Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) - Expert Commentary

Increasing Energy Efficiency In Your Building Facility
Increasing Energy Efficiency In Your Building Facility

As our urban centers grow, so does our demand for key resources, such as energy. Currently, cities are accountable for over 60% of resource use and an estimated 70% of global carbon emissions. In the Middle East particularly, countries have experienced unprecedented population growth, increased economic activity and consequently, increases in energy consumption. Integration of sustainable systems Fortunately, industry leaders and governments are placing sustainability at the heart of regional plans for urban development. The integration of sustainable systems is no longer a value-added benefit, but rather a necessary requirement. I believe a vital element for sustainable development in our cities is energy management. Energy is a costly commodity representing an average of 25% of all operating costs in office buildings. This cost, however, can be reduced by using energy management to optimize HVAC systems employed in a building. Effective energy management Energy management involves proactive tracking, systemic management and thoughtful optimization of energy consumption in a building, with the goal of improving energy efficiency. The concept of energy efficiency takes into account a variety of factors; we must consider system design, quality of installation and maintenance, efficiency rates and personal use. If we assume a system is designed with greatest efficiency in mind, its effectiveness is still deeply impacted by installation, maintenance and use. ‘Performance drift’ issues One challenge we face with the efficiency of HVAC systems is ‘performance drift’ One challenge we face with the efficiency of HVAC systems is ‘performance drift’. When first installed, and even in the first few months, HVAC systems operate immaculately. Over time, however, component efficiency and system conditions ‘drift’ away from the originally installed operating curve, meaning that efficiency and performance of the system can degrade incrementally. The deteriorating performance of HVAC systems has consequences, such as unnecessary use of energy, resulting in higher costs and emissions, in addition to reduced comfort for building occupants. Energy efficient HVAC pumps In order to truly have an impact on energy consumption, a holistic approach must be adopted. Only by carefully examining and optimizing each part of the HVAC system, can we then find ways to improve it. In my experience with Armstrong Fluid Technology, in the last decade, the technology for HVAC pumps has been enhanced to provide up to 70% energy efficiency savings through demand-based control and parallel pumping technology. These innovations enable the pumps to operate at optimum levels, consuming as little energy as possible. Innovative smart technology Systems that incorporate innovative smart technology enable more accurate system performance analysis and optimization. Pumps can function as highly accurate flow meters that provide valuable insight for building managers and operators. Data from the intelligent connected pumps can be collected through active performance management software, which enables the HVAC system to learn, predict and optimize to deliver even greater energy efficiency and cost savings through maintained optimized performance. Systems incorporating innovative smart technology enable more accurate system performance analysis Active performance management software Active performance management software enables real time and historical data reporting that directly demonstrates system efficiency and savings. Given the global shift towards sustainable building construction, legislation on energy reporting is inevitable, therefore employing systems with this in-built capability can prove to be extremely beneficial in the future. The software can also help maintain client comfort at all times by enabling predictive maintenance. Systems can provide alerts when they detect faults, allowing for early replacement before a full breakdown. This can be particularly helpful in mission critical applications such as hospitals. Importance of analyzed data in system optimization Without the ability to analyze data, buildings managers and operators cannot properly optimize mechanical systems Evidently, collecting data is essential for many reasons, including preventing, and even reversing, the loss of energy efficiency. Without the ability to analyze data, buildings managers and operators cannot properly optimize mechanical systems, which results in unnecessary energy use, insufficient maintenance practices and any related costs. There may be hesitation in the industry to incorporate more sophisticated systems as they require initial investment, however, the returns from using more efficient mechanical systems are impressive. Executing energy upgrades for HVAC systems Simple payback on energy upgrade projects is usually reached within 3 to 5 years. Furthermore, energy savings continue for the life of the system. Properly executed energy upgrades deliver up to 40% savings on energy consumption related to HVAC operation. Savings on that level for a large facility can be impactful for business operations. Energy efficiency is not ‘visible’ but has the potential to have a transformative effect on climate change, if embraced on a large scale. If we consume energy only as we need to, then we consume less of it. This, in turn, reduces our consumption of fossil fuels and consequently our greenhouse gas emissions. Aside from short-term benefits, such as costs savings and increased operation efficiency, energy management has the ability to help conserve energy for generations to come. Embracing energy saving solutions If we embrace innovative energy saving solutions in the building services industry, then we can begin to make a difference. With the recent launch of plans for sustainable development, such as the Dubai Master Plan 2040, green infrastructure, supporting solutions, will thrive. The global shift towards embracing sustainability has made individuals and organizations call into question their impact on our planet. Embracing sustainability is no longer a preference but a strategic business approach that helps to create long-term value on a social, economic and environmental level. The role of energy efficiency, and the systems that enable it, will inevitably play a key role in creating more sustainable buildings, communities and cities.

Listen To Your Data And Use It To Achieve Your Business Goals In HVAC
Listen To Your Data And Use It To Achieve Your Business Goals In HVAC

Utilizing the latest in building connectivity, facility operators can uncover a wealth of data in their systems. The next step comes by leveraging that data with artificial intelligence (AI) and a suite of connected solutions. Data is analyzed to determine actionable items and achieve data-based outcomes that improve efficiencies, allow operators to meet budget goals, hit sustainability targets and deliver on occupants’ expectations. To make those high-level outcomes happen, collecting and using data correctly is proving to be critical. With the adoption of more smart building assets, operators are finding that they can finally understand the needs of their buildings and make informed decisions on their operation. Making better choices By helping facility operators make better choices, respond to immediate needs and plan strategically on multiple fronts, data creates value. But are operators of healthy buildings getting everything they can out of this data? Is it being nurtured to create all the efficiencies possible? The answers to those questions are usually no because there’s always more data to mine and more efficiencies to uncover. The answers to those questions are usually no because there’s always more data to mine With that in mind, facility operators need to be vigilant in their collection and use of data. There always seems to be more data to process and more value to squeeze out in an effort to reach or even exceed a facility’s business goals. This constant pressure to improve is creating new ways to use data to drive a building’s business outcomes ever higher. They include: Ensuring connectivity. Avoiding data overload. Using data to weigh competing goals. Learning progress tracking and reporting. Making smart decisions In general, the overarching concept is that listening to your data helps you make smart decisions. But there are questions about how to do it, whether one dataset is more important than another and how to make sense of it all. With those questions in mind, let’s look at each of these four points a little closer to find out how you can deliver better results. Every asset in your building, from the sensor that monitors occupancy in the third-floor conference room to the chiller unit that drives your entire HVAC system, needs to be connected to a central analytics hub. Doing so allows your system to review and analyze every angle of the operation with a goal of finding efficiencies and predicting needs. The overarching concept is that listening to your data helps you make smart decisions Possible building assets Here are a few helpful tips: Make sure you get data from all possible building assets. Recognize and overcome connectivity from legacy assets. Make sure differing OEM assets can speak to one another. And find an organizing platform to bring it all together. As your system begins collecting, sorting and analyzing data, another problem will emerge Remember, connectivity is a commodity. Is a retrofit possible at your facility? If so, then consider current efficiency and maintenance issues. As your system begins collecting, sorting and analyzing data, another problem will emerge: You have so much data you don’t know what to do with it all. That leads to questions of what information is important, and what isn’t. However, the real question is ‘How can I use all this information to meet my building’s business goals?’ Storing data forever It’s important to recognize that a smart building can collect thousands of datapoints every few minutes. So, understand that you will obtain a lot of data. Adopt a method to tag assets and define relationships that will help you make sense of all the data. Data analytics can help you sort, prioritize and take actions. Storing all data forever isn’t necessary, but you need baselines and historical benchmarks. Finally, be aware of the cost swell of storing data. You need to save only what’s important historically. Many times, building operators are caught in a tug-of-war over competing priorities. Meeting sustainability goals A long-term need may be maintaining safety while ensuring privacy in your facility One goal might be to successfully meet sustainability goals, while another might insist on running systems to meet narrow comfort constraints. Further, this tug-of-war may not be between two priorities; it might be between three or five or 10. The easiest solution is use data as your guide to a happy medium. Here are a few helpful tips: Recognize your immediate needs vs. long-term needs. For example, an immediate need may be addressing comfort requests from building occupants. A long-term need may be maintaining safety while ensuring privacy in your facility. Regardless of your needs, there will always be tradeoffs. Where can you find the right balance that aligns with your business goals? Steer your choices by using data analytics. Key Performance Indicators With your data already doing its work to give you insights, it’s critical to prove that the effort has been worth it. By understanding how to track progress and report on it, you will be able to help others understand the gains you’ve been making. From selecting and defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitoring their fluctuations, tracking and reporting is how you show value in what might have otherwise been considered an intangible benefit. To that end, create a proof-of-progress report that you are pursuing your targets To that end, create a proof-of-progress report that you are pursuing your targets. Utilize your platform to see the big picture. And keep in mind that some progress might be invisible without analysis. Remember that not all analytics are equal. Canned reports might not suit your situation, so developing custom reports is extremely valuable. Reaching successful outcomes For example, a large building portfolio owner in the U.S. might track the monetary impact of open faults to justify capital spending. Or a facility owner in Australia may generate a National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) report to deliver updates to tenants. It’s worth noting that reports also might be required by building codes or requested by an internal accounting or compliance team. Listening to your data is critical in a smart building, and just as critical is letting that data drive you toward your business goals. To reach successful outcomes, you need to make sure the data is being properly collected and analyzed, and then presented in a way that helps tracking and reporting your progress. Once those elements have been successfully balanced, you’re on your way to getting the most out of data.

Lessons In Improving Classroom Indoor Air Quality
Lessons In Improving Classroom Indoor Air Quality

Now, more than ever, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is a major focus concerning the health and safety of students and faculty within the nation’s schools. As they prepare their facilities for a return to in-person learning, school officials are being forced to get an education in the most effective ventilation solutions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infections. Even without factoring in airborne threats like COVID-19, poor IAQ can negatively affect the health and learning of students. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the presence of dampness and mold increases the risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases by 30-50%, and that students in well-ventilated classrooms tend to achieve higher scores on standardized tests than children in poorly-ventilated classrooms. Ventilation Improvements Guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that ventilation system improvements can increase the delivery of clean air and dilute potential contaminants. The World Health Organization (WHO) also emphasizes the important role that HVAC improvements can play in keeping people safe indoors: Use of Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems (DOAS) is one option to improve ventilation and IAQ "A well-maintained and operating system can reduce the spread of COVID-19 in indoor spaces by increasing the rate of air change, reducing air recirculation, and increasing the amount of outdoor air coming in. Settings that recirculate the air should not be used. HVAC systems should always be regularly inspected, maintained, and cleaned." One option to improve ventilation and IAQ that is growing in popularity is the use of Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems (DOAS). These units can process high volumes of fresh outside air, tempering and dehumidifying it to avoid putting an excessive load on the facility’s cooling and heating systems. Conditioning Air The introduction of large volumes of outside air does create some extra challenges. The process to condition the air can be energy-intensive if the conditions outside are especially hot, cold, dry, or humid. That’s led to the development of energy recovery devices, usually a plate heat exchanger or heat recovery wheel that can be used to offset the power demand of the HVAC system. The devices work by capturing energy from the previously conditioned relief air as it is expelled from the facility. The devices are typically 60% efficient allowing for a significant amount of energy can be saved. This makes the improved ventilation a far more cost-effective proposition and reduces the size of the mechanical systems needed to serve the space. Other Steps to Take In addition to increasing the ventilate rate in classrooms, facilities managers can take other steps to improve the IAQ in schools: Better filtration. Because of increased concern about pathogens, MERV 13-and-higher filters are increasingly being used in schools instead of the traditional MERV 8. The higher-rated filters are able to filter out much smaller particles, but there is a trade-off. Their usage leads to a greater indoor pressure drop than normal. This is being addressed on the manufacturer level with the increased use of electronically commutated motors within HVAC systems. Active neutralization. The CDC recommends ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) applications as a supplementary measure to improve IAQ within schools. Control dehumidification. There is a growing use of dedicated humidity control systems in facilities outside of the humid southern states. Humidity control units can dehumidify indoor air while maintaining comfortable room temperatures. Proper maintenance. When considering IAQ issues affecting schools, lack of proper maintenance of HVAC equipment can have tangible effects on the quality of life of students. According to the EPA, those schools without major maintenance backlogs have a higher average daily attendance (ADA) by an average of 4 to 5 students per 1,000 as well as a lower annual dropout rate by 10 to 13 students per 1,000. School Funding Opportunities As school systems across the U.S. evaluate the state of their HVAC systems, many will have to reckon with the need to meet modern codes and standards. Older buildings can require substantial improvements to their HVAC systems, so it is to be expected that this will be an ongoing concern. American Rescue Plan includes $130 billion in funding that school systems can also use to improve ventilation systems To lower financial barriers for schools, there are new federal funding opportunities to help local school systems improve classroom ventilation. The American Rescue Plan includes $130 billion in funding dedicated to K-12 education that school systems can also use to improve ventilation systems in their facilities. This joins the $54.3 billion that the U.S. Congress approved for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II Fund) in 2020 to allow school systems to address “preparing schools for reopening, and testing, repairing, and upgrading projects to improve air quality in school buildings.” Innovation and Quest For Improvement The federal funding can provide the opportunity for a fresh start for schools, allowing them to upgrade their HVAC systems to meet modern standards. These standards continue to evolve and new metrics such as the Integrated Seasonal Moisture Removal Efficiency (ISMRE) will continue to be developed. The ISMRE has been incorporated into ASHRAE 90.1 as part of a measure to set minimum energy efficiency standards for DOAS applications. Thanks to the industry’s ongoing innovation and quest for improvement, there is an array of critical HVAC tools available that schools can use to protect the health, safety, and quality of life of students in the classroom. Upgrading school ventilation systems is the pathway to creating the comfortable, safe learning environments that all students deserve. Now with federal funding available, school systems have a better opportunity to update their heating and cooling systems to improve air quality while benefiting from reduced operational costs due to meeting modern efficiency standards.

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