Open-Source Building Automation Systems for Smaller Commercial Buildings (Open BAS)

Much American business is conducted in mid-sized buildings. They also account for much of the nation’s energy use. An Open-Source Building Automation System (Open BAS) for these buildings can have a big payoff in energy efficiency.

One-fifth of U.S. energy use is in commercial buildings, more than half of which are under 50,000 square feet. Unlike their larger brothers, they are rarely equipped with a building automation system (BAS) to manage heating, cooling, lighting, and other energy-burning operations.

Why? Uses of these smaller buildings are diverse and changing, as are their types ownership, operation, and financing. In addition, the sometimes multiple mechanical systems they do employ vary in age, complexity, and controllability — a less-than-streamlined infrastructure that makes energy management a challenge.

An i4Energy team is taking on that challenge. Building on the success of other projects at i4Energy and its partner institutions, they are developing a BAS that employs an open-source IT architecture (to share expertise and services), an intuitive user interface (for easy adoption by building operators), and plug-and-play control devices (to accommodate equipment often installed over time, with a mélange of interfaces, connections, and capabilities).

The team will refine and formalize the software platform; develop controls, user interfaces, and software tools; and create a market-delivery plan. The result: a readily adoptable tool to bring new energy efficiency to smaller commercial buildings.

Research team

Carl Blumstein,Director, CIEE

Karl Brown,Deputy Director, CIEE

Therese Peffer,Program Director, Enabling Technologies, CIEE

David Culler,Chair & Professor, Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences, UC Berkeley

Alan Meier,Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Mark Modera,Professor, Civil & Environmental, Mechanical, and Aeronautical Engineering, UC Davis

Stephen Dawson-Haggerty,CTO, Building Robotics


U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy