J2 Innovations, the developer of the easy-to-configure and use software platform for building automation and IoT applications, FIN Framework (FIN), unveiled a strategic partnership with Clivet SpA that will enable the global maker of specialist HVAC systems to develop innovative HVAC plant and building optimization solutions.

By leveraging FIN, OEMs can rapidly launch their own software and control products to the market by leveraging FIN’s open platform and wide range of building automation and IoT-related functions and features.

The first FIN-based solution from this collaboration will be a highly-specialized Clivet Plant Room Controller. The controller manages and optimizes Clivet HVAC systems. An open integration framework enables compatibility with both new and legacy Clivet systems as well as 3rd party plant room components such as boilers and energy meters.

Improved energy efficiency

Through its innovative monitoring and control solutions, plant rooms can now be managed with reduced asset and maintenance cost and improved energy efficiency. The comprehensive 360-degree KPI dashboard provides the facility manager and other stakeholders with real-time information about the status and performance of the system and simplifies system diagnostics. Through its HTML5-based WebServer, operators can access the solution via desktop, mobile and tablet, from anywhere in the world at any time.

Alexander Rohweder, COO J2 Innovations: “We are thrilled to be partnering with one of the world’s leading manufacturers of HVAC systems, which envisages FIN as a central pillar in the development of the next-generation of HVAC plant and building optimization solutions.”

Rohweder continued: “Utilizing FIN Framework not only delivers Clivet with a market-leading system that reduces the maintenance regime, improves energy efficiency and increases up-time, but it also provides the manufacturer with the freedom to continuously improve its solutions throughout their lifetimes. New features and functionality can be added seamlessly - via an App concept - as technology evolves”.

Plug and play installation of preconfigured solutions

The FIN product is suited for management, control and optimization of an HVAC system, or entire small to large buildings and campuses. It is natively built on tags, supporting the Project Haystack open standard with the latest incarnation being Haystack 4. FIN provides an intuitive user-experience, intelligent data-management and analytics, simplified workflows and shares data to Cloud or other IT systems, via an IoT interface. The engineering process can be easily simplified through custom wizards that enable plug & play installation of preconfigured solutions.

Looking ahead, Domenico Canei, Control Systems and IoT R&D Manager Clivet SpA commented: “We’re very much looking forward to the journey we’re about to take alongside J2 Innovations. FIN is the most innovative software platform that has been built for supervisory, building automation and IoT applications. It will enable us to customize and improve the monitoring, control and optimization capabilities of our already HVAC systems while helping us transition to a pivotal role in the smart building, digitalization and IoT space.”

Rohweder summarized: “We think this move sets Clivet SpA apart in its industry.”

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Could Smart Systems Using Thermal Cameras Replace Thermostats?
Could Smart Systems Using Thermal Cameras Replace Thermostats?

HVAC systems should operate to ensure the comfort of individuals, not based on the temperature in a room. That’s the thinking behind a system devised by researchers that uses thermal cameras to measure the temperatures of faces in a room and adjusts operation of the HVAC system accordingly. Among other things, the scheme shifts the focus away from facilities and toward occupants, who reflect a truer measure of system effectiveness. Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a plan to use thermal cameras along with three-dimensional video cameras and artificial intelligence in lieu of traditional thermostats to control HVAC systems. Human Embodied Autonomous Thermostat The Human Embodied Autonomous Thermostat, or “H.E.A.T.,” system pairs a thermal camera with a 3-D video camera to measure facial temperature and track whether individuals are hot or cold. The temperature data is then fed into a predictive model that compares it with information about occupants’ thermal preferences. When the H.E.A.T. is newly installed, occupants “teach” the system about their preferences by periodically providing feedback via their smartphones on a three-point scale – “too hot,” “too cold” or “comfortable.” After a few days, the system learns their preferences, relates preferences to corresponding facial temperatures, and then operates independently. The system then determines the temperature that will keep the largest number of occupants comfortable with minimum energy expenditure. The University of Michigan study shows how the system can effectively and efficiently maintain the comfort of 10 occupants in a lab setting. The overarching goal is to keep the largest number of occupants comfortable with the least amount of energy expenditure. Flexible Climate Control In the post-COVID-19 age, the approach enables smarter, more flexible climate control that keeps building occupants comfortable without needing to heat and cool entire empty buildings. The more efficient, personalized approach to comfort could conceivably totally replace the use of wall-mounted thermostats. If building occupants need to wear masks and other protective gear, issues of comfort become even more complex The overarching goal is to keep the largest number of occupants comfortable with the least amount of energy expenditure The research was described in a study published in the July 2020 issue of Building and Environment. A key innovation of the approach is the ability to measure an occupant’s comfort level without requiring them to wear any detection devices, and without the need to use a camera for each occupant.     The University of Michigan research team is working with power utility Southern Company to test H.E.A.T. in their Alabama offices, where test cameras are mounted on tripods in the corners of rooms. (Permanent mounting locations would be less conspicuous.) All camera footage is deleted within seconds, thus eliminating concerns about privacy. Smart Home HVAC Tests A key innovation of the approach is the ability to measure an occupant’s comfort level without requiring them to wear any detection devices Another test will take place in an Alabama community of newly constructed smart homes; a residential system could be on the market in the next five years. Tweaks to the system could make it useful in applications beyond homes and offices, such as in hospitals where care providers struggle to stay comfortable wearing masks and protective equipment. H.E.A.T. is available as a licensable technology through the U-M Office of Technology Transfer. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, and the research team has filed patent applications related to the technology. It turns out facial temperature is a good reflection of comfort level; facial blood vessels expand to radiate additional heat if we are too hot and constrict to cool the face if we are too cold.

How HVAC Professionals Can Learn, Adapt, and Successfully Lead COVID Reopening Efforts
How HVAC Professionals Can Learn, Adapt, and Successfully Lead COVID Reopening Efforts

The current Coronavirus pandemic and the corresponding socioeconomic crisis has dealt a brutal blow to public and residential facilities alike, as businesses and management bodies worldwide are challenged to constantly ensure that their spaces are safe and healthy for occupants. As the entire world has been forced to adapt to what’s been commonly referred to as “the new normal,” one broad-ranging area has come into critical focus as a priority with a heightened sense of fear and cognizance around virus transmission: indoor air quality (IAQ). Importance of Indoor Air Quality For HVAC professionals, the importance of indoor air quality and ventilation as it relates to building efficiency and occupant comfort is nothing new, but through the introduction of new technologies and research, the topic of occupancy health and wellness as it directly relates to HVAC systems is constantly evolving and providing fresh information. However, while every facility manager, business owner or landlord wants to create a healthy building, HVAC pros are often subject to a constant push-pull dynamic that must be managed when it comes to balancing costs and utility budgets with optimized performance. Recommending improvements that will make a building healthier but may carry an added costThis conflict between competing demands can be incredibly daunting and taxing for HVAC managers looking to justify their decisions to seek out or implement new solutions. Recommending improvements that will make a building healthier but may carry an added cost, which can be a major challenge during times when budgets may be tighter than ever.The topic of reopening businesses, office buildings, schools and public gathering places has stoked prolonged debate over protocol, timing, and appropriate standards for facility management. While every state and industry will have its own set of circumstances, from an indoor air quality perspective, there are three steps that can be taken to ensure your building is offering the healthiest and smartest environment possible: Know Your Air Understanding what is in the air is the most important first step towards optimizing your building. This is critical in determining how to customize the specific needs of your space when preparing to reopen. The most common misconception about building health is that a “healthy building” has to be a newly-created structure. In reality, a healthy building is a structure where the strengths and weaknesses of the indoor air quality have been assessed, and the proper measures have been taken. HVAC professionals should implore property owners to invest in an IAQ monitoring system that monitors multiple pollutantsThis ensures that any areas lacking have been addressed and optimized - age notwithstanding. This can only be achieved through constant intelligent monitoring and familiarization with what’s in your air. HVAC professionals should implore property owners and leadership to invest in an indoor air quality monitoring system that monitors multiple indoor air pollutants. Our Airthings For Business solution, for example, tracks CO2, humidity, temperature, airborne chemicals, radon, air pressure, and light and provides 24/7 access to data that tracks changes, dangerous levels or inefficiencies over time. Once an issue is identified, HVAC professionals can then implement solutions that are curated towards a specific problem. The best part? Taking action by investing in monitoring will actually create perpetual energy savings in the future. On average, spending $40 on improving air quality in a building results in a $6,500 productivity gain. Understanding what is in the air is the most important first step towards optimizing your building Healthy Humidity When developing a reopening strategy, perhaps no indoor air quality component is more important to monitor closely than humidity. The reason humidity is so critical is because studies have proven a direct, established link between the facilitation of seasonal respiratory virus transmission, particularly flu, and the level of humidity in the air. When humidity levels are too low, it means indoor air is dry, which allows airborne drops of water and flakes of skin that contain virions and bacteria to stay airborne longer and travel farther, and tend to be resilient enough to remain infectious. In regions heavily affected by Coronavirus, such as the US Sun Belt, people spend their entire summer days breathing in circulated cooled airThis threat is compounded with the fact that public facilities such as large office buildings that operate with central air conditioning tend to have exceedingly dry air, especially in regions heavily affected by Coronavirus, such as the US Sun Belt, where most people spend their entire summer days breathing in circulated cooled air. While the CDC recommends property managers maintain humidity levels in between 30-50%, other scientific bodies disagree and believe that 40-60% is the optimal target zone. Research from Yale, among many leading institutions, has proven that indoor humidity levels which fall below the range of 40 to 60% can dramatically increase the spread of airborne viruses, including COVID-19. In fact, Dr. Stephanie Taylor, an infection control consultant for Harvard Medical School and a member of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force, has been leading a petition called 40 to 60%RH, urging the World Health Organization to establish concrete humidity standards within these parameters for public spaces. The evidence is clear that humidity levels are paramount when establishing a safe indoor environment. Ventilate In addition to focusing on humidity, ensuring the presence of proper ventilation will be a core element of any reopening strategy. When it comes to virus transmission, stale air is the enemy, and poor ventilation can also cause harmful toxins such as CO2, VOCs and radon to accumulate. The best way to manage a ventilation strategy is by monitoring and extracting data-based evidence, and deploying a tailored solution to address your issues. For airborne pollutants (also known as VOCs), monitoring their levels will give you data that indicate if you should increase ventilation, reduce the use of products that emit them or to more regularly replace air filters in your indoor fan systems. In an environment where we are in close proximity, such as the workplace, high concentrations of CO2 can build up if the air is not ventilated properly. While HVAC professionals obviously understand the importance of ventilation, operation costs clearly play a factor in strategy. Most ventilation systems run the entire day, regardless of building occupancy, which can quickly double the cost of energy, maintenance and wear on the ventilation system. It will also lead to spending much more energy on heating as the air is often delivered undercooled. Ways to potentially mitigate this would be to invest in a technology solution that offers smart monitoring of occupancy and overall air quality, or seek out alternative HVAC products such as a standalone heat recovery ventilator (HRV) instead of a one-way fan to save energy and maintain comfort. Conclusion In conclusion, between the pressures of reopening highly frequented buildings and ensuring an indoor environment that is optimized to prevent viral spread, the expertise and assistance of HVAC professionals has never been more valuable. By taking a proactive approach towards indoor air quality, achieving a balance between occupant health and operational bottom lines is well within reach.

What Has Been the Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the HVAC Market?
What Has Been the Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the HVAC Market?

Welcome to our Expert Panel Roundtable, a new feature of HVACInformed.com. We will be asking timely questions about the HVAC market and seeking out experts in the field to provide responses. Our goal is to promote a useful exchange of information on a variety of topics and to create a forum for discussion of important issues facing the industry. Launching this new feature in the middle of a global pandemic made choosing our first question quite easy. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What has been the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the HVAC market?