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We visit the doctor for yearly check-ups and take our vehicles to a mechanic for maintenance and oil changes. The same idea applies to an HVAC system. An HVAC system can run around 2,000 hours per year and is a building system that is constantly expending energy. Without preventative maintenance, it is much more likely that a building owner could be overlooking silent issues that could cause a system to break down long before it should. Preventative maintenance is catching on for a reason. A 2021 survey from The Colling Media Snapshot asked homeowners across the US about preventative maintenance. The survey stated that during the last time they had an HVAC service, 41% of homeowners had a preventative maintenance inspection of their HVAC system. The importance of preventative maintenance is resonating with homeowners and commercial property owners are no exception. Below are three reasons why commercial property owners and managers should keep preventative maintenance top of mind: Tenant Satisfaction Preventative maintenance can affect the satisfaction and the length of stay of residents For commercial property owners, tenant satisfaction is a top priority. Preventative maintenance can affect the satisfaction and the length of stay of residents. The Rental Protection Agency states that repair problems are the third most common complaint in residents nationwide, which includes heating and cooling. Busy season for contractors occurs during the hot summers when outside temperatures are extreme and homeowners are excessively running their units. The typical HVAC contractor carries a backlog of 2-3 weeks’ worth of work during the busy season. Summers without air conditioning can be miserable for residents and detrimental to a building’s reputation and retention if system failures are not fixed quickly enough. Staying on top of preventative maintenance is a proactive strategy to mitigate emergencies. Capital Planning Planning for routine services is important for all HVAC owners and operators as neglecting preventative maintenance can devastate a budget. This is especially true if you are a commercial property owner or manager as overlooking preventive maintenance could cause failure to multiple HVAC systems and exponentially increase the cost of repair and throw a property owner even further out of budget. In addition to reducing last-minute emergencies, keeping the maintenance and replacement history of a building’s HVAC systems is important when it is time to sell a commercial property. How well a system is maintained can affect the sale price of a property, especially as buyers from the coasts expect up-to-date HVAC systems. Data-Driven Decision Making IoT coupled with sensors and wireless networks provide perspective into both predictive and prescriptive analytics In commercial properties, HVAC systems consume more than 30 percent of the total energy use of a building. The Internet of Things (IoT) coupled with sensors and wireless networks provide perspective into both predictive and prescriptive analytics that can assist in decision making. With this data, building owners and maintenance techs can understand which systems are consuming the most energy, which ones are the most energy-efficient, and can identify when systems are breaking down. These actions provide a runway of time to proactively fix system failures before the cost to repair is greater than the cost of replacement.
In today’s world, we spend almost 90 per cent of our time indoors, in our workplaces, leisure areas and our homes. It is no secret that the built environment has been relatively slow in its embrace of information technology and automation. According to KPMG’s ‘Building a Technology Advantage’ report, fewer than 20 percent of construction and engineering executives, and major-project owners said they are re-thinking their business models, so as to incorporate new technology. Yet, it has now become a necessity, as energy efficiency becomes a more prominent topic discussion, which is leading to sweeping changes across all aspects of our lives and none more so than in the built environment. Commitment to net-zero emissions Governments are beginning to impose tighter restrictions on building use, energy consumption and emissions. Policymakers around the world are committing to net-zero emissions targets, with more than 60 countries pledging to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. For example, the European Union (EU) is committed to become a carbon-neutral economy, with net-zero emissions by 2050 and all new buildings within the EU must be constructed as near-zero energy buildings. Meanwhile, China has legislated that at least 30 per cent of all new buildings must be ‘green’. Smart technology to better manage HVAC Technology can help optimize energy consumption and create energy efficiency in our buildings Given this new trend towards energy efficiency in the real estate sector, smart technology is needed to better manage HVAC and energy consumption. Buildings currently contribute 40 per cent of global carbon emissions, a problem exacerbated by extreme weather conditions across the globe, which increases demand for electricity, as more people rely on air conditioning for cooling. Technology can help optimize energy consumption and create energy efficiency in our buildings, alleviating many of the problems that we have today. Technology enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) can optimize comfort and safety, while providing remote operability and access to everything from HVAC systems to security cameras. At the same time, data collection and integration with cloud-based services allow for powerful energy efficiency measures. Designing and operating Smart buildings The concept and operation of smart buildings is not new. Architects and developers have been installing separate systems to control lighting and HVAC for decades. Later systems have evolved and helped building managers control access to different areas of a site, mitigate fire risk and protect against power surges. What is new is the addition of web-based platforms, in order to allow these verticals to integrate seamlessly with each other. The building of tomorrow is achievable today, using the latest in automation intelligence to control lighting, air-conditioning and heating. With these digital solutions, everything can be controlled remotely and allow for complete control, whenever it is needed most. Increased use of smart technology The first step in managing HVAC energy is to understand exactly how much is being used and where it is used. With this information at hand, managers can highlight areas for improvement, which in turn will help a building become more efficient and ultimately, save money. Another step in managing HVAC energy is including smart technology alongside your system Another step in managing HVAC energy is including smart technology alongside your system, as it can minimize maintenance costs. Predictive fault-finding can save maintenance time and labor, as well as minimizing downtime for expensive equipment or services. It is estimated that smart-enabled predictive maintenance is three to nine times cheaper than a traditional reactive approach. Tenant and occupant satisfaction are often also higher, as systems that experience failure can be identified, repaired and re-booted quickly. Smart building systems Smart building systems, such as ABB i-bus KNX ClimaECO and ABB Cylon BACnet solutions, can combine HVAC in one holistic solution, from central control and management of heating and cooling systems, down to room-level automation. Smart systems simplify the implementation of intelligent automation in modern buildings and using pre-installed algorithms, can make autonomous decisions on things, such as adjusting lighting and HVAC levels, to reflect time of day, external environment, occupancy levels or other variables. Additionally, data collection and data analysis enabled by IoT allows for increased knowledge and better predictions of use. Working with a smart building, which is interconnected, can act and learn on this data, while providing remote access to data and analytics for human oversight. The ROI of smart technology implementation In addition to legislation driving change, being ‘smart’ provides other real benefits for developers and owners. As a building adapts to the demands of its users or the goals of its managers, it can save energy, cut emissions and reduce energy costs. More effective and efficient use of power can save money, quickly repaying initial technology expenditure Comparing energy savings to the falling cost of installing a basic smart management system, smart buildings immediately prove their worth. According to HSBC, if a smart system delivered an energy cost saving of 25 per cent, on an installation cost of US$ 37,500, for a 50,000 sq. ft building, the annual savings could be as much as US$ 23,000, giving a payback period of less than two years. More effective and efficient use of power can save money, quickly repaying initial technology expenditure. HVAC and lighting alone can account for about 50 per cent of energy use in an average commercial building, but by incorporating smart automation, managers may see decreased energy costs of up to 30 to 50 per cent. Leading the fight against climate change Technologies, such as IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are crucial to help us in the fight against climate change. These technologies help users, owners, operators and facility managers interact with the buildings of the future effortlessly, with personalized comfort and maximum efficiency. Artificial Intelligence and IoT is constantly in a state of evolution, as more applications for the technology are discovered. Given the ever-changing nature of technology, the possibilities for smart buildings in the future are endless.
A quick glance at official COVID-19 mitigation guidance reveals that it promotes increased ventilation air change rates, as the most effective way to keep people safe. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just open a window or turn up your ventilation system, if you have one. The fact is, however, that the vast majority of domestic properties in Britain does not have a mechanical ventilation system and rely on natural means for background ventilation, including windows, trickle vents or air bricks. In short, homeowners or tenants must physically open windows, after having decided whether they want to. This is an imperfect system for several reasons. Firstly, cold or wet weather might lessen an open window’s appeal and secondly, natural ventilation is a weather dependent process, as sometimes there’s simply no air movement. In other words, a natural ventilation strategy does not guarantee effective ventilation. With an airborne virus still being transmitted across the country, it’s important to understand the best options available to combat the spread. Building to minimum standards Building using a strategy that comprises natural background ventilation is the simplest, easiest and cheapest method of compliance to Part F: Building Regulations. That’s why it is the most common. We call this building to ‘minimum standards’. The problem with this approach, which is perfectly legal and entirely acceptable to Building Control, is that it often leads to problems caused by insufficient ventilation, such as condensation, mould, dust mites and odors, once the building is occupied. This issue has been made far worse, in recent years, since we committed to the 2050 Climate Change Targets This issue has been made far worse, in recent years, since we committed to the 2050 Climate Change Targets and started retrofitting insulation improvements to millions of existing properties. Our already well-sealed properties were sealed up even further, thereby causing all the moisture and pollutants produced by the occupancy to stay in the house, unless ventilated away. Pros and cons of positive input ventilation Positive input ventilation (PIV) is a highly effective means of dealing with such issues. PIV systems can be retrofitted into existing buildings, in order to improve the rate of background ventilation and eliminate the problems mentioned earlier. PIV is widely accepted in social and private housing, because it is unobtrusive, not behavior dependent, easy to install, highly cost effective and improves building energy efficiency. PIV can, therefore, help increase air change rates for naturally ventilated buildings. Unfortunately, however, new problems can emerge through the use of such systems. Increasing ventilation can create thermal comfort problems, leading to expensive heating bills and uncomfortable occupants. Rise in outdoor pollution ingress It can also increase outdoor pollution ingress, which, in turn, can exacerbate health issues and lead to deadly asthma triggers, as confirmed by the ruling in the Ella Kissi-Debrah inquest. In short, PIV and other ventilation strategies, despite comprising filtration, can still let pollutants in. On top of these issues is viral particles emitted indoors, a key concern in the current climate, which can be displaced faster by more air changes and are not easily destroyed. This arguably means the rate of transmission remains high. What is needed is a retrofit solution that achieves all the benefits of PIV, while removing and destroying indoor and outdoor pollutants, including viral/microbials. Active PIV is that solution. Active PIV: A huge step forward Active PIV with Photohydroionisation (PHI) increases fresh air ventilation air change rates Active PIV with Photohydroionisation (PHI) increases fresh air ventilation air change rates, thus reducing indoor humidity and providing safe, and effective active air purification throughout the indoor environment. Most importantly, it complies with COVID-19 mitigation guidance and removes, and destroys pollutants from both indoor and outdoor sources, including odors, VOCs, radon and other gases, allergens, such as pollens, mould, pet dander and dust mite faecal matter, particulates, including smoke or traffic soot, and viral/bacterial emissions, including SARS-CoV-2, at the point of transmission. This level of protection is not possible with increased ventilation alone or passive air treatments, such as filtration, UV, PCO, or ionization. Active PIV, therefore, provides an extra layer of indoor protection, over and above PIV that is continuous and not behavior dependent. PHI technology delivers active air purification The PHI technology that delivers active purification essentially mimics Earth’s natural air cleaning processes. Minute concentrations of ionized hydro peroxides are created, whenever there is sunlight, water vapor and oxygen present. These active molecules break down and destroy pollutants on contact, and revert back to water vapor and oxygen afterwards. Active PIV recreates this process in an indoor setting, constantly replenishing new active molecules to replace the spent ones. It is perfectly safe to breathe and effective against all three categories of indoor air pollutants, including: Particulates Microbial Gases Active PIV to counter COVID-19 pandemic Active PIV is the perfect innovative response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be easily and quickly retrofitted, and its effect is instant. For social housing managers, it delivers the best possible protections to the indoor spaces, which are occupied by the tenants for whom they are responsible. In terms of both its innovation and effects, Active PIV technology is the breath of fresh air that the ventilation industry and a pandemic-stricken world sorely needs.
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