings, it should be and especially as winter approaches when electricity bills rise to fuel lighting and HVAC systems.
Whilst the verdict is still out on how many organisations will continue to operate a work from home, work from the office or a hybrid policy, the fact is that an agile approach will help to protect their workforces, building assets and optimise energy usage costs. For building infrastructure systems, optimised usage could also lead to lower maintenance costs and longer periods between the replacement of consumable parts.
Whilst an access control system is principally concerned with controlling entry and exit into a building and the spaces within, smart systems also gather movement data that can be shared using standard industry protocols with building management systems and software platforms.
What is a Smart Building?
A smart building is one where the infrastructure subsystems are interconnected to create a network providing usage data for analysis, monitoring, and control. The most common building systems include lighting, heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC), fire, alarm, and access control.
More information on Smart Buildings is available from:
For any network to function, the interconnected sub-systems must be able to provide information in an easily readable and understood protocol. Examples of building systems protocols include Modbus and BACnet.
Modbus is a data communications protocol originally published by Modicon in 1979 for use with its programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Today, Modbus has become a de-facto standard communications protocol and a commonly available means of connecting industrial electronic devices.
BACnet is a communication protocol for Building Automation and Control (BAC) networks that leverage the ASHRAE, ANSI, and ISO 16484-5 standard protocol. BACnet was designed to allow communication of building automation and control systems for applications such as heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning control (HVAC), lighting control, access control, and fire detection systems and their associated equipment.
What BACnet does is provide a way for intelligent building automation devices and systems, such as the Remsdaq Entro access control system to exchange information with other BACnet enabled devices regardless of the type of system and service they perform. Remsdaq was an early adopter of BACnet and this protocol.
Smart Access Control and Occupancy Management Data
A key feature of any access control system is knowing who is where and when. This type of information is gathered every time someone presents a credential to a reader, and it is checked within the system database to either grant or deny entry or exit through a controlled doorway.
The data gathered can be used for several purposes. Examples including knowing who is in a building and where they are. The information can be used for mustering, time and attendance and even restricting the number of people allowed into a space such as a canteen, rest room or small office.
The data can also be used to track movement within a building and the most populated areas including time and date related usage. Simply put, knowing this allows for lighting and HVAC systems to be optimised to prevent waste energy. Rooms and spaces rarely used do not require as much heating or air conditioning as ones that are more extensively used. Lighting can also be turned off or at least reduced in less populated areas of a building.
Smart Access Control Systems
For those organisations looking to reduce their carbon footprints and contribute towards a nett zero society, a smart access control system should be a fundamental prerequisite. The data that can be gathered from BACnet enabled devices can be integrated into a smart building platform and building management system to allow algorithmic control and optimisation of both building and energy usage.
From a BACnet enabled access control system, a smart building management system can determine who is in a building, where and when. Offices can be heated or cooled and lit, to set calendar schedules, personal preferences, and usage. With little or no usage, these areas may not require as much ambient control allowing energy savings to be made. The process becomes automatic and self-regulating.
As organisations review how best to organise their offices and their working policies, they should also consider how access control systems can contribute towards a new normal. It is easy to scope out and install an access control system, whether a building has only 2-doors or up to 800 or more. The financial benefits in terms of energy savings can contribute towards a faster return on investment for the access control system project. For those organisations with fewer personnel on site, a suitable access control system also means more security and protection for those within the building.