How Smart Buildings Help Your HVAC System Use Less EnergyJason Siddall
The more comfortable we are at work, the better our productivity. If we’re too cold or too hot, if our lighting is too bright or too dim, or if the air quality isn’t optimal, our work suffers as we suffer. This is why having an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system is so important. Of course, it needs to work properly in order to create the ideal internal environment for maximum comfort and productivity, but it also needs to be efficient so as to optimise its energy consumption. As important as your HVAC is, it’s likely to be your building’s largest consumer of energy. Thankfully, smart building innovations and new technologies are more focused than ever before on improving the efficiency of HVAC systems and reducing their energy consumption.
New HVAC systems have better algorithms and deliver more detailed data. They have more precise sensors and offer more options for automatically controlled systems that respond to factors such as building occupancy and usage. Systems are getting better and better at first identifying the amount of activity taking place inside a building at any given time, then adjusting the performance of the HVAC equipment accordingly. CO2 sensors, for example, calculate the number of people in a certain space based on emissions and trigger only the amount of ventilation needed for that number. This alone is a huge energy saver.
Another area where considerable savings can be realised is in improvement in variable load technology. Many heating and cooling systems are oversized for general requirements, as they are installed to cope with the maximum, or peak, load. Most of the time, however, those peak loads only happen during a very small part of the year – either in the height of summer or middle of winter. For the rest of the time, the system operates at part load. More efficient HVAC systems respond to variable load conditions, meaning far better energy use, higher efficiency and less waste.
Smart Building, Smart HVAC
The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the way we live and work. The HVAC systems in our office buildings are no exception. Smart buildings use multiple technologies, decision-supporting software and automated controls to provide a comfortable environment that is rapidly responsive to changes within that environment. By improving the efficiency and operational efficacy of HVAC and other building systems, they can help to significantly reduce energy consumption without compromising on quality.
The key to achieving this is through the use of sensors. When these sensors communicate with robust cloud software platforms, they relay information about a host of environmental conditions, such as humidity, light, temperature and movement. This provides valuable, real-time information on how the various areas in the building are used, which helps building managers optimise energy efficiency.
With HVAC systems responsible for up to 40% of a building’s energy consumption, finding ways to reduce this without also reducing performance is becoming more and more important.
How It Works
The amount of energy efficiency obtained depends on the type of HVAC infrastructure installed in the building. It’s impossible to get detailed data and insight on the way individual HVAC components function if they operate independently of each other. Inexpensive, wireless IoT sensors can capture granular data – such as fan speeds, flow rates, compressor run times, vibration and total asset energy consumption – from important HVAC assets in a building. This gives invaluable insights into their true operational efficiency, helping to highlight where savings need to be made.
Smart building technology also helps with early fault detection and diagnostics of HVAC components. This is known as predictive maintenance, and it stops minor issues – that crop up between regular maintenance schedules – from becoming major issues. Real-time data gathered from critical HVAC assets, together with Artificial Intelligence (AI), can be used for advanced analytics that identifies potential problems early so they can be attended to before catastrophe strikes.
Integrating all your HVAC equipment into one centrally controlled network means everything is controlled through one central hub. This not only saves time and money but also makes it far easier to keep on top of the energy usage of all the systems in your building. In addition, once you’ve got everything adjusted to your optimal personal settings, your power control is easier to manage, and no resources are wasted on inefficient system settings.
Even if you have several different systems in operation – they can all be efficiently integrated into one control system that you can operate through the internet, or even from your smartphone! Energy savings at your fingertips!
AHI-Carrier is the most trusted name in South Africa for air conditioning and heating products. We supply a variety of air conditioning and heating solutions for the mining, commercial and industrial sectors. For more information on how you can reduce your HVAC energy reliance, contact us now on (011) 878 6320.