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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.
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.
Automated After Hours HVAC Software And How You Can Quantify Its ValueDownload