Variable Refrigerant Flow Systems (VRF or VRV) - Expert Commentary

The Role Of ‘Smart’ HVAC In The Buildings Of The Future
The Role Of ‘Smart’ HVAC In The Buildings Of The Future

The last 18 months have seen an acceleration in digitalization across many aspects of work and home life. Home spaces have become workspaces, and commercial buildings have had to adapt to changed use and lower occupancy rates. Coupled with this, there is a growing need to dramatically reduce carbon emissions from buildings - according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the buildings and construction sectors combined are responsible for over 30 percent of global energy consumption, and nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions. Installing separate systems This means that demand for a smarter approach to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) management is crucial for building managers, who need to ensure that their properties can adapt to changed use, respond to the wellbeing of their occupants, and run efficiently to keep emissions as low as possible. Armed with this data, facility managers can take proactive steps to improve usage Of course, architects and developers have been installing separate systems to control HVAC for decades which have given building managers greater control and access to different areas of a site. However, with digitalization comes the addition of web-based platforms to allow these verticals to integrate seamlessly with each other, providing data on how efficiently and effectively a building operates through a single view application. Armed with this data, facility managers can take proactive steps to improve usage, which will see properties proactively react to the environmental and personal needs of their occupants. Centrally controlled lighting Many commercial buildings will already have a certain element of smart technology installed – from centrally controlled lighting and HVAC systems to remote management of security and energy management systems. However, it is often the case that these multiple applications are managed in silo. This means facilities managers don’t have a consolidated view of their data. In addition, not all managers will be using the data these devices produce to take steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their properties. Embracing smart technology – and a central control platform - gives building managers access to instant data on how their HVAC assets are performing in one place. This insight can be used to gain a thorough understanding of how the different systems in the building interact, and the external factors that may impact them. Effective building controls By using this data, operators can implement effective building controls to manage efficiencies By using this data, operators can implement effective building controls to manage efficiencies, identify maintenance issues, ensure the wellbeing of occupants, and inform future investment priorities. So, for example, if a building is now being used in a different way due to changed occupancy, the data will show the manager what needs to be done to ensure it is operating as efficiently as possible. We know that there will be increased demand for more flexible spaces as companies move towards remote or hybrid working models. It is likely that we will visit our offices less for day-to-day work and use them more as hubs to meet and collaborate. The ability to turn a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ building into an agile asset that can learn and adapt to its surroundings will become increasingly important. Smart HVAC management Smart offices will become independently intelligent, learning how occupants use the space and services, adjusting lighting, HVAC and other systems to maximize health and comfort. Smart HVAC management will create a trend for ‘healthier’ buildings that will have a positive impact in terms of improved quality of life and wellbeing of occupants, ultimately resulting in higher productivity levels. In short, there has never been a better time to adopt smart HVAC technologies. Intelligent buildings that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago are now a reality. As buildings become smarter, they can learn how occupants use the space and services and proactively adjust lighting, HVAC and other systems to improve use, cut emissions and reduce energy consumption.

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.

Latest Lennox news

Lennox Industries Unveils The Ultimate Comfort System™, Focused On Indoor Air Quality
Lennox Industries Unveils The Ultimate Comfort System™, Focused On Indoor Air Quality

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 Organizes Learning Month For HVAC-R Sector
Lennox EMEA Organizes Learning Month For HVAC-R Sector

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.

Zigbee Alliance Developing Specification Standard For Connected Home Over IP
Zigbee Alliance Developing Specification Standard For Connected Home Over IP

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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