The Internet of Things (IoT) has transformed the energy industry. Insight derived from data collected from devices linked to the internet provide opportunities to improve energy efficiency, solve critical problems and enhance operational performance. IoT has already had a significant impact on the commercial real estate sector. IoT applications are enabling organisations to dramatically improve building operations, enhance tenant relationships and provide new opportunities to reduce capital expenditure.

The commercial real estate sector is uniquely positioned to implement technology using IoT-enabled Building Management Systems (BMS). A fully integrated IoT-enabled BMS provides a much richer picture of building performance compared to an independent BMS, not to mention the intelligent decision-making that comes from real-time data supplied via this type of system.

The IoT has evolved the BMS landscape giving rise to the smart building market. As a result, the distinction between a BMS and a Building Energy Management System (BeMS) is slowly disappearing. A BMS is an essential component of a smart building and there are many overlaps in functionality between a BMS and BeMS. Therefore, when introducing smart building technology, it is essential to know the difference between these two systems.

What is a BMS?

A building management system or commonly known as a BMS, is a control system that can be used to monitor and manage the mechanical and electrical services in a building or facility. Such services can include power, access control, lifts and lights, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning. More specifically, they link the functionality of individual pieces of building equipment so that they operate as one complete integrated system. New generations of BMS are now based on open communications protocols and are IoT-enabled allowing the integration of multiple system vendors.

How does a BMS work?

Using intelligent standalone controllers or outstations, a BMS can manage plant equipment in response to changing conditions such as time or temperature levels. It is possible to begin with a single outstation and expand over time; this is what gives a BMS vast capabilities.  Typically, a BMS specialist will programme in the control strategy into the BMS which sets the parameters and controls automations. The strategy is based on the system description of the operation document provided at the design and commissioning stage. The core features of a BMS include:

  • Graphic User Interface (GUI)
  • Real Time Monitoring of Building Operation and Performance
  • Trending and Logging of Building Operation and Performance
  • Time Scheduling of Building Systems
  • Fault Management and Alarming
  • Control Application Programming
  • User Event Management
  • Energy Management and Reporting (NABERS)
  • Built in compliance with building requirements and government regulations

What is a BeMS?

A Building Energy Management System (BeMS) monitors and controls energy-related building services such as HVAC and lighting. The term BeMS is often used interchangeable with BMS, however it is argued that a BeMS only manages energy -related systems, whereas a BMS monitors and controls a wide range of building systems including fire-alarms, CCTV, motion sensors etc.

A BeMS will provide the information and tools that building managers need to both understand energy usage and control / improve energy performance. As both the BMS and BeMS market are profoundly changing because of IoT, there is growing debate as to whether the BeMS solution might eventually become obsolete as the gap between BMS and BeMS disappears.


When programmed skilfully, a BMS can become a Building Energy Management System (BeMS). To do this, the BMS needs to have a programmed control strategy that takes into consideration all the aspects of the plant connected to it and the synergy between them.

A BMS not only provides a holistic view into building operations but can also be the catalyst to responding to inefficiencies. Therefore, it is perfectly capable of saving large amounts of energy and money – be it gas, electricity or water. Ultimately, the key differentiator between a BMS and BeMS is the control strategy that is adopted.

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