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Over the last year, we’ve become all too familiar with the risk posed by a deadly airborne virus, but, as we move out of lockdown, there are other airborne hazards we urgently need to fight. However, while advice and guidance are abundant in the use of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in combating the spread of COVID-19, there has been very little said of the risk of using HVAC systems after a prolonged period of inactivity. As those familiar with HVAC systems know, air conditioning and ventilation systems are designed to be used regularly, if not constantly. Enclosed and moist environments As systems convey air and/or cool it, systems build up moisture and, having been inactive for many months, if not for a whole year, these humid, enclosed, and moist environments will have become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and fungus. Mould or mildew can grow in air ducts, filters, or vents as well as in drip pans and coils Mould or mildew can grow in air ducts, filters, or vents as well as in drip pans and coils. It spreads through the production of microscopic spores which float through the air and deposit on surfaces. In the right environments, these spores can form mold colonies, where they can then produce more spores that can be spread further. Worse, these spores can survive and linger in an atmosphere for long periods, and some molds can be deadly. Exposure to mold Now imagine that a contaminated HVAC system, which has been inactive for weeks, months, or even a whole year, is switched back on: Immediately, a current of air carries the spores through the ducting before projecting them out across every inhabited space, ready for workers, shoppers or visitors who are venturing out after lockdown to touch, inhale, eat or drink. As well as smelling musty and unpleasant, mold exposure can cause cold or allergy-like symptoms such as a stuffy nose, cough, or sore throat as well as headaches, nausea, skin and respiratory diseases. It can also be particularly dangerous to people who are immunocompromised or who have conditions such as asthma. Routine maintenance It sounds disgusting, but the risk is very much real. Unfortunately, there has been very little advice or guidance from the UK government to make property managers or users aware of this issue and so many will have neglected to protect themselves and their workers or visitors. Mould has always been able to grow inside HVAC systems, and this is why owners are obliged to have them regularly serviced. But unless that routine maintenance has gone ahead as planned throughout the lockdowns, and unless their systems have been inspected and disinfected again before opening, COVID-19 will be just one of many airborne health hazards people will face this summer. No clear warnings Government guidance encourages the use of various HVAC systems as part of its COVID-secure strategies Of course, the UK is not the only country to have imposed lockdown restrictions, and, over in America, their health authority, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published warnings around this. But, here in the UK, there have been no such messages: Government guidance encourages the use of various HVAC systems as part of its COVID-secure strategies, but it makes no clear warnings about the particular risk of using these after a period of prolonged inactivity. Mitigated risks I suspect that while larger workplaces with dedicated property managers and close connections to professionals such as ourselves will be more likely to have mitigated these risks, countless other organizations will not: I’m particularly concerned about small offices, hotels, restaurants, pubs, holiday cottages, and shops which may have systems unchecked for years and which would have had their hands full with other problems that were more pressing than maintaining an HVAC systems no-one is using. Cleaning and disinfecting HVAC Enhanced cleaning in other respects could also have made matters worse; if, for example, a carpet was shampooed at the start of lockdown and the HVAC system was turned off, a property manager will have inadvertently created the perfect environment for mold to thrive. Fortunately, HVAC systems can be disinfected and cleaned to make them safe again, but with so little awareness, many system owners will not be taking these steps. Action against mold However, while there may not be specific guidance in relation to the risk of mold in HVAC systems after lockdown, there are still laws in place which oblige property managers to take action. These include the Health & Safety at Work Act, The Workplace Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations, Occupiers Liability Act, and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. As a result, employers or property managers may be liable for illness or harm which may occur from the use of contaminated systems. As we approach the end of the lockdown restrictions, I would urge all HVAC engineers, property managers, and property maintenance professionals to immediately reach out to clients and warn them of this danger, because the last thing we need is another health crisis.
Across the globe, annual food loss amounts total to approximately 1.3 billion tons of waste and 4.4 gigatons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To put that in perspective: If food waste were a country, it would rank as the third largest GHG emitting country in the world, surpassed only by the United States and China. The average supermarket, which brings in about $35M in annual revenue, will see $526,590 worth of food waste and 3,600 MWh worth of wasted energy use, where about 2,000 MWh is used for refrigeration—the equivalent of 170 households. SaaS for temperature monitoring Clearly, there is both an economic and sustainability burden to food loss besides the revenue loss and environmental impact. Luckily, this burden can be eased when using Software as a Service (SaaS), like food temperature monitoring. Supermarkets who monitor their food temperatures will improve their margins and overall profitability by selling food at its full price rather than marked down due to over ripening or close to expiration date. This, in turn, will deliver improved customer satisfaction because supermarkets will be able to continue to stock fresh food while minimizing the sale of old and ripened provisions.Supermarkets who monitor their food temperatures will improve their margins and overall profitability There are many benefits of using SaaS to improve supermarket efficiency, which can help to reduce food waste and lower energy costs in countless supermarkets worldwide. Many of the roughly 50,000 food retail locations that utilize electronics controllers use some level of SaaS technology like Alsense Food Retail Services, the newest cloud offering from Danfoss Climate Solutions for supermarkets and food retail applications. Alsense Food Retail Services is a sustainable, scalable, and secure modern platform that delivers tangible data to improve operational and energy efficiency while optimizing the performance of food retail operations. Its technology is engineered to provide supermarkets with actionable insights that allow you to track refrigeration asset performance, respond to alarms, integrate 24/7 monitoring, reduce energy consumption, and more to deliver savings as high as a 40% reduction in food waste and 30% decrease in energy costs. Examples of food loss prevention with Alsense Food Retail Services The sensor in the meat fridge notices a high temperature and submits an alarm to the cloud The alarm is analyzed by the Danfoss Enterprise Service Team (Managed services) The reason for the alarm is determined and a service provider is contacted The service provider is dispatched to the supermarket to fix the issue in the meat fridge to avoid food loss Danfoss’ advanced algorithms detect if the refrigeration systems are running efficiently or if they are over consuming energy Alsense Food Retail Services is a sustainable, scalable, and secure modern platform that delivers tangible data to improve operational and energy efficiency while optimizing the performance of food retail operations aktiv & irma, a supermarket in North Germany, has shown significant savingsWithout SaaS, the store’s ROI will take much longer than if you rely solely on the hardware as part of the Alsense Food Retail Services pilot program. In collaboration with Danfoss, they installed a solar photovoltaic system, storage system, and a charging station for guests. All major assets in the supermarket system are linked through the Alsense Food Retail Services cloud to manage loads and eliminate unnecessary peaks to best use each store’s energy. Regulating energy levels is accomplished through a variety of methods that offer potential savings: Load shifting: As high as 20 kW in additional peak reductions ($1,758.30 potential savings). Compressor curtailment Solar: 112 MWh electricity produced ($16,410.80 savings) Battery: Grid demand reduced by 40 kW ($3,516.60 savings) Peak load shaving: Charging station is throttled if needed to maintain target max peak level in the store. ($2,344.40 potential savings) aktiv & irma saved about 15% in additional energy costs and reduced over 70 tons of CO2 for a total savings of $20,168.80 compared to other supermarkets. For supermarkets that are considering marrying SaaS with their hardware expenditure, the return on investment (ROI) will depend largely on their level of SaaS investment. Without SaaS, the store’s ROI will take much longer than if you rely solely on the hardware. To put it simply, the more robust the SaaS program, the quicker supermarkets will see a return on the overall system investment. Alsense Food Retail Services? A zero-net, even net positive, billable energy supermarket is possible. The prerequisites to make these savings happen are based on energy efficiency, particularly reducing overall consumption and onsite heat and electricity generation and storage. Energy arbitrage services can enable energy bill optimization. Essentially, this means that energy can be stored in a battery and used when prices in the grid are high.Precooling can also be used to cool down cabinets before prices increase Precooling (curtailment) can also be used to cool down cabinets before prices increase. Another option is to turn off compressors for as long as possible when the energy prices are high. This means temperatures will drift upwards, so turn on the compressors before the temperature compromises food quality. Lastly, supermarkets have further potential to balance the grid via fast Frequency Response, peak Load Shifting, and seasonal Buffering. SaaS technology, like Alsense Food Retail Services, is a strong compliment to hardware assets that can help supermarkets achieve higher profitability and food loss and waste reduction. If a supermarket aims to go zero- or positive-net, the solution is to invest in both hardware and SaaS.
Lennox Industries, a trusted brand for over 125 years, unveiled updates to a whole-home heating and cooling system that is already recognized as the best in the industry. The Ultimate Comfort System™ combines the best of the Dave Lennox Signature® Collection to create an unprecedented whole-home comfort system that seamlessly and intelligently works together to stay finely tuned to home and deliver consistently clean, perfect air. According to a new survey commissioned by Lennox, approximately 3-in-5 homeowners say they are prioritizing air quality in their home now more than they did a year ago, and 61% of homeowners say they are willing to spend money to improve the quality of air in their home. Effect of air quality “For many homeowners, the past year has reinforced the fact that air quality has a direct effect on our health and how we feel,” said Kim McGill, Vice President of Marketing, Lennox Industries. “With the Ultimate Comfort System, homeowners can feel confident that their family is receiving the highest level of indoor air quality imaginable through the quietest, most efficient system on the market.” The Ultimate Comfort System brings together the best products to achieve perfect air Lennox has been in the pursuit of perfect air from the beginning, ensuring that the air in the home meets their exact comfort needs and is the healthiest and cleanest it can be. From the moment the Ultimate Comfort System is installed in one’s home, the system brings together the best products to achieve perfect air across four categories: consistent perfection, complete control, unmatched efficiency, and beyond quiet. Consistent Perfection Perfect air in a home is clean, healthy, precise, responsive, and in constant motion. It starts with variable speed, which leads to clean, precisely controlled air that is finely tuned to one’s personal degree of perfection no matter what room one is in. The SLP99V Variable-Capacity Gas Furnace, SL28XCV Air Conditioner, and XP25 Variable-Capacity Heat Pump keep air perfect by continuously circulating and making adjustments to the air. This ongoing movement ensures the air is cleaner and maintains the ideal humidity by passing it through both the air purification and dehumidification systems. The quality of indoor air has taken on greater importance than ever before. In fact, more than two-thirds of homeowners say they would consider purchasing an air filtration system if it could remove COVID-19 from their air. That’s why after rigorous testing, Lennox announced its PureAir™ S Air Purification System, with the Lennox Healthy Climate™ Carbon Clean 16® air filter, removes over 99% of the virus that causes COVID-19 from the air. Complete Control Lennox’ iComfort® S30 Ultra Smart Thermostat is the ultimate controller for precise comfort with a fully digital system Lennox’ iComfort® S30 Ultra Smart Thermostat is the ultimate controller for precise comfort, providing homeowners with a fully digital system at their fingertips. With the S30, homeowners only need to set their ideal temperature once, and the system will work intelligently to respond to changes in temperature or humidity. The smart thermostat opens up a world of enhanced diagnostics, and even prognostics, to ensure the system stays perfectly tuned to one’s home and is quickly and accurately serviced. This feature is especially critical to 10% of homeowners who admit they’ve never serviced their HVAC system and over a quarter (26%) of homeowners who admit they don’t know how often to replace their HVAC system’s air filter. Unmatched Efficiency Energy efficiency ranks as the most important feature regarding home HVAC systems with nearly 4-in-5 (79%) of homeowners stating that having an energy-efficient home is a top priority. The Ultimate Comfort System is the most efficient system the industry has ever seen. The SLP99V Variable-Capacity Gas Furnace boasts up to a 99% gas efficiency rating, which means it converts every last bit of energy into heating the home. Additionally, the SL28XCV Air Conditioner achieves efficiencies of up to 28 SEER and has been designated as one of the Most Efficient ENERGY STAR® certified products in 2021. Beyond Quiet The System is the quietest system and is engineered to run at variable capacity and variable speed With the pandemic forcing 43% of homeowners to work from home, a quiet HVAC system has never been more critical. In fact, more than a third (39%) of homeowners admit to wanting to turn off their heater or air conditioner because it was too loud. The Ultimate Comfort System is the quietest system on the market and is engineered to run at variable capacity and variable speed to drastically minimize the sound of air turning on or off in the home. Additionally, a special sound-dampening system absorbs outdoor noise so one can be assured it’s operating at a noise level that is unheard of. From heating and cooling to air purification and effortless controls, every component of the Ultimate Comfort System works seamlessly together to deliver on the promise of a healthy, comfortable home. Lennox customers can feel confident they are receiving the industry’s most advanced products for consistently perfect air.
LENNOX EMEA, a company in the design and manufacture of heating, air conditioning, air treatment, and refrigeration equipment, through its three brands Lennox, Friga-Bohn, and HK Refrigeration, is hosting a content-rich ‘Learning Month’, which will run from April 15th to May 15th. Learning Month will comprise a series of free online webinars (in local languages) that provide professionals in the HVAC-R (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration) industry with targeted insight and strategy to take their skills to the next level. Regulatory changes Among the primary ambition of these enlightening webinars is to provide information and guidance on new industry developments and trends. There will be a particular focus on different European regulatory changes, such as F-Gas and EcoDesign 2021, giving customers the essential keys to prepare for the high season and maximize potential gains. A comprehensive understanding of regulatory changes is vital for all professionals in the HVAC-R sector, from consultants and design engineers to installers, facility managers, and maintenance personnel. Delivered by the renowned Lennox University, each webinar focuses on a specific topic identified as an ‘area of concern/interest’ through discussion with customers. Use of A2L in refrigeration For example, the first webinar will center on the use of A2L in refrigeration applications. Taking place on April 15th and available in English, Spanish, and French, refrigeration installers and wholesalers will learn more about A2L refrigerants, their composition, and their use in line with current regulations. Relevant regulation studies will reveal the main benefits of A2L refrigerants, while participants will also discover more about the calculation for permissible refrigeration charge/load limits and the principles of risk analysis. Refrigerant transition Staying abreast of regulatory changes is paramount from the perspective of sector professionals, so this webinar presents a great opportunity to build knowledge and learn more about the refrigerant transition. HVAC Applications Installers, engineers, and end-users learn more about R32 as an A2L refrigerant, its suitability, and its applicable regulations in the webinars Subsequent webinars focus specifically on HVAC applications. For instance, on April 22nd, Lennox, through refrigerant comparison, will explain why R32 is a wise choice for rooftop units and how to achieve a smooth transition from R410A. Installers, engineers, and end-users will learn more about R32 as an A2L refrigerant, its suitability for different projects, and its applicable regulations in the webinars. Six language options are available: German, Dutch, English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Refrigerant specifications On April 28th attention turns to understanding more about the specifics of the refrigerant changeover in HVAC applications. This webinar will set out how the F-Gas regulation is shaping the HVAC industry, and highlight the emergence of several lower-GWP refrigerants. Installers and engineers will hear about the impact of this trend and how to ensure a pain-free transition. The language options for this webinar are German, Dutch, English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Energy consumption These same language options apply to the next webinar, on May 4th, which will pinpoint the key facilitators that deliver optimized energy efficiency. Both end-users and maintenance professionals will benefit from registering for this presentation, the focus points of which include selecting the right IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) solution while managing energy consumption, upgrading fan technology, cloud-based monitoring, and EcoDesign 2021. Rooftop v/s chiller/AHU solution Rounding off Learning Month will be the webinar on May 11th: choosing between a rooftop or chiller/AHU solution. The differences between the two solutions, along with best-practice selection criteria, 1/2 will help installers, engineers, and end-users grasp the fundamentals required to reach the optimum decision. This webinar is available in German and Dutch. Ultimately, knowledge provides many opportunities, not least the chance to make astute selection decisions, optimize refrigeration and HVAC units for performance and efficiency, and become a source of advice and expertise. All those participating in any of the webinars at Learning Month will also get the opportunity to ask questions of the respective Lennox HVAC-R specialist.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) has evolved, the need has become obvious for stronger unity among brands and ecosystems to enable products within smart environments to work together more easily. Working to serve that need is the Zigbee Alliance, which seeks to promote collaboration in the Internet of Things by creating, evolving, and promoting universal open standards that enable all objects to connect and interact. Their effort took off when Amazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance announced an industry working group in December 2019 to take the “best of market” technologies from leading smart home standards, portfolios and ecosystems and to develop a “super spec” that will be open, inclusive and a significant industry shift in the smart home market. smart home automation system “Zigbee Alliance has been for a while now working on openness and interoperability, which has led us to the Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), which is looking to unify the environment, under one technology, one certification program and one logo,” says Chris LaPré, Zigbee Alliance’s IoT Solutions Architect. “It really does fuel IoT possibilities, whether in HVAC or any other sectors.” There is a stronger need for unity, which is why we are developing Project Connected Home over IP" Project CHIP is a royalty-free connectivity standard that unifies brands and ecosystems into a single smart home automation system that operates any other technology based on Internet Protocol (IP). The intent is to simplify product development for device manufacturers, broaden consumer choice, and to ensure easy discoverability, deployment and engagement to fuel connected living. unifies that environment “We have noticed that, as the IoT has evolved, there is a stronger need for unity, which is why we are developing Project Connected Home over IP,” says Jon Harros, Zigbee Alliance’s Director of Certification and Testing Programs. “It fits with the Zigbee Alliance’s goal to unify systems, and to focus on everyone using the same application at the top. It unifies that environment, whether you are integrating your system with Amazon Echo devices or connecting to Google Home.” Participating in development of Project CHIP are 125 companies of various types from around the world working together with more than 1,100 of their experts serving across sub-committees to formulate specifications and fine-tune the project. Although the technology is being developed for the home market, the specifications have been formulated with an eye toward expanding into the commercial market in the future. home system technologies Development of open, interoperable systems provides greater freedom for consumers to choose among the many technology choices on the market, without being tied to a single brand or ecosystem. Zigbee Alliance certifications and memberships span the globe, with roughly a third in Europe, a third in North America and a third in Asia. Involvement in Europe is slightly higher than the other regions. Alliance members represent manufacturing sites all over the world. Project CHIP is a newer initiative of the Zigbee Alliance, which previously developed Zigbee Pro to enable home system technologies to operate using IEEE 802.15.4 wireless signals on the 2.4GHz radio band over a self-healing true mesh network. The original Zigbee protocol is used for many applications around the world, including HVAC. smart temperature devices HVAC developers who have specific use cases should have a look at the work of the alliance Members of the Zigbee Alliance include HVAC companies such as Lennox, Stelpro and Belimo, among others. Carrier is a recent company that has joined the Zigbee Alliance. Smart thermostats, including the popular Ecobee, have used the Zigbee protocol. More than 100 different devices have been certified as thermostats or smart temperature devices. Harros urges other HVAC companies to become more involved with the Alliance. “We want them to come and have a look to see what we are doing and get involved,” he says. “This is where the work is being done as we unify the environment and bring together all the devices and ecosystems to work together.” HVAC developers who have specific use cases should have a look at the work of the alliance, he adds. certification transfer program Among the strengths of the Zigbee Alliance are years of experience certifying products, which includes testing them and confirming that they comply with the promoted specifications and functionality. The specifications are open standards that are developed in cooperation with all the companies that are Zigbee Alliance members. Another route is the certification transfer program, in which a company chooses a certified white-label product, becomes a member of the Alliance, and then rebrands the product while retaining the certification. “It helps them get products on the market quickly while they build their own knowledge base,” says Harros. "All our work is focused on standardizing the behavior and functionality of products and making sure everyone is following the same standard to get interoperability,” says Harros. “Members all contribute to the standards.”
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