Improving Building Automation Systems with 40-Year-Old Wiring


Building automation systems (BAS) are networks of digital controls used to monitor and automatically adjust building operations like lighting, HVAC, security, and more. As buildings age, the wiring infrastructure underpinning these systems can become antiquated, presenting challenges for functionality and efficiency. In this article, I'll explore the issues with integrating modern BAS technology into 40+ year old buildings and strategies for optimizing performance.

Assessing Wiring Infrastructure in Older Buildings

Before implementing improvements, it's critical to thoroughly evaluate existing wiring. Here's what I need to consider:

Thorough assessment determines what replacement or retrofitting is required before BAS improvements can be implemented.

Challenges of Integrating Modern BAS with Legacy Infrastructure

Attempting to overlay a modern BAS on infrastructure from a bygone era can cause various functionality and performance issues:

Power Supply

Data Transmission

The bottom line is that dated infrastructure hampers a modern BAS from performing optimally. Upgrades are required.

Strategies for Optimizing BAS Performance

Bringing building operations up to current standards requires an infrastructure overhaul:

Replace Wiring

Provide Clean Power

Ensure System Compatibility

With the right improvements, even 40+ year old buildings can have high-performing intelligent BAS. The key is revamping infrastructures to support it.

Real World Examples

Upgrading aging systems can yield dramatic BAS improvements, as these case studies show:

Empire State Building Retrofit

The Empire State Building's 6,500 windows were manually opened and closed using century-old controls. After a $550 million retrofit, they are now automatically adjusted by the BAS using outdoor and indoor temperature sensors to increase comfort and energy efficiency."Power use for cooling is down 38%."

Rockefeller Center Upgrade

Rockefeller Center upgraded its "outdated analog controls" for over 1,200 HVAC units to a new BAS with digital automation and analytics. The result: "24% reduction in electricity usage".


While integrating modern BAS technology into 40+ year old buildings is challenging, with comprehensive infrastructure upgrades to wiring and power supply it can be achieved. The reward is far more intelligent, efficient and responsive building automation. Assessing existing infrastructure, replacing outdated elements, ensuring compatibility, and protecting equipment are key steps to unlocking the full benefits of BAS in aged buildings.