The IoT as the Nervous System of Building Automation

06.03.2024 by Ümit Günes


In building automation, the Internet of Things plays the crucial role of the information transmitter with the aim of making buildings more sustainable and more efficient.

Building automation is an indispensable tool for building owners and managers. Sustainability is growing increasingly important – along with efficiency and comfort – and now plays a central function in the planning and, later, the resource-conserving management of a building.

What Is Meant by Building Automation?

Building Automation (BA) is the automation of technological systems in order to control and optimize the functions of a building. They include Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), lighting, security systems, energy management and much more. Automating these functions enables a building to be managed and monitored intelligently, makes it a Smart Building. The Internet of Things (IoT) ensures that all components are networked and that all information is relayed reliably to the right recipients.

Building automation systems score points with flexibility. They are modular and can be expanded to fulfill changing requirements. The options they offer include remote control and monitoring, which improve efficiency and reaction capability in the event of malfunctions. The right IoT technology can even cope with the challenge of heat loss due to elevator shafts. Data collected by building automation systems enables facility management to conduct a comprehensive analysis of building operations that contributes to the continuous improvement of plant control.

What Benefits Does Building Automation Offer?

One of the central aspects of building automation is that it ensures greater energy efficiency of all technical facilities. In times of rising energy costs and climate change, sustainability plays an ever greater role. In the real estate business in particular it reduces the CO2 footprint of buildings, making a fundamental contribution to meeting ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) criteria. Smart building management minimizes wastage of energy by intelligently adjusting HVAC systems and lighting to actual requirements. Savings can be achieved in valuable resources such as water and electricity if consumption is precisely recorded and controlled. So automation delivers total transparency in respect of energy consumption and also helps to make optimal use of renewable sources of energy and distribute green electricity in the building in line with demand.

How energy-saving Is Building Automation? – An example from practice

As Germany’s second-largest electricity consumer and convinced of the need to achieve as much savings potential as possible, Deutsche Telekom founded in 2004 Power and Air Condition Solution Management GmbH. PASM is responsible for supplies all Deutsche Telekom real estate with 100 percent green electricity. It is the energy supplier for all Telekom units and companies in Germany and is also in charge of metering point operation and measurement service provision. Its systems measure electricity consumption and detect power peaks. Power purchase can be better planned as a result. PASM claims to purchase 2.5 million MWh of green electricity per year and saved in 2021 more than 270,000 MWh by means of efficiency measures.


Why Should Enterprises Invest in Building Automation?

Automated systems support the operation and maintenance of buildings, which leads to longer service life of technical facilities and maintains the value of the building. So smart building automation can help to earn the building a seal of quality: the Sustainable Building Seal of Quality (QNG, see Infobox).

What does the Sustainable Building Seal of Quality stand for?

The Sustainable Building Seal of Quality (QNG) awarded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and Construction (BMWSB) is a certification that smart buildings can receive in recognition of their sustainable construction and management. Building automation plays a decisive role in gaining and maintaining a QNG. It optimizes energy consumption and reduces environmental impact by using renewable energy, improves the quality and comfort of ambient air, saves water and helps to monitor material and resource efficiency. It also facilitates data collection and reporting to track a building’s sustainability performance. Further information at:


Optimizing energy consumption and maintenance requirements leads to considerable cost savings in the course of a building’s service life. Another important factor is the comfort for residents or employees. Modern building automation systems create a pleasant and healthy working or living environment with a positive effect on satisfaction and performance. Automated access control and adapted lighting systems help improve accessibility and safety in buildings, which in turn benefits all user groups.

Which IoT Solutions Are to be Found in Building Automation?

Building automation benefits considerably from IoT technologies that make networking and system control possible. IoT sensors monitor parameters such as temperature, humidity, light, CO2 count and motion. They provide real-time data for the optimization of HVAC systems and lighting and relay it via a built-in cellphone module to the Cloud. Or straight to the actuators: IoT devices in the Smart Building that control systems on the basis of the data the sensors collect. They regulate the temperature or dim the lighting, for example. Smart meters are also part of the building technology.

The three levels of building automation

Building automation systems are divided into three levels to organize the the complex control and monitoring of building functions:

Field level: Sensors and actuators that record and can influence physical parameters such as temperature, lighting, motion, etc. Sensors collect data continuously whereas actuators respond to instructions, such as by adjusting the temperature or regulating the lighting. Information is transmitted to the automation level.

Automation level: This is where data from the field level is processed and controlled. Algorithms and logic decide which actions are required, such as optimizing HVAC systems or activating security protocols. The automation level facilitates communication between field devices and the management level.

Managementlevel: This level serves to provide overarching control and monitoring of the entire system. It is where strategic decisions are made, data is analyzed and reports are compiled. Facility managers use it to monitor the building’s condition, manage resources and optimize performance. The management level also provides remote access to the system.


IoT platforms facilitate central control and monitoring of all systems in a building. They are the brain of technical building equipment with a remote control facility. Facility managers see transparently on the monitor screen the power consumption and performance of electrical equipment and building services. The dashboard also shows faulty operation, such as when rooms are cooled and heated at the same time, if ventilators are running when the ventilation is switched off, or if a heat pump shows unusual readings. IoT solutions help ensure efficient use of energy sources, including renewables like solar or wind power.

Infographic shows possible CO2 savings in the building sector by 2030, amounting to a total of 51 million tons.


Can IoT Optimize the Energy Consumption of Existing Buildings?

For older buildings without a smart automation system a retrofit solution might be the answer. The Proptech startup Metr, for example, has developed an automatic heating optimization system with which the real estate business can swiftly generate minimally invasive energy savings in the boiler room. Cost-intensive investment in energy-efficient building refurbishment or new plant and technology are not required.

metr’s heating monitor is a solution that provides total transparency about the heating system’s operating status irrespective of its manufacturer. Operating data is transmitted securely from the basement to the metr platform via an IoT gateway and Deutsche Telekom cellular connectivity, is evaluated by means of an AI algorithm and displayed on a dashboard. The heating system can then be operated more efficiently on the basis of the evaluated real-time data.

In addition, metr’s smart energy optimization supports energy-efficient remote operation by means of meteorological data. The virtual heating optimizer from the Cloud adjusts the heating of the building to changes in the weather. The building’s energy consumption and the resulting CO2 emissions can thereby be reduced by a further 25 percent. By using IoT technology Telekom and metr are paving the way for the real estate sector to head toward a sustainable and climate-friendly future.

How Does Building Automation Contribute to Security?

Feeling absolutely safe at home or in the office is important for residents and employees alike – and a key benefit that automation systems provide. IoT security systems integrated into building automation offer comprehensive protection from break-ins, fires and other dangers and extend to measures for critical infrastructures.

Telekom has equipped one of its customers, the specialist wholesaler Richter+Frenzel, with networked IoT gateways at all of its sites to continuously check the power supply of its routers. This smart energy monitoring is provided by so-called SMARTsockets developed by Telekom partner PSsystec. They sound the alarm automatically if they register a fault in a warehouse or store. An IoT Multi-SIM makes them independent of the customer’s. network. They are connected to Telekom’s IoT platform by NB-IoT and LTE-M and can be monitored online. If the router is defective a Telekom service team can be sent out immediately. If the power is down the Richter+Frenzel service team is called out. The IoT connection of sites ensures a much swifter response to disruptions and thus better protection of the business-critical infrastructure that the wholesaler needs in order to ensure reliable communication with customers and suppliers.

How Can Building Automation Benefit from Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence will naturally play a larger role in future building automation. If, for example, the HVAC controls in an office building are fed with room utilization data and the latest weather forecasts the system will know when a meeting room needs heating or cooling and when it doesn’t. The same principle can be applied to the cleaning of rooms. The AI platform of Telekom partner Soobr calculates for the cleaning staff by means of usage data and IoT sensor readings the ideal route on which to work through the building. Cleaning progress can be followed in real time. The technical basis of the system is connectivity via Telerkom IoT SIM cards.

In addition, a building’s digital twin facilitates predictive control and maintenance. The virtual twin simulates the behavior of plant and equipment in the building with the aid of an AI platform that calculates from operating data of the supply systems, operating hours, consumption figures and weather forecasts more efficient control of all facilities. Room temperature, CO2 count and humidity are always kept within the optimal range. That cuts costs, is sustainable and increases comfort for all users.

*List of abbreviations
Important Abbreviations Used in the Article
= Building Management
HLK = HVAC and Cooling Technology
TBM = Technical Building Management
BMWSB = Federal Ministry of Housing, Urban Development and Construction
QNG = Sustainable Building Seal of Quality
ESG = Environmental, Social, Governance
IoT = Internet of Things
AI = Artificial Intelligence
LTE-M = Long Term Evolution for Machines
NB-IoT = NarrowBand Internet of Things


Smart Building Management with IoT

Smart Building Management with IoT

Use IoT solutions to turn properties into intelligent, sustainable, safe and comfortable smart buildings that flexibly adapt to people's needs. This way, you create more value for operators, users and residents.

More about IoT in building management

Use IoT solutions to turn properties into intelligent, sustainable, safe and comfortable smart buildings that flexibly adapt to people's needs. This way, you create more value for operators, users and residents.

More about IoT in building management

Different buildings in bright sunlight.
Ümit Günes
Ümit Günes

Marketing Manager IoT

Having been with Telekom since 2008, Ümit possesses a comprehensive understanding of various facets of the Internet of Things. He has a keen interest in the digital transformation of the business world. On this blog, he shares insights into the latest developments and trends in the IoT sector that provide genuine value to customers.