Building automation

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Building automation (BA) is the name of the facilities, software and services for automatic control and regulation, monitoring and optimization as well as for operation and management for the energy-efficient, economical and safe operation of the technical building equipment (TGA). (Source: DIN EN 15232-1 or VDI 3814-2 or DIN EN ISO 16484-2)

As building automation ( GA ) or home automation is defined as the set of monitoring - control - usually - and optimization facilities in buildings . It is therefore an important part of technical energy management . The aim is to carry out functional processes across disciplines independently (automatically) according to specified setting values ( parameters ) or to simplify their operation or monitoring. All sensors , actuators , operating elements, consumers and other technical units in the building are networked with one another. Processes can be summarized in scenarios. The distinguishing feature is the decentralized arrangement of the automation stations (AS) as well as the continuous networking by means of a communication network or bus system .

Relation to administrative facility management

To implement the administrative facility management, a large amount of information (floor space, type of use, energy requirement, etc.) is required on the buildings in operation. The support of administrative facility management through information technology is called Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM). The building automation can provide some of the required information as part of the technical facility management. In this way, the software of the management level or building control system (BMS) can be linked with the computer-aided facility management . However, the tasks of building automation go far beyond the pure provision of information through active control of the technical building equipment.

System components according to DIN 276

Building automation according to DIN 276

With DIN 276 of 1993, building automation (GA) was introduced as an official trade in the building industry - this was followed by special standards and the VOB / C [DIN 18386] as “general technical contract conditions” and the standard service book 070 for GA. The increasing importance of room automation within building automation, especially in non-residential buildings, is met by DIN 276 : Costs in the construction industry since 2006 by reorganizing the cost groups. A building automation system therefore consists of the subsystems

In addition to the original meaning for cost estimation and billing, the picture also shows the communicative relationships between the subsystems. While the communication between room automation and system automation is mainly used for demand-based control of the energy generator, the interfaces between both automation systems and the management system are primarily used for visualization, operation or trend recording.

Compared to the level model described below, the DIN grouping has dispensed with a subdivision into automation and field levels due to increasing merging; Rather, the functions of both levels can be found both within the room automation system and in the plant automation. Only the management level remains as a separate system component.

Technological basics

Technical elements

The components when setting up a system for building automation are:

Technical philosophy of building automation

Manufacturer independence / open systems

These buzzwords have been the central topics in building automation for years. They are demanded everywhere, but not consistently implemented by the manufacturers (until the introduction of BACnet) and torpedoed for obvious reasons (sales / market consolidation, “staking out claim”). However, more and more companies are offering systems with standardized communication (there can be no brand-neutral building control technology, because every "brand" has a manufacturer who is responsible for the product). Thanks to products that conform to a standardized protocol, the interoperability (connection) of various automation devices (previously: substations / DDC-BA components) is possible with little effort.

However: In building automation, one speaks of manufacturer independence when a system is installed that gives the operator the option of making products from several manufacturers communicate with one another without major problems. The dependency on the manufacturer is not resolved, but only relaxed. Whereby the curiosity arises that various DDC-GA manufacturers have price lists for the DDC-GA components, but political prices are generated for the gateways depending on the project. This situation continues as long as the tenders are made with the manufacturer's specifications instead of the neutral standard service book for the construction industry. If the planning were done neutrally according to VDI 3814 or the world standard DIN EN ISO 16484, the problem would be solved.

The dependency on the installer with regard to the existing systems, maintenance according to VDMA or the repair of damage still exists, as it was usually (until around 2010) illusory for cost reasons to replace one controller (DDC-GA) in the control cabinet with another. In the case of new buildings or extensions, however, the freedom to tender is made possible, thus creating investment security. There is also the possibility of adding additional properties that were previously regulated and monitored separately because of different brands. The different makes arose because the building automation was added to the pipe and sheet metal works as a subcontractor. So the GA company cannot (may) not even point out to the builder the concept and construction errors of the system builder. The result is high operating costs.


Nowadays the trend is not only in classic building automation with the state of the art in the direction of multimedia networking, but also across various trades .

The following text relates to home automation: In the case of electrical household appliances (white goods), there is a continuing trend towards networking, mostly via powerline solutions. BSH Hausgeräte develops serve @ Home , Miele has Miele @ home products and in Switzerland you can find ZUG-Home from V-Zug . The display of the networking or the control of the devices is mostly done via a web browser and is sometimes integrated with other building automation solutions so that the cycle to entertainment electronics or the new media is closed. The situation is similar for consumer electronics devices (brown goods) and heating devices ( red goods ). Intelligent networking in building automation is driven by technical progress that unites the different areas. Increasing flexibility of the systems and decreasing cost structures increase the demand for corresponding solutions - on the commercial as well as on the private side.

The goal of networking with white, brown and red goods is to increase the added value when using the device and to create new (remote) control options. The underlying technology as a protocol stack is usually LON , UPnP or KNX standard powerline, with the embedded software stack often based on OSGi (Java). In building automation, but also in room automation, the BACnet protocol has established itself globally - so today no provider can afford not to offer BACnet. The result is a holistic solution with uniform operation.

Basic technologies for building automation

Control technology and management systems for remote maintenance

Mostly proprietary solutions are used, for example for remote management of the local OSGi systems described below .

Management and automation level

An OSGi framework is an open, modular and scalable “service delivery platform” based on Java. In its function as a software base platform for embedded devices, it enables the networking of intelligent end devices through subsequent delivery and installation of services during runtime. This includes the task of classic remote control , remote diagnosis and maintenance of these devices. Furthermore, the distribution of information and multimedia entertainment content to these devices is made possible via suitable protocols. Accordingly, OSGi is typically used in vehicles (telematics), mobile devices (cell phones, PDAs) and in the area of ​​home networking ( residential gateways ) or in industrial automation solutions or completely different types of embedded systems . One of the areas of application of this open system is building automation, i.e. the technical facility management discussed here. Different other services can be provided on the same residential gateway at the same time. A large number of such gateways (i.e. local management systems) can then be controlled and monitored remotely via an appropriate remote management (i.e. a central management system).

Automation and fieldbus level

The Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) is a control protocol for controlling digital lighting control devices in buildings (for example electronic transformers , electronic ballasts , electronic power dimmers , etc.). Each operating device that has a DALI interface can be controlled individually using DALI short addresses. Through a bidirectional data exchange, a DALI control device or a DALI gateway can query the status of lamps or operating devices of a luminaire or set the status. DALI can be operated as an "island system" with a maximum of 64 operating devices or as a subsystem via DALI gateways in modern building automation systems.
The European Installation Bus (EIB) is a standard in accordance with EN 50090 , which describes how sensors and actuators in a house must be connected to one another during an installation . It also defines the communication protocol . The EIB controls, for example, the lighting and blinds or shading devices , the heating and the locking and alarm systems . Remote monitoring and control of a building is also possible using the EIB. EIB is currently mainly installed in new residential and functional buildings, but can also be installed later when modernizing old buildings. EIB installations can now be found not only in upscale residential construction. Even with inexpensive prefabricated houses, EIB networks are integrated into the building as standard. Communication takes place via a separate, two-pole line network or, especially in the case of retrofits, via existing power lines using Powerline Communication .
The Konnex bus (KNX) is a standard that describes how in an installation u. a. Sensors and actuators can be connected to one another via a bus / protocol system. The bus was designed in 2002 as the successor to the merger of the following three bus systems: EIB, BatiBus and EHS . KNX is compatible with the previous standard EN 50090, which normalizes the EIB standard.
Local Operating Network (LON) is a fieldbus that is primarily used in building automation. This fieldbus was developed by the US company Echelon around 1990. The LON technology - standardized with ANSI / EIA-709.x and EIA-852 and adopted as EN14908 in the European and as ISO / IEC 14908-x in the international standards - enables the neutral exchange of information between systems and devices from various manufacturers and regardless of the applications.
The Standard Motor Interface is a fieldbus for controlling electronic drives, for example for blinds or shutters. It can be used alone, but is mostly integrated into higher bus systems such as KNX. In addition to simpler cabling, the feedback capability is a clear advantage over conventional drives.
A Local Control Network (abbreviated LCN) is a proprietary building automation system for residential and functional buildings that was developed by the German hardware and software company Issendorff KG, based in Rethen (Leine).

Radio buses

Until recently, every manufacturer tried to fight his own system, but now there are several manufacturers who are forming alliances to enable greater interoperability.

Advantages of the radio buses over the wired is the simple retrofit option and independence from any lines, which is why z. B. light switches, even afterwards, can be placed anywhere. In addition, radio systems are often significantly cheaper to buy than conventional bus systems. Disadvantages of such systems were often due to the fact that they are mostly incompatible with one another or only to a limited extent (e.g. only switch on and off).

A suspected susceptibility to interference was prevented, among other things, by selecting the frequency and has not yet occurred.

Here are the most important protocols / manufacturers:

  • KNX-RF - also ISO / IEC 14543-3, radio transmission on 868 MHz of the KNX standard , an extension of the EIB (EN 50090)
  • ZigBee is an extension of IEEE 802.15.4 , again a modification for economical IEEE 802.11 operation (868 MHz EU / 902 MHz USA / 2.4 GHz).
  • Enocean Alliance, a non-profit organization to ensure the interoperability of products based on the international standard ISO / IEC 14543-3-10. (Members include Siemens, Viessmann, Wieland Electric, Honeywell Group, Somfy, Thermokon, Wago, Kieback & Peter, Jäger Direkt, Eltako)
  • The IP500 Alliance developed with the standard IP500 a platform for building automation, the more important by using and supporting industry standards and clear specification ensures interoperability of all interfaces. Members are u. a. Bosch, Honeywell, Siemens, OMRON, TOYOTA TSUSHO. IEEE 802.15.4-2006 are used and supported; 6LoWPAN; IPv6; IPSec; BACnet; AES128. The IP500 standard fulfills the regulations according to EN and VdS for electronic devices in security-relevant applications such as fire protection, burglary or access.
  • Z-Wave standard from Sigma Designs, which u. a. used by Danfoss , COQON and Merten GmbH . (868 MHz EU / 902 MHz USA)
  • Thread Group . An extension of the IEEE 802.15.4 (like ZigBee ). ZigBee Dotdot can run on thread. Founding members: Nest (Google / Alphabet), ARM, Silicon Labs, Samsung, Qualcomm.
  • HOMEeasy (ELRO)
  • Bluetooth , as well as Bluetooth Mesh as an extension of Bluetooth Low Energy
  • ( WLAN )

Other bus systems used for building automation

Home automation

"T-Com House" in Berlin, 2005

Home automation ( home automation ) or home automation is the sub-area of ​​building automation that is geared towards the conditions of private residential buildings and the special needs of its residents. While in the automation of public buildings , industrial buildings , etc., the energy and personnel savings that can be achieved are in the foreground, in home automation these are the increased living comfort, the safety of the residents and the possibility of being able to monitor several residences . In view of the rising energy prices, however, the subject of energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important for home automation. The partners of home automation systems therefore also offer intelligent devices such as adapter plugs with a current measuring function and heating thermostats.
The main difference between home automation and general building automation is the particular importance of a comfortable user interface (visualization). Often there are functions in home automation that only play a minor role in building automation - if at all (e.g. entertainment programs, automatic plant watering or pet feeding, lighting programs for parties, etc.).
Home automation takes on important subtasks with regard to “age-appropriate assistance systems for a self-determined life” (English “ Ambient Assisted Living ”, abbreviated to: AAL), with points of contact with “ intelligent living ” (English “Smart Living”). When it comes to intelligent living, however, the focus is on the networking and automation of household appliances and less on the assistance functions of an overall adaptive system.

chances and risks

Building automation options (GA)

Advantages and disadvantages


  • Energy consumption reduction through intelligent control.
  • Increased convenience through intelligent control: for example, a predefined lighting situation can be created at the push of a button without having to switch or dimm several lamps individually; or alternatively defined actions can be triggered through logical links between switching states.
  • Protection against break-ins through presence simulation .
  • Security for the residents through alarms when critical situations arise.
  • Monitoring by an external security service through automatic alarm forwarding.


  • Higher acquisition costs compared to normal building installation. On the one hand, however, the costs are often amortized through the energy savings in operation; on the other hand, many functions are not possible at all with classic building installation or are much more expensive.
  • If the complexity is high, qualified personnel are required to operate the systems.
  • Increased dependency on the installer or DDC-BA manufacturer of the systems, since some installers are also the manufacturers of the DDC-BA components. It is therefore important to ensure that all documents, including the current programs, are handed over in the DDC-GA components, as otherwise the system must always be expanded subsequently by the installer. Alternatively, standardized bus systems with certified products (EIB, KNX) can be used, which guarantee a wide variety of manufacturers and, as a rule, also interchangeability of the components.
  • Higher susceptibility to failure compared to normal building installation due to hardware or software errors. In systems with a central control, this can represent a single point of failure and, if there is no redundancy , a defect or incorrect configuration can result in the failure of the entire system.

Logical levels in building automation

Building automation is (functionally) divided into three levels: the field level , the automation level and the management level .

Levels of communication in building automation

The classic division of the levels can be seen in the picture. Due to the rapid development of microprocessors in recent years, the previous classic division of field, automation and management levels is becoming more and more blurred. More intelligence is moving into the sensors and actuators, so that these are now also connected directly to the DDCs field buses. In some cases, field devices have management functionality. Furthermore, through the use of so-called residential gateways , more local intelligence is also migrating to the automation level, whereas the management level can be partially subdivided into local and remote management. It is particularly noticeable here that the requirements in the home sector (single-family houses) differ greatly from those in the professional sector (office buildings).

Management level

The management level is the level that is used to monitor the systems and optimize their operating mode. This includes the visualization of historized and statistically processed data. Special software, the building control system, is used at the management level. There are various manufacturer-dependent systems that have their advantages and disadvantages. Vendor-independent interfaces on the management level include OPC , OPC Unified Architecture and BACnet , with BACnet also working on the automation level (native BACnet).

At the management level, it is possible to use gateways to remove the manufacturer dependency of existing systems with proprietary bus systems. For most systems, however, the cooperation of the manufacturer is necessary.

Depending on the area of ​​application, the management level can be subdivided into local and remote management, whereby so-called residential gateways either take over the local management completely independently or can form a component of it. The remote management, in turn, is based on the local components from a central point and thus enables remote control via secure Internet connections, for example.

Often misunderstood as "management", there are functions for operating building automation. These functions are independent of the level being considered (according to DIN EN ISO 16484). The operating functions are used to control BA systems and visualize information for the operator.

Automation level

For the exchange of data on the automation level between the DDCs, proprietary bus systems are still often used today, despite standardization. However, due to the pressure of the market, a trend towards the cross-manufacturer exchange of information can be observed ( interoperability ). However, DDC-BA components that work with these open systems at the automation level have been more expensive so far.

At the automation level, BACnet and LON ( Local Operating Network ) should be mentioned as manufacturer-independent bus systems. BACnet and LON are preferred by large companies in functional buildings. The aim is to implement the management of larger building systems (e.g. office buildings, clinics or airports) with a genuinely open standard.

Due to the manufacturer-oriented market, publicly unreliable statements about the number of implemented systems are possible. Only the manufacturers organized in the VDMA-AMG have access to the very detailed "VDMA statistics", which have been providing reliable market data since 1987.

There are also radio systems for retrofitting if no new cables are to be drawn.

As an alternative to bus systems, programmable logic controllers (PLC) are also used in building automation . Mixed forms are also possible with the help of bus couplers.

Based on powerful control controllers in the control cabinet, OSGi -based building operating systems similar to PLC systems have been established in recent years , but programming is no longer necessary here. All functionality is picked using management software.

Field level

The cabling of the sensors and actuators with the DDC-GA components is referred to as the field level . The interfaces to the sensors are very simple, as the sensors are usually connected directly to the inputs of the DDC. The DDC-GA component evaluates temperature sensors, e.g. B. Pt100 , NTC or PTC , select the changes in resistance that represent the measured value. With active sensors, e.g. B. pressure sensors, an analog standard signal of 0/4 to 20 mA or 0 to 10 V is transmitted, which represents the measured value. Potential-free contacts and S0 interfaces are used for the digital inputs .


Building automation as an independent course of study can only be found at one German university, the Academy of Biberach University .

Otherwise, building automation is only offered as a field of study or specialization within the framework of supply engineering or electrical engineering courses.

German universities that offer a field of study or a major in building automation are z. B .:

In Switzerland, for example, there is a building technology course at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences , which deals with building automation topics in its building electrical engineering.

Important building automation companies


  • Jörg Balow: Systems of Building Automation - A manual for planning, building, using . Karlsruhe 2012, cci-dialog-verlag, ISBN 978-3-922420-26-2 .
  • Dietmar Dietrich, Dietmar Loy, Hans-Jörg Schweinzer: LON technology - distributed systems in use . 2. revised Edition, Heidelberg 1999, ISBN 3-7785-2770-3 .
  • Stefan Heinle: Home automation with KNX, DALI, 1-Wire and Co. Bonn 2016, ISBN 978-3-8362-3461-0 .
  • Hans R. Kranz: BACnet building automation 1.12 . 3. revised Edition, Karlsruhe 2012, cci-dialog-verlag, ISBN 978-3-922420-25-5 .
  • Hermann Merz, Thomas Hansemann, Christof Hübner: Building automation - communication systems with EIB / KNX, LON and BACnet . Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-446-40987-3 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. One app for everything? Smarthome control Coqon in the test. In: Retrieved May 10, 2017 .
  2. the dotdot story. Retrieved September 29, 2017 (American English).
  3. T-Com house: RFID and WLAN for "mood management". In: March 1, 2005, accessed July 3, 2009 .
  4. Consumer survey : Smart home can do without a networked refrigerator. In: Environment Service . Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  5. The common components in the check: tasks & possible uses. ( Memento of the original from November 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: . Retrieved October 24, 2014.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. ^ Biberach University: Master in Building Automation - Biberach University. Retrieved September 22, 2017 .
  7. AE focus on building automation