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AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a smart buildings’ biggest ally. Without it, a building could hardly be classed as smart. For building owners and managers, AI is imperative to create a secure and comfortable experience for their occupants every day. What a building platform should do is gather data from various sources from the building management system and other smart technologies, to gather it all in one place. The data should then be fed into a flexible, scalable cloud-based platform that stores it securely and standardizes the data. However, that still doesn’t make it a smart building. Building platforms integration with built-in AI Truly smart buildings are made, when building platforms are integrated with built-in AI. These technologies facilitate integration and enhanced intelligence, across a building or estate, all the while improving building operation for its occupants. They can also monitor building and equipment performance, and factor in building system data, and external input, including weather and traffic. Ultimately, this allows for Machine Learning to constantly monitor building spaces and when systems need to be optimized. This allows for increased building efficiency and lowered costs, with limited human intervention. AI offers predictive analysis in HVAC AI can also apply predictive analysis in HVAC, lighting and appliances, as well as fault detection and diagnosis AI can also apply predictive analysis in HVAC, lighting and appliances, as well as fault detection and diagnosis. Any potential issues can then be addressed, prior to something serious happening and an engineer can be sent out to fix it, with the right part, the first time itself. For rooms that aren’t in use, energy-efficiency savings can be made easily and effectively, by reducing energy consumption in those areas. AI uses sensors to monitor room occupancy and makes real-time decisions, based on the insights. Occupants can then have the optimal levels of ventilation, temperature and light for the rooms they are in, but precious resources can be saved in the rooms that aren’t. All in all, this helps both the buildings bottom line and the planet. The Personal Benefits of AI When it comes to smart building technologies, the most important aspect is that the technologies work exactly how they need to. This is why AI is such a useful tool, as every Building Manager, Operations Executive, or Health and Safety Officer can plug into the platform, and make decisions based on real-time data. This comes from creating a scalable platform in the Cloud, helping monitor and action everything from HVAC to access control, to occupant experience to fire detection. However, it’s not just those people who are responsible for the building’s operations, can get hands-on experience with AI. Many smart buildings now put their technology in the hands of each occupant, including office workers, teachers, CEOs, or nurses. Smartphone apps, unique to your building or estate, can help guide visitors from A to B, book meeting rooms or operating suites, or inform maintenance, when something goes wrong, all from the palm of their hand. AI-enabled security cameras To access buildings, users can present their access control credentials, in the form of a card or pin To access buildings, users can present their access control credentials, in the form of a card or pin, as they traditionally have, but then face a camera to further verify their identity. These cameras use AI algorithms to identify users with very high confidence and the combination of facial recognition, and traditional card access provides a higher level of assurance for secure access, while minimizing disruption for the users. Importance of utilizing the right AI technologies Buildings that utilize the right AI technologies in the right ways can be truly transformed. For building management businesses, it can closely align them to a tenant organization’s business and deliver the experiences occupants need and want. In turn, they benefit their own business, both financially and operationally. Making buildings smarter – or smart in general – will help overcome some of our most prevalent challenges. In particular, the aggressive net-zero and sustainability targets that businesses have promised to reach. For most, the issue isn’t with having the data, but rather with actioning the insights to see real change. With AI, it becomes possible, and we can start to see real changes in our buildings.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is seemingly drawing to a close, living, working and learning at home is set to continue. Under this new normal, home electricity use is expected to double by 2050. Simultaneously, as climate change devastates communities around the world, we are faced with a moral and economic obligation to cut CO2 emissions from houses. Our goal is to build Net Zero houses and we can't get there fast enough. Fossil fuels use in heating systems Many countries continue to rely on coal, oil, or gas to power their heating systems. Continuing to rely on these fossil fuels, to keep us warm through harshening winters and cool throughout intensifying summers, simply adds to CO2 emissions. In fact, households account for 72% of global greenhouse gas emissions and energy-intensive HVAC systems are a core contributor to this. Whether you live in a hot or cold country, the result is the same - unsustainable carbon emissions. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is the inception point for homes to become sustainable. Sustainable standards in the home Regulation is already driving change in countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands It’s crucial that efforts to cut emissions don’t also cut living standards. Turning the heating off and suffering through the cold just isn’t an acceptable solution. The priority should be to cut emissions, not necessarily power consumption. Therefore, the use of clean energy for heating and cooling, as well as heating with ambient heat and heat pumps, could be an effective solution. Regulation is already driving change in countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. In these countries, fossil fuels are being banned where more sustainable, renewable alternatives are available, chiefly for powering homes. Some countries use other mitigation strategies: in California, for example, all new homes must be fitted with solar panels by law. Heat pumps popular in Europe As another way to sustainably power homes, heat pumps have already proven extremely popular in Europe, especially in Scandinavian nations. Electricity in these countries is already generated mainly by climate-friendly wind and hydropower. According to calculations by Fraunhofer ISE, heat pump systems in Sweden generate 90% fewer carbon emissions, in comparison to heating systems that rely on natural gas. Electrical vehicle (EV) charging However, renewable generation alone won’t be enough. When the wind isn’t blowing or the sun shining, renewable energy sources can suffer intermittency issues. Sadly, we’re not yet at the point, when all our domestic power needs can depend on renewable energy Electrical vehicle (EV) charging, which is becoming more popular, is a heavy load and expensive to charge at peak times. This can force us to switch back to traditional carbon-based sources when our power needs outstrip supply. Sadly, we’re not yet at the point, when all our domestic power needs can depend on renewable energy. At least, not without assistance from digital technology. Sustainable smart home technology To decisively cut emissions in the home, clean energy must be paired with the use of sustainable smart home technology. IoT-connected sensors and intelligent systems can provide the deep insight that we need to make impactful and responsible energy decisions. Effective energy management is central to efforts to decarbonize our dwellings. A lot of the energy consumed by HVAC is inevitably wasted, either through forgetting to turn it off, when it’s no longer needed, or heating rooms that aren’t occupied for most of the day. Preventing this becomes much easier, once you have visibility and control through smart energy management systems. Smart systems enable efficient renewable energy use Any home can be digitally retrofitted to become more efficient. Once energy is made visible through digital and IoT (Internet of Things), only then it can be measured and analyzed. Consumers are then empowered to make small changes to their consumption habits, to reduce wasted energy and its resulting emissions. Smart systems can also facilitate more efficient use of renewable energy sources. When all smart systems are interconnected under one platform, AI algorithms can automatically adjust what source the house draws energy from. Combining digital retrofits, energy storage, and management When a home has access to energy storage technology, it can store up excess power generated by renewable sources When a home has access to energy storage technology, it can store up excess power generated by renewable sources, which can be used later, when the power demand is high. This ensures that non-renewable energy sources are only tapped, when absolutely necessary. By combining digital retrofits, energy storage, and robust AI-powered energy management solutions, we can decarbonize our HVAC systems and our homes. A smart, connected approach to consumption can keep us warm in winter and cool in summer, without impacting the biodiversity around us. Smart homes: Powering change As our homes become fitted with more advanced IoT-connected devices, the ability to effectively manage our homes’ energy needs is indisputable. To keep costs and emissions down, a secure interoperable power management system is crucial, to becoming more sustainable and enhancing our quality of life. Businesses and governments need to ensure that people have the freedom to make sustainable living choices within the home, which don’t undermine living standards.
Seasonal transitions are the perfect time to take inventory and inspect a building’s various systems. We’ve been reminded for years that when we set our clocks back, we should also replace the batteries in our smoke detectors. The same thought process can be applied in support of seasonal preventative maintenance for a building’s HVAC system. Now that the cooling season has passed for a large part of the country, it is time to ensure that HVAC systems have been shut down properly for the winter months. A few simple checks and changes help ensure that the HVAC system is able to transition without failure, from the cooling season to the heating season. Enhancing energy efficiency of HVAC systems Home and building owner inspections can go a long way in increasing the energy efficiency of a system or in mitigating a more complex system failure. Taking a few minutes to inspect an HVAC system for irregularities can help keep repair costs and energy waste to a minimum. Here is a short and easy to complete HVAC inspection check list to execute to help maintain the system and ensure it runs in an energy efficient manner as the outdoor temperature begins to fall. Air filters The change of seasons is the perfect time to change out an HVAC system’s air filter The change of seasons is the perfect time to change out an HVAC system’s air filter. Filters are a key point in a building’s HVAC system, helping keep dust, pollen and larger particulate matter out, and potentially saving it from damage. HVAC equipment accounts for 40 percent of energy usage in a building, so any actions that positively affect energy efficiency are impactful. Not only is changing filters easy to do, but it also provides several benefits, such as improved energy efficiency, cost savings and it helps limit unnecessary stress on the HVAC system, by keeping the air entering it as clean as possible. Dirty, unchanged filters are a leading cause of issues with an HVAC system. The bottom line is that an air filter that has not been changed since the summer needs to be replaced. Inspect the HVAC system Now is a good time to walk around and view the entirety of a building’s HVAC system. How does it look? Make sure the system is clean and in good repair. Examine the ducts to ensure they are clean, undamaged and venting properly. If they are dirty or if there is suspicion that they are clogged, a duct cleaning by a professional may be needed. Remove any leaves or sticks that have gathered around the compressors. Clean the coils of any debris with a garden hose. Trim back any trees or bushes, which are in close contact with the unit. Make sure the condenser unit is still level. If it is not, it can impede the flow of refrigerant and oil, thereby leading to costly repairs. Take a look at the HVAC system to make sure there are no leaks, cracks or structural damage. A quick scan around and cleanup of an HVAC system can help it run longer and more efficiently. Inspect the boiler system Inspect the boiler system by looking for signs of old leaks, which can include stains around the boiler Corrosion is often associated with boiler systems. Inspect the boiler system by looking for signs of old leaks, which can include stains around the boiler or warped floorboards under radiators. Also, be on the lookout for water spots on the ceiling that is below the floor with radiant heat pipes. Make note of any corrosion you find throughout the system, including on the radiators, valves and other components. It’s a smart idea to have a professional inspect a boiler system each year, in order to maintain its functionality and ensure it is running safely, and optimally for a long time. Air Leaks An inspection may also reveal air leaks around doors and windows. These small leaks can add up to significant heat loss and energy costs. If sunlight is peeking through the areas around the perimeter of a window, door or skylight, there’s an air gap to be filled. A quick fix with caulking or weather stripping can ensure optimal energy efficiency. Also, inspect window panes for any cracks, as they will need to be replaced. Furthermore, double check that the windows and doors all close and lock properly. If they don’t, there’s an air leak that needs repair, as well. An inspection of doors and windows can keep a house warmer longer, and help keep the furnace from running over time to maintain a building’s ideal temperature. Shut down AC system for the season At the end of the cooling season, it is recommended that the air conditioning side of the HVAC system be shut off. When doing this, take a few minutes to clean the compressor with a brush and vacuum. Cover the unit with an insulated, waterproof cover that completely covers the whole unit. Secure the cover tightly, so it stays in place over the winter. This simple maintenance can help set up the system for success next year, while also maintaining its energy efficiency. Need for proactive system inspections and maintenance It’s important to evaluate a building’s HVAC system every season, as well as maintain its filters It’s important to evaluate a building’s HVAC system every season, as well as maintain its filters and the environment around the system. Being proactive about systems inspections and maintenance is the best way to keep a system running at peak efficiency, saving money and the environment, as well as providing peace of mind. With a few simple actions, home and building owners can keep their HVAC systems in good shape for longer, and be ready to go for the next season ahead. Motili’s predictive analytics improves budgeting accuracy Motili brings contractors, operations teams and the industry’s most advanced property management technology platform together, to assess and complete HVAC work requests, from start to finish. Motili automatically schedules, dispatches, manages and invoices job requests, and its predictive analytics improves budgeting accuracy, by predicting product life cycle. Motili leverages its nationwide network of over 2,000 contractors and 1,000 distribution centers, in order to provide HVAC and hot water services, across the United States of America, to customers both large and small in size.
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