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Unit of study_

DESC9673: Intelligent Building Control Systems

The term 'intelligent buildings' was coined some thirty years ago with the advent of Direct Digital Controls (DDC), but only recently can buildings can truly be considered 'intelligent' thanks to advances in sensor technology, control systems theory, information technology, and electronics in general. This unit presents an overview of intelligent buildings from the Building Management and Control System (BMCS) perspective, focusing specifically on Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) processes, plus other building services including security, lighting, and vertical transportation. Fundamentals of control systems theory and technology will be presented. State-of-the-art BMCS capabilities will be demonstrated in relation to optimising the environmental, workplace productivity and economic performance of buildings. Sustainability issues covered by the unit include the role of BMCS in monitoring and managing energy and carbon footprint, water resources and indoor environmental quality (IEQ). The learning outcomes of this unit of study will include sufficient understanding of building controls to enable optimum building performance. It will also provide a platform for critical analysis of control and operational strategies adopted through techniques such as diagnostics and trend logging of parameters such as energy, water, temperature, humidity, to mention a few.


Academic unit Architectural and Design Science
Unit code DESC9673
Unit name Intelligent Building Control Systems
Session, year
Semester 2, 2023
Attendance mode Block mode
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Chirag Deb,
Lecturer(s) Simon Mahoney ,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Discuss the basics of an Intelligent Building Management System (IBMS) and evaluate the potential benefits of using IBMS in buildings.
Written assessment
40% Week 08
Due date: 18 Sep 2023 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7
Assignment Design and develop an iPython file which encompasses data acquisition, time series analysis, a simple control system and plotting.
Programme files
60% Week 13
Due date: 30 Oct 2023 at 23:59
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2021 (Schedule 1).

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1.Introduction to Module 2. Introduction to Intelligent Building Management Systems (IBMS) 3. Evolution and significance of IBMS 4. Data-driven controls 5. Introduction to Assignment 1 Lecture (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO7
1. Introduction to Programming (Python) 2. Variables Tutorial (3 hr) LO4 LO6 LO7
Week 03 1. Communication protocols 2. Features and functions of IBMS 3. Building Automation and Control Networks (BACnet) 4. Case study Lecture (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5 LO7
1. Dataframes in Python 2. Handling data from sensors Tutorial (3 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 07 1.Building systems and controls 2. HVAC systems 3. Control strategies 4. Sensors in the built environment 5. Review of Assignment 1 Lecture (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
1. Time series analysis A 2. Visualisation and Plotting A Tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO5 LO6 LO7
Week 09 1.Network security 2. Security and access systems in buildings 3. Energy modelling basics 4. Introduction to Assignment 2 Lecture (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
1. Time series analysis B 2. Plotting B Tutorial (3 hr) LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 11 1.Case studies on successful IBMS 2. Research frontiers in building controls 3. AI and future of intelligent buildings 4. Review of Assignment 2 Lecture (4 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
1. Simple control models in Python Tutorial (3 hr) LO5 LO6 LO7

Attendance and class requirements

Please refer to the Resolutions of the University School: 

University of Sydney School of Architecture Design and Planning Faculty Resolutions 2022.


Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Wang, S. (2009) Intelligent Buildings and Building Automation. (Spon Press; New York)

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the fundamental principles of Intelligent Building Management Systems (IBMS)
  • LO2. understand the significance of IBMS within the commercial building contexts of performance and sustainability
  • LO3. understand the basic functionality and capabilities of IBMS: lighting, heating and cooling, ventilation, occupancy, energy efficiency, life safety, security, and facility maintenance
  • LO4. understand the principles of sensors and their role in IBMS
  • LO5. understand the logic and algorithms of IBMS
  • LO6. demonstrate skills in critical thinking and critical analysis of evidence
  • LO7. demonstrate skills in synthesising and effectively communicating technical information across the multiple disciplines comprising the IBCS/IBMS domain.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
New coordinator for this unit. Teaching activities are slightly revised.

Work, health and safety

University COVID-19 safety guidelines will be implemented for on-campus.


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