; Tasnia Tajin, Author at A-TECH Engineering Ltd - Building Automation with BACnet to IOT

Why Should You Install VFD?

Managing a building or facility in today’s highly competitive market requires you to fulfill multiple goals simultaneously such as ensuring everything operates smoothly, enhancing occupants’ comfort level, being environmentally responsible as well as reducing operational costs. Since the HVAC system is an important component of a building system as well as a major energy consumer, certain additions or modifications can make it more efficient and also bring down energy costs. Once such addition is installing VFD or variable frequency drive on your HVAC unit. In this article we take a look at what exactly are VFDs and how they work better together with your commercial HVAC system.

What is VFD or Variable Frequency Drive?

Usually, HVAC systems are set up to function at a constant speed irrespective of the demands. However, in practice, the actual building load demand on HVAC systems constantly fluctuates. A VFD also known as AFD – adjustable frequency drive – allows such systems to adjust the speed at which the motor runs and is dependent on how much power the mechanical systems require to fulfill the demand of the building which is also referred to as the “load” of the system.  By changing the speed, the motor can meet the building load demand without spending extra energy and reducing energy costs.

Most of the time, HVAC systems only need to work at peak load 1 to 10 percent of the operational time- which means a VFD is able to reduce the amount of energy wasted during more than 90 percent of the operational time. With the installation of VFD on the HVAC system, you can see energy savings by more than 50%. With that being said, here are some of the top reasons why you should install VFD on HVAC system:

Energy savings – VFDs produce significant energy savings. This is because motor energy consumption is a function of speed and the most common motor in HVAC systems is the induction motor. For induction motors, the power used by the motor differs with the cube of the motor’s speed. This means that if the motor can be reduced by 25 percent of its regular operating speed, its energy use can be lowered by almost 60 percent and with a 50 percent decrease in speed, energy use can be reduced by almost 90 percent which translates into significant energy savings and reduced energy bills.

Lower demand charges- Another benefit of installing VFD on HVAC is that since it reduces energy use of the building system during its peak demand period, it will also mean reduced demand charges. This will also reflect on reduced electricity bills.

Increased lifespan of the system – A VFD allows the motor to start softly rather than all at once unlike regular motors which means less energy is spent to start the motor. This ultimately reduces wear and tear on the motor, thereby increasing the lifespan of the system.

Less repair costs- Again, due to the soft start and reduced wear and tear on the motor, less frequent repairs are needed, reducing repair costs. In addition, it also lowers chances of motor failures. 

More precise control over flow rates – Another advantage of using VFD is that it gives exact control over a range of flow rates. For example, the flow rate generated by pumps in building HVAC systems can be adjusted to the building load through the use of a VFD. This reduces load on motor, wear and tear on pump, as well as energy use. 

In addition, VFDs can also be used in other applications such as hot and cold water systems to maintain a constant pressure irrespective of demand levels. This also helps in preventing water leaks or pipes bursting due to high pressure.

Maximize efficiency – Most HVAC systems are designed to handle extra loads such as new parts or a greater number of people. With VFD, you can get a more exact assessment of motor load and speed which ensures optimum efficiency of the system.

Deliver diagnostic data– With VFD, you can get constant updates on how the HVAC system is functioning. As a result, you can track and monitor any defect early on before it becomes a major problem and prevent costly repairs. 


A VFD is a diverse and hugely beneficial energy management tool that has a wide range of applications. Today’s VFD can be installed on any commercial or institutional HVAC system and can offer significant energy savings of from 35% to 50% and result in a return on investment of six months to two years. A-TECH Engineering Ltd. – a leading HVAC controls contractor in Toronto can help you with setting up VFDs, upgrading HVAC controls, efficient coil cleaning and more for improved efficiency and maximum energy savings. Connect with us today!


Energy Saving Tips for Commercial Buildings

Energy saving is a goal many progressive business owners including building owners, facility managers incorporate for various reasons such as minimizing cost, improving efficiency, reducing carbon footprint and so on. One of the key aspects of energy saving is to invest in an energy monitoring system. With this building owners or facility managers can easily track and monitor energy usage. Once you are aware of energy usage data of your building systems, you can identify the scope and devise an energy saving strategy. In this article, we take a look at some of the energy saving tips your commercial building or facility can benefit from and minimize the energy costs.

Ensure proper functioning of equipment

Periodically monitor that all equipment and controls are functioning properly. Make sure your energy management system is set up correctly to ensure smooth operation as well as control settings are adjusted. Improper settings can not only slow down operation but also result in high energy costs since it is largely the equipment and machine that consume maximum energy in a facility.

Be aware of peak hour energy costs

If you are a resident of Ontario, then make sure you familiarize yourself with off peak hours and peak hours during which energy costs vary. If possible, schedule high energy consuming operations during off peak hours to minimize energy costs. The time can vary depending on the season, specifically in summer and winter. In addition, weekends and holidays in Ontario always offer off peak hours.

Switch to renewable energy sources

Renewable energy sources can be a great way to minimize energy costs as well as reduce carbon footprint as they use natural resources that are environmentally friendly. If your facility or business relies on power generation you can look for other power generation ways such as cogeneration which minimizes energy loss, increases efficiency by up to 90% or more and reduces energy costs.

Automate building systems

In today’s technologically advanced era, investing in building automation system is not a choice but a necessity. It will not only reduce your energy costs and improve efficiency but also add to user comfort, not to mention make managing your multiple buildings a hassle-free process. With efficient building automation and controls, you can monitor energy usage, adjust settings, receive alerts, predict problems, and reduce major repairs and much more. From carrying out simple tasks like scheduling lighting system to detecting occupants using occupancy sensors to gaining valuable insights for better decision making, it is essential to have your building equipped with BAS. Today’s BACnet to IoT app also makes it easy to control multiple buildings anytime from anywhere.

Encourage occupants to turn off power and equipment

When you want to create an energy saving environment, apart from using an energy management system, you also need to build awareness within the building community so that occupants are motivated to participate in the program. You can install signages, posters, hold workshops that encourage employees, staff, or other building users to make sure all the electronics such as task lights, kitchen appliances, computers are turned off. Since humans are creatures who tend to forget, again another option is to go with a building automation system which will take care of turning off any powered system in absence of occupants or based on scheduled tasks.

Install submetering or energy meter

If you own or manage multiple units such as condo projects, install energy meter or submetering for individual units. This helps in identifying actual energy usage in each unit as well as encourages residents to be more conscious of energy using habits as they are responsible for utility bills of their own portion. 

Change old lighting

Replace old incandescent lighting with more energy efficient and modern lighting such as LED. Although initially they may cost you, over the long run, these are more long lasting and energy saving compared to traditional bulbs, thereby helping you reduce electricity bills. Also pay attention to lighting in areas that do not require too much light such as parking lot, areas that receive ample daylight. Invest in motion sensor, smart lighting, or dimmers to effectively control lighting and reduce utility bills.

Install HVAC monitoring system

Since HVAC system is an important component of building as well as a major energy consumer, invest in an efficient HVAC monitoring system or HVAC monitoring app that can give you real-time update and control of the HVAC system. This will not only reduce energy costs but also enhance occupants’ comfort.

In addition, make sure your HVAC controls are properly set and components are serviced and maintained to ensure efficiency and reduced costs. 

Upgrade building controls

Since building systems become obsolete with time, you need to upgrade building controls like boiler controls, chiller and so on so that they are upgraded to the latest system, compatible with new software and optimized for performance.

Invest in energy-rated equipment

Whether buying new equipment for your facility or getting new appliances, it is recommended that you check the energy rating of the equipment. Energy rating refers to how efficient a machine runs depending on the energy it consumes, which can be water, electricity, and how well it functions. Usually, latest models and appliances will have better energy ratings than their older counterparts. These are energy rated for their efficiency and help in conserving energy as well as reducing energy costs.

Energy savings is without a doubt a huge concern for any commercial building owner, operator, or facility manager. While there are many energy solutions available, it depends on many factors such as your industry, business goal, building size and so on. Connect with A-TECH Engineering Ltd. – a leading energy company based in Toronto to discuss the energy saving potential of your building today.

What is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy refers to energy that is obtained from natural resources that are replenishable    – something that will not run out such as the sun, water and so on. It is also known as “alternative energy” which refers to using energy from sources other than the widely used non-sustainable sources such as fossil fuel or coal.  Over the years renewable or alternative energy has gained a lot of popularity due to being cleaner, healthier, and diverse applications. In this article, we delve into everything you need to know about renewable energy sources and how your contribution can help create a cleaner future.

Types of renewable energy

The most widely used renewable energy sources include:

Sun – solar energy

Water – hydroelectric power

Wind – wind power

Hot springs -geothermal energy

Tides – tidal power and

 Biomass -biofuels

Evolution of renewable energy

In the early years of the 21st century, about 80% of the world’s energy source was from fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas.  These fossil fuels  are finite resources – that is at some point, they will run out. 

In addition, the combustion of fossil fuel has a number of harmful environmental and health impacts as well. For instance, most fossil-fuel driven plants discharge  air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and poisonous chemicals like heavy metals including mercury, lead and arsenic, while vehicles powered by fossil fuels release nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. Exposure to these pollutants can cause several short term and long term health problems including allergies, headache, heart diseases, asthma, and skin cancer, besides others. Moreover, the combustion of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide (CO2), which is one of the main greenhouse gases that is responsible for global warming and climate change.

However, before the development of one of the most widely used fossil fuels – which is coal in the mid-19th century, almost all energy used was from renewable sources including using traditional biomass to ignite fires or using wind power for sailing ships across water. Although after the discovery of fossil fuels, use of renewable energy slowed down by the 21st century, it still accounted for nearly 20 percent of worldwide energy usage. In fact by the first quarter of 2020, nearly 28% percent of the world’s electricity was generated from renewable sources.

The challenges of renewable energy

Despite the wide range of applications of renewable energy, until recently the main obstacle for the growth of this sector has been its costly price tag. Although their maintenance costs are minimal, it is the installation cost that acts as the major barrier.

Another challenge  is the infrastructure and power transmission as most infrastructures were built with large fossil fuel plants in mind. In addition, existing local power distributors also act as barriers to entry since they are well established as well as have enormous market power. 

However, thanks to advancements in technology, the costs of renewable energy sources have reduced significantly. For instance, solar panel technology price reduced 82% by 2019 and the upfront costs are only projected to go down with further progression. In addition, with the whole world geared towards achieving net zero emission and minimizing carbon footprint, governments all over the world, including the government of Canada offers grants and incentives to corporations and businesses for investing in clean energy while energy companies like A-TECH Engineering Ltd. provides investment opportunity in energy solutions with zero upfront cost.

Is renewable energy the way to go?

Renewable energy has never been a more important or widely discussed topic than it is nowadays. From powerful governments to big corporations to progressive business owners, everyone is waking up to the need for a greener world with clean energy which points solely to the renewable energy source. 
Two of the most recent popular renewable energy sources happen to be the solar and wind energy source and they are increasingly being used for producing energy for both local areas as well as national power generation. 

These alternative energy sources have a lot more to offer than just producing clean or net zero emissions such as helping in boosting local economies. For example, use of solar power offers lots of benefits with easy installation, low maintenance cost, lower electricity bills, and so on while projects driven by wind energy provide potentials in the form of increased employment opportunities and local funding. Renewable energy is projected to account for about 30 percent of the world’s energy by 2024, forecasted by the International Energy Agency, and most of this will be driven by solar, hydroelectric, and wind projects.

Although there is a long way to go before mankind has completely stopped relying on fossil fuels for energy usage, the increased popularity and versatile applications of renewable energy sources make them worth considering if your organization has clean energy and sustainable goals. A-TECH Engineering Ltd. is a leading energy company based in Toronto which offers advanced energy solutions including solar power, cogeneration besides others. Connect with us and find out how we can help your business become more environment-friendly and energy saving. 

Building Automation System and What It Can Do For You

Building Automation Systems are widely used in commercial and industrial buildings as they provide better control and management of building systems mainly the HVAC system, as well as optimize energy use with the goal of reducing energy costs. Over the years, the BAS industry has advanced rapidly with the development of protocols like BACnet. Today’s BAS are engineered for their ease of use and more power to control multiple building systems from a unified platform. In this article we take a look at what a building automation system can do for you and its various benefits.


Building Automation System

Building automation system is the unified platform for the automated controls of a building’s HVAC system, lighting, security and other systems throughout a building or multiple buildings. A BAS works with the goal of increasing building energy efficiency and lowering maintenance costs of a building. Additionally, building automation system is an energy management system that helps property managers and building owners bring down energy costs by efficiently controlling heating, ventilation and air conditioning of a building while ensuring occupants’ comfort.

How does building automation system work?

BAS is basically integration of mechanical, electrical systems and equipment with microprocessors that communicate with each other and are sometimes connected to a computer. Moreover, the controllers and computers in the building automation system can either be connected to the internet or remain as a separate system for local peer- to-peer controller networks. Additionally, the BAS controllers themselves do not require a computer to implement the control tasks as the controllers come with their own inbuilt processors.

Every building automation system is composed of a set of common components including:

Sensors —  These are devices which measure various aspects of a building such as CO2 output, temperature, humidity, or even the number of occupants in a room through occupancy sensors. The sensors transmit the data to a central controller.

Controllers — These components are basically the brains of the BAS as they process the data received from sensors and send commands on how the system will respond. 

Output devices — These carry out the commands from the controller and include relays and actuators. For example, these can  increase or decrease temperature in a particular part of the building, turn off lights in unused spaces, or turn on the air conditioning at a scheduled time.

Communications protocols — The BAS uses a specific language that can be interpreted by the system’s individual components. Two of the most widely used communication protocols in BAS are BACnet and Modbus.

Dashboard or user interface — This is basically the platform or interface users utilize to interact with the BAS. It displays information so that building managers and owners can monitor the condition of the building, alter control settings and so on.

In a conventional automated building there can be several building automation systems controllers for different types of air conditioning and heating equipment. However, BAS is not just limited to HVAC system and can include lighting, security, fire alarms and so on. Depending on the industry, equipment, building size and various other factors, the BAS engineer needs to choose the appropriate BAS system.

Here is a list of functions an efficient Building Automation System can perform:

Scheduling various building systems

Building automation system allows building managers to create routine schedules for enhanced comfort of occupants and maximize energy savings. For example, start heating on before occupants arrive, turning off lighting systems in offices after office hours and so on.

Energy monitoring system

An efficient BAS will have the ability to monitor energy usage in a building, including serve as an energy meter for various utilities such as electricity, gas, water, hot water and so on.

Triggering and sending alerts

BAS can enable setting up trigger points that allow alerts to be directly sent to building personnel via text or email for necessary action to be taken. For example, triggers can be set up for humidity levels, CO2 output, number of occupants and so on. When the operator receives the alert, actions can be implemented for corrective measures that would restore system efficiency and increase occupants comfort. This can also be used for fault detection and prevent costly repairs. 

Optimize building systems

BAS works to regulate and optimize various building systems including the HVAC system.  For example, it can optimize airflow from external sources which in turn regulates indoor air quality, provides optimal temperature and enhances user comfort. 

Integrate adaptive learning

Today’s advanced building automation systems can be integrated with IoT and AI which allows adaptive learning. This provides enhanced performance of building systems and reduces utility bills. For instance, adaptive learning enables the system to compare indoor temperature to outside environment conditions and turn off or on the HVAC system or set proper temperature as required without any human intervention.

HVAC Monitoring

Since HVAC systems are major energy consuming building components, an efficient building automation and controls system provides full HVAC monitoring, even remotely through HVAC monitoring apps. It can let you know when an HVAC unit is running in both heating and cooling and help you cut down utility costs.

Provide historic data

Modern BAS offers a repository of useful building analytics data that facility managers or building managers can use to optimize efficiency, identify energy saving scope and cut down costs.

Although the main goal of BAS is to improve system efficiency, reduce costs and increase occupants comfort, over the years it has become an essential component in running and maintaining building systems efficiently and smoothly. As old technology becomes obsolete, it is important to upgrade the building automation and controls to ensure it is up to date with newer software.  Connect with A-TECH Engineering Ltd– a leading building automation system and controls provider in Toronto and find out how we can transform your building into a smart and energy saving building for tomorrow.

Spring Cleaning for Commercial HVAC System

The HVAC system is a major energy consumer especially for commercial buildings and over time it loses efficiency without proper care and maintenance. With the arrival of spring season, it is the perfect opportunity to pay attention to your commercial HVAC system and carry out some spring cleaning to get rid of accumulated dirt, dust, and germs in your HVAC system and upgrade your HVAC controls to improve efficiency and reduce utility bills.

There are several advantages for carrying out spring cleaning for your commercial HVAC system including improved ventilation, enhanced comfort, increased efficiency and reduced utility bills. In addition, it will also increase the lifespan of your HVAC system.
In this article, we take a look at some of the spring maintenance tips for your commercial HVAC system.

Replace the Air Filter

Over time, the air filter in your commercial HVAC system accumulates dust and dirt which not only contribute to indoor air pollution but also put extra load on the HVAC system.  Cleaning air filter will improve indoor air quality in your space as well reduce energy costs of your building. Operating your commercial HVAC systems with clean air filters can reduce energy usage by up to 15%.

Clean HVAC system components

HVAC system indoor components including evaporating coils, blower fans accumulate layers of dust, dirt, germs, scaling and so on which greatly reduce system efficiency and lower indoor air quality. Make sure during spring cleaning, these parts are properly cleaned for the upcoming season. Also do not forget to clean and lubricate fan blades for smooth function.

With the prevalent of covid-19, it is possible that the virus can circulate in the air through the system and increase risk of transmission within a building due to poor ventilation. This is why it is now imperative more than ever that before reopening you carry out a deep cleaning of your commercial HVAC system. You should ensure you get the services of professionals who follow covid-19 disinfection protocol.

Ensure proper refrigerant level

Cooling systems need to have the right amount of refrigerant to capture and release heat properly. The refrigerant in cooling system is found in evaporating coils- these evaporate the refrigerant to absorb heat from the surrounding area and is transferred to condenser coil where it reverts back to liquid form and heat is released either into or outside the building, ensuring the heat pump or cooling system is functioning properly.  It is imperative that the proper refrigerant level is maintained. Without it, commercial HVAC system will have lower efficiency and eventually lead to system breakdown, requiring major repairs.

Upgrade HVAC Controls

With commercial HVAC systems accounting for more than 50% to 60% of the total energy consumption, upgrading your HVAC controls can be the best investment for your HVAC system this season. Smart commercial HVAC controls such as DDC systems can increase your system efficiency up to 40%. Today’s smart commercial HVAC control also allows you to monitor and control multiple building systems in a unified platform and also provide a hassle-free energy management system, improving efficiency and reducing utility bills.

Inspect and clean drain lines

The cooling drain line can become clogged leading to the unit shutting down or worse, leaking and triggering serious water damage to the building. Inspect your drain lines and condensate pans and make sure that they are not clogged with debris, mold or mineral deposits and clean them properly. If you have a HVAC monitoring app or a newer HVAC system, it can notify you when the drain pan is filled with water so you know that the line is clogged and fix the problem before it causes any major damage.

Clean outdoor units

In addition to cleaning HVAC inner components, you should also ensure that the outdoor cabinet that holds the condenser unit and other components are clean. During winter season, there can be build-up of debris including leaves, branches or other materials that can obstruct the vents and reduce airflow, thereby reducing efficiency. Make sure these are removed and cleaned properly.

Inspect and repair electrical wiring

Another important thing to note during spring cleaning of your commercial HVAC system is to properly check and test control box, wiring and connections so that they are secure and without any damage. Examine all wiring for any signs of damage, including rodent nests, burnt wires, and loose connections and fix the issue before it leads to major problems.

HVAC system is an important building system component for any commercial building and with the arrival of spring season, it is important that you have it ready to prevent downtime and save on energy costs. With these tips, you can ensure your commercial HVAC system will be running smoothly and efficiently and you can enjoy both peace of mind as well as lower energy costs this spring. A-TECH Engineering  Ltd.- a leading HVAC controls contractor based in Toronto provides efficient HVAC system cleaning and maintenance services as well as smart building automation system that not only increase efficiency and reduce energy bills but also improve indoor air quality and occupants’ comfort. Connect with us to get a FREE assessment of your commercial HVAC system today.