Software-Defined Wireless Decentralized Building Management System

Mr. Anthony Colonnese | Ameresco, Inc.



The potential for energy savings resulting from current state-of-the-art building management systems (BMSs) is well documented. However, in order to achieve the necessary return on investment (ROI) to justify a retrofit project, the installed cost of the system must be low relative to the energy savings achieved. For small buildings (<50,000 sqft), the yearly energy usage is usually too low to justify the high installed costs of current BMSs.

This project will demonstrate a new BMS architecture that significantly lowers total lifecycle cost to half that of state-of-the-art competitors in the small building sector, enabling ROIs that make retrofits possible through performance contracts. The results will establish the installed costs and energy savings for a range of building sizes and HVAC setups, demonstrating the necessary ROI to justify efficiency projects using this BMS. Installing advanced BMS systems in a larger portion of the Department of Defense (DoD) small building inventory will generate utility savings for DoD as well as help meet federal greenhouse emission reduction mandates. The demonstration will be conducted at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

Back to Top

Technology Description

The BMS is built on a new data acquisition and control platform called Halo/S. This platform is unique from current state-of-the-art platforms in several ways:

  • Decentralized: Each Halo/S device is capable of running its own high-level software, and is capable of communicating with any other device on the network. This eliminates the need for standalone controllers, which can dominate the overall cost of a BMS for small buildings.
  • Low Cost: The firmware runtime has been specifically designed and optimized to run on ultralow cost microprocessors, drastically reducing hardware costs while significantly improving battery life.
  • Wireless Protocol: A new, proprietary, low-datarate wireless protocol has been developed to improve indoor range, power usage, and cost. This true wireless capability drastically reduces installation costs compared to wired systems.

In addition to the benefits of the underlying Halo/S platform, the BMS also introduces a new high-level control architecture called “energy workers.” These workers allow extremely complex HVAC control schemes to be elegantly organized, significantly reducing control system design and commissioning manpower.

This project will demonstrate that the BMS provides substantial energy savings for a wide range of building sizes and HVAC setups typical in the DoD small building sector. Total installed cost of the BMS will also be established by this project and compared to state-of-the-art competitors to demonstrate a 50% reduction in installed cost.

Back to Top


Installing advanced BMS systems in DoD’s small building sector would provide at least an 8% energy savings when replacing an optimized non-BMS control system, and more than 30% energy savings when replacing building controls that lack an off-hour energy reduction scheme based on simulations using eQUEST. Additionally, installing BMSs into a greater portion of small DoD buildings will provide other benefits such as improved maintenance response and energy accountability. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2016)

Back to Top


Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Mr. Anthony Colonnese

Ameresco, Inc.

Phone: 508-661-2291

Fax: 508-661-2201

Program Manager

Energy and Water