Before, people used to think that building automation systems are only for large commercial and industrial projects and not necessary for residential buildings. Even though smart home technology has been prevalent for many years owing to their convenience and comfort, it has been only recently that facility managers and multi-residential property managers are realizing the potential and benefits of building automation system for condo buildings. Condominiums range in size from mid to large but usually comprise a large number of units with varying number of occupants and energy needs so it makes sense that integrating building automation systems in condominiums will provide added benefits to both occupants and managers for better utilization of space, energy management, enhanced comfort and so on. In this article we take a look at how condo boards, condo managers and occupants can all benefit from having an efficient building automation system.
Building Automation System
Building automation system in condominiums refers to automatic and centralized control of the condo’s systems, including HVAC, lighting, security and so on. Usually building automation systems (or BAS) are driven by sensors, controls and a network infrastructure installed in the building and managed from a unified interface. Although previously building automation systems used to be expensive, the advancement of technology, Artificial Intelligence and IoT have made building automation systems highly affordable even for small building sizes. With easy upgradation, even older buildings that use BACnet protocol can be integrated with updated and newer software that are user-friendly and requires the least human intervention, thereby reducing the hassle of frequent technical support or maintenance issues. Some of the major benefits of having building automation system in condominiums are:
Reducing Utility Bills
Utilities usually account for 30-40% of a condominium’s operating costs covering lighting, heating, ventilation, and air cooling. Moreover, obsolete HVAC equipment that are rarely maintained in condominiums are highly inefficient and waste a ton of energy, thereby increasing utility bills redundantly. Furthermore, when you rely on human intervention, energy bills also increase in condo projects due to misuse of electricity, water and so on.
Having building automation system helps to identify wastage areas, minimize the need of human intervention in maintaining the building systems and reduces energy costs by 5%-30% in the long run. In addition, there are building automation systems that integrate submetering, which is extremely useful for condominiums. Submetering gives you a clear picture of how much energy each unit consumes, detects areas of cost improvement as well as offers occupants a fair-pay system for utilities.
Better Energy Management
As automated building systems reduce electricity bills, they also provide an improved energy management system for condominiums. With automated building system controls, as a condominium manager, you can utilize smart sensors that can trigger automated actions that optimize energy usage while ensuring occupants’ comfort. For example, when the gym experiences high traffic on a particularly hot and humid day, automation can activate the air conditioner and when the gym is unoccupied, it can turn off the lights and AC to prevent energy wastage. In this way building automation system is also able to provide better space utilization in condominiums which otherwise would eat up a lot of resources to look after the condo amenities and facilities.
Condominiums are storehouses for a large amount of data most of which are either not collected or utilized properly. With building automation system in condominiums, condo managers can access this data anytime, anywhere and make much better informed decisions such as managing building resources in an energy efficient way, taking preventive measures for maintenance issues and so on. For example, say there is a water leakage in one of the condo units. Realistically, it might not get inspected by anyone until some serious damage occurs. Having building automation system with water sensors, condo managers can easily note the spike in water usage and be able to take care of the issue before any real damage occurs.
With the vast pool of data, building managers can also know traffic or number of occupants in various areas during different times. This information will help to schedule any maintenance work easily without interfering with occupants timing, thus elevating their condo living experience.
Today’s IoT enabled building automation systems can be monitored and accessed from anywhere and anytime, giving you full control over your building systems. Moreover, with AI integration, the process works on its own with minimal human intervention so you have the peace of mind that if something goes wrong, it will be taken care of without any added stress.
Most traditional condos used to rely on concierge service for security. This involved a lot of hassles including having to recruit the right people, managing them, and also paying them. However, with building automation system in condominiums, security and access controls are much more efficient, intuitive, and able to send alerts instantly to any security anomaly. Smart security systems have evolved greatly from traditional and simple CCTV to IoT empowered digital access controls that use sensors, biometrics, camera and data analytics for ensuring effective and hassle-free security of the condominium. In addition, condo managers no longer need to install and maintain complex IT infrastructure as most of these systems are cloud-based.
Condo boards can significantly reduce energy consumption by embracing automated building systems which not only provide financial benefits through energy savings but also add to occupants’ comfort. In addition, instead of wasting resources for monitoring multiple building operations and units, building automation system provides an easy and better way to evaluate the energy profile of the building and helps you make better energy management decisions. A-TECH Engineering Ltd. – a Toronto based energy management company – provides innovative IoT enabled building automation system that gives you guaranteed energy savings, increased efficiency, and enhanced occupant comfort. Connect with us to reduce your condo management hassle and provide a better condo living experience with smart and efficient buildings.
With traditional energy sources becoming increasingly costlier, the scope of alternative energy is rapidly becoming the object of attention for several progressive business owners looking for sustainable, cleaner, and reliable energy solutions. Using renewable energy not only provides businesses and organizations with monetary benefits but also provides long lasting positive impact on the environment. In this article we take a look at what renewable energy entails and how businesses can leverage it.
WHAT IS RENEWABLE ENERGY?
Renewable energy refers to energy that is harvested from natural resources, which are inexhaustible in nature and can be easily replenished. This comprises carbon neutral sources like solar, wind, water, tides, geothermal heat as well as photovoltaic and biomass resources.
On the other hand, non-renewable energy resources which include fossil fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas, and others are consumed at a much faster rate than they are replenished. Because of the finite nature of non-renewable resources, renewable or alternative energy has been gaining a lot of momentum in many industries in order to fill in the energy gap created as these non-renewable resources get exhausted.
Renewable energy is used to provide energy in four important areas including electricity generation, air and water heating or cooling, off-grid energy generation and transportation. It offers comparatively safer, cleaner, cheaper, and efficient energy than non-renewable energy as well as plays a critical role in replenishing non-renewable energy sources as well as mitigates the risks of climate change resulting from use of fossil fuels.
With the demand for efficient and reliable energy as well reduced environmental impact, alternative or renewable energy promises to be part of any sustainable energy management system for a business.
Here are some of the ways your business can leverage renewable energy.
- Environmental benefits: Renewable energy provides a clean source of energy compared to conventional energy generation sources. For example, a recent study revealed 29 percent of global warming emissions in the US results from the electricity sector from burning fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas. However, most renewable energy sources generate little to no global warming emissions at all. In addition, by reducing carbon footprint, it also helps to improve overall air quality and public health. Due to air pollution and poor air quality, people all over the world suffer from serious health issues including respiratory diseases, neurological disorder, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, premature death, and a host of other health risks.
- Reliable energy: Most of the time non-renewable energy generated has to be distributed from source to usage area. During this process, a majority of the energy is wasted and there are also power disturbances. On the other hand, renewable energy is produced locally. As a result, it saves energy, prevents wastage, and mitigates the risk of power outage or fluctuation problems, thus benefiting your business.
- Cost-effective – Many traditional business owners tend to think renewable energy is costly and not at all financially feasible for their business model. However, in reality this form of energy is economically viable as it provides a safety net against increasing cost of electricity which is a major overhead cost for many businesses. For example, a study reveals that commercial property owners can reduce their electricity bill by 75 percent by simply installing solar panels.
- Get incentivized – Many governments all over the world including Canada, in order to mitigate climate change, have introduced several energy programs that provide significant incentives, tax rebates and grants for participating in clean energy programs and helping the world to be a safer and cleaner place. Your organization can benefit financially from this too. For Canadian organizations, you can find more resources here.
- Goodwill and brand recognition – Not only organizations and people working in the environment sector, but common people as well are becoming aware of the effects of climate change and the need to participate in cleaner, environment-friendly energy generation and consumption. As a business that employs sustainable business practices including using alternative energy sources, you can benefit from the goodwill of mass people and reinforcement of a positive brand image, which will reflect in increased sales and ROI.
- Employee loyalty– Studies have also shown that 64 percent people will not take up a job in a company that does not participate in corporate social responsibilities. As a result, by investing in alternative energy solutions, you will also be able to recruit and retain a team of talented employees that are loyal to your organization.
- Employment opportunities – The renewable energy sector is labor intensive and by investing in it, your organization will be creating more job opportunities in the market and contributing to overall socio-economic development.
Investing in renewable energy solutions can help your businesses beyond just significantly reducing energy bills and improving efficiency. Conventional energy solutions are increasingly becoming more costlier and disruptive day by day and the trend is likely to continue. Switching to alternative energy solutions will not only help your business alone but also have a positive impact for the future generation. A-TECH Engineering – a leading energy company based in Toronto provides innovative energy solutions including CHP, solar energy and more to help your business become sustainable while saving energy and reducing carbon footprint. Connect with us to learn more today.
Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the years and has surely revolutionized many industries. The building system is also not so far behind that is set to see an all-new transformation. Whether it is residential or commercial or facility, modern buildings have undergone massive transformation in more than just appearance. They are no longer simply boxes with roofs and walls. Today’s buildings are intuitive, reactive, and preemptive in nature not only to external stimuli but also to internal stimuli, thanks to building innovation technologies. According to a study, smart building technology had been expected to reach 36 billion USD by 2020. In this article, we take a look at what AI or Artificial Intelligence is and how it is reshaping building automation and HVAC systems and creating smarter buildings for tomorrow.
AI and smart buildings
“Intelligence is not skill itself, it’s not what you can do, it’s how well and how efficiently you can learn new things.”- Francois Chollet, AI researcher at Google.
AI or Artificial Intelligence refers to creating intelligent machines, computers or programs that are capable of self-learning, adapting, and improvising in a new environment while applying that knowledge for various tasks and functions in an unfamiliar scenario without human intervention.
AI and buildings are a match made in heaven that has enabled streamlining, optimizing, and revolutionizing the functionality of buildings, thus resulting in smarter buildings for the future.
Before, we already had a prevalence of technologies that added to building functionality and provided better experience to occupants such as CCTV system, fire alarms, smoke detectors and so on. However, today, the building technology industry has grown exponentially and includes a plethora of systems and sensors such as temperature, humidity, co2 monitoring and so on. These are able to store a wide range of data, perform a myriad of tasks that not only add to the occupant experience and comfort but also benefit various stakeholders such as facility managers, property managers. These results in ensuring that the buildings are running efficiently without any hiccup and provides maximum energy savings.
With the triple power of AI, IoT and building systems, the future buildings are set to be smarter and a lot more intelligent than ever.
AI in Building Automation
With the aid of incredibly advanced IoT solutions, massive volumes of insightful data are continuously collected from every system of a building. This data gathered provides a great resource and has the potential to help facility managers or building owners with meaningful, actionable insights in making better informed decisions to improve efficiency, reduce carbon emission, improve occupant comfort as well maximize energy savings by 25-35%. As such, AI plays a significant role in transforming the raw data into actionable insights without any human intervention at all. Without this powerful AI technology, the data gathered is rendered meaningless or at least will require a host of other resources, making the entire process costly and cumbersome.
However, with AI, building managers can make sure operational efficiency is much higher, utilize resources reliably, and improve the overall comfort level of occupants.
AI in HVAC system
The HVAC system is without any doubt an important component of any building system and also known to be one of the major energy consumers, sometimes accounting for about more than 50% of the building’s energy use. As a result, it makes sense to integrate AI into HVAC systems making them more efficient, intuitive as well as environment friendly. Although AI technology has been largely employed in smart buildings as well as other industries, its involvement in the HVAC system has been fairly less. In addition, HVAC system use depends largely on external environment factors like temperature, weather and season. However, it is generally built for a stable or static environment which not only disrupts the performance of HVAC systems but also overtime reduces their efficiency and increases energy bills despite having regular service and maintenance.
Now with the addition of AI in HVAC system, such as Brainbox AI, makes the HVAC system from reactive to preemptive in nature, relying on a combination of deep learning, cloud-based computing, and a process that enable a continuously self-operating system without any human involvement and provides maximum system efficiency as well as significant energy savings. With the power of AI, facility managers, property owners can also leverage data from various point sources and utilize those data to make better informed decisions seamlessly.
The world is changing exponentially nowadays with the advancement of technology and modern facilities and building managers are increasingly becoming aware of not only providing exceptional value to occupant experience but also using resources in a smart and reliable way, and this is only possible with the integration of AI and IoT into building automation and control systems.
A-TECH Engineering Ltd.- a leading building automation and HVAC controls provider based in Toronto – offers IoT-enabled building automation as well Brainbox AI reselling services to ensure not only optimum efficiency but also a seamless and hassle-free user experience that requires the least human intervention. Connect with an A-TECH team member today and find out how we can take your building automation to the next level of efficiency, energy savings and occupant comfort.
HVAC system is a major component of your commercial space as they provide a number of benefits in regular operation of the building or facility, hence it is imperative that you have your HVAC system periodically maintained and serviced to avoid system failure and unnecessary repair costs. However, just regular maintenance and servicing is not enough in today’s fast paced era where even a short downtime can cost you thousands of dollars. Having an efficient HVAC monitoring system for your commercial space can help you constantly track the performance and energy use of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units in your building, send direct alerts and notifications in case of any discrepancy and prevent major repairs and downtime. In this article, we take a look at what entails a HVAC monitoring system and how it can be beneficial for your facility or building.
Why Is it important?
HVAC system is no doubt an integral part of a facility or building as it is necessary not only for ensuring comfort of building occupants but also for maintaining optimum condition for equipment and/or manufacturing.
In addition, HVAC system also helps to regulate dust, microbes in the air, and thus during this pandemic, it is important more than ever to ensure that your HVAC system is working properly to minimize the risk of spread and transmission of COVID-19. This is where the HVAC monitoring system steps in as it provides constant and accurate data of your HVAC system performance and efficiency. Without HVAC analytics, problems with equipment may remain undetected for a long time where you lose efficiency, as well as incur high energy costs or major repair costs. In addition to exorbitantly increasing operating expenses, HVAC system problems can also cause health problems in workers, result in sickness and absenteeism as well as reduce your overall workforce productivity by 6%-10%.
One of the major steps you can take to improve your system efficiency and make your building into an energy saving one is to install a monitoring system that covers the entire HVAC system, including chillers, exhaust fans, and so on. The HVAC monitoring app can help you identify issues and get corrected in real time, thus preventing any lag time. Furthermore, consumption profiles can be easily evaluated by machine learning algorithms to provide accurate forecasts of future problems. This enables you to take preventive measures and fix the problem proactively and thereby reduce major servicing and repair costs as well as save time.
In addition, today’s advanced IoT solutions lets you manage the entire system remotely from anywhere with cellular connectivity. You can do multiple tasks through your HVAC monitoring app such as:
- Monitor and energy consumption- Find out exactly how much energy you are using for heating and ventilation.
- Perform energy audits- Get real time statistics and reports on historical energy profile.
- Detect energy wastages instantly – Set up alerts whenever certain levels are reached.
- Operate equipment remotely- Control and better manage your equipment from anywhere, anytime.
How does the HVAC monitoring system work?
In today’s fast paced technological era, HVAC monitoring system offers cost effective solutions to provide 24/7 tracking and regulating your HVAC units. With this, as a facility manager or building operating you can get useful data, observe trends, and optimize usage that helps in lowering energy costs and carbon footprint. It uses sensors for collecting building data and displays this data in a single interface for actions to be taken promptly. This provides today’s progressive building operators with a high-level knowledge and understanding of their HVAC units without relying on technicians all the time and helps them detect any anomaly that can prevent costly damage and repairs.
In addition, the data provides a holistic view of the HVAC system, so it accurately predicts usage demand of HVAC system, thus optimizing its use. If at any point real-time demand does not match the predicted demand, the system can trigger an alert sent directly to the building operator whenever there is an anomaly. This enables the building manager to resolve any impending issues speedily as well as improves HVAC system efficiency.
A-TECH Engineering, a leading building automation and HVAC controls provider in Toronto, provides you with state-of-the-art HVAC monitoring system that helps you reduce energy bills and increase efficiency. In addition, you can also avail innovative HVAC cleaning technology that helps not only increase efficiency but also improve indoor air quality by killing germs and microbes and reducing risk and transmission of diseases like COVID-19. To learn more, connect with an A-TECH Engineering specialist today and take control of your building system.
A building automation system no doubt provides building owners and facility managers with a plethora of benefits such as smooth performance, increased efficiency, lower costs and so on. As a result, it might compel you to think why bother to upgrade it when it is working perfectly well? Although it is logical for you to be concerned about this, an upgrade to IoT connected BAS can step up the entire system and provide you with unprecedented benefits that a traditional BAS simply cannot. In this article we discuss how IoT benefits and strengthens your building automation system and leave it up to you to decide whether you should consider updating your system or not.
What is the IoT?
Before we delve into the benefits of integrating IoT and building automation system, let us first take a look at what is the IoT or Internet of Things. IoT is simply utilizing internet connectivity, cellular communication, and sensors or microprocesses to monitor and control things we use in our regular lives from our homes to office to cars. IoT does not only refer to communication over the web via machines rather it starts with web connectivity to devices and sensors, combines powerful data with the goal to generate valuable insights that can be accessed through a user interface. For the Building Automation System (BAS) industry, devices and sensors can be found at the direct digital control (DDC) level such as rooftop HVAC units, lighting fixtures and so on. The use of IoT enabled BAS empowers not only BAS providers and system manufacturers but also a wide range of stakeholders, including facility managers, building owners, energy managers, utility providers as well as building occupants.
How the IoT strengthens Building Automation System
Access to real-time data
With an IoT empowered Building Automation System, as a facility or building manager you can get real-time data of your building systems at your fingertips, anywhere. This access makes it easier for you to monitor and control the various building systems, take prompt and better decisions that help enhance the building system. It also means that the data you receive is simplified and user-friendly, so that you do not always have to rely on technicians to come to your rescue. You also get to see real-time trends, understand them, and take steps that are better for your business. For example, from HVAC monitoring data you can see an area of your property is being overheated or underheated, you can optimize your HVAC system to make sure the problem is solved. This will save energy as well as enhance occupancy comfort.
Holistic overview of building system
Integrating IoT solutions with Building Automation System means more than just controlling your building systems such as HVAC or lighting. It gives you a full overview of the entire building, so you gain better insight into your building operations – whether it is HVAC performance, equipment condition, or security issue. For example, temperature sensors in important assets like chiller can reveal existing issues, provide predictive analysis so that you can take preventive measures and reduce maintenance and repair costs.
Lower utility costs
Since one of the major purposes of building automation system is to reduce utility costs, IoT helps to achieve just that. With traditional BAS, HVAC system could be controlled in a pre-set, uniform manner. However, since everything is predefined, it can result in overheating or underheating some areas. In such cases IoT sensors provide real-time data and enable better in-demand control thereby reducing wasted energy costs. In addition, with easy access to helpful insights, facility managers or building owners can transform their building into an energy saving building by observing trends in lighting or HVAC system and ensuring better management of the system. For example, using submetering with IoT provides property managers as well as users to find out accurate usage of power consumption and take necessary actions to reduce utility costs as well as identify problems.
Reducing carbon footprint
Many industries depend on efficient use of HVAC system to reduce their carbon footprint. An IoT enabled Building Automation System helps in identifying energy waste, reducing energy costs, improving efficiency, and reducing carbon footprint. As a result, for today’s energy conscious facility managers or building owners, investing in IoT connected BAS is a rational step in order to reduce environmental impact of the business.
Enhanced comfort of building occupants
Whether you are a facility manager or a business owner, it is imperative that the building occupants are living or working in a safe, healthy, and comfortable environment to ensure satisfaction as well as productivity. Investing in IoT powered BAS in this case provides you with accurate and better control of the environment thereby elevating occupants’ comfort. Whether it is improving indoor air quality, controlling temperature or lighting, IoT sensors play a powerful role in maintaining a healthy and comfortable indoor ambiance.
In addition, with access to real-time data facility managers can accurately monitor the usage of the property, schedule maintenance, repair or cleaning activities in a timely manner and provide an elevated experience of comfort to the building occupants. This in return fosters productivity and good will among the building occupants, resulting in greater ROI.
In today’s technological advanced era, relying on traditional building automation system is no longer sufficient. Advanced IoT technologies have greatly modernized the building automation system and taken it to a whole new level that gives you better control and management, reduced cost, increased efficiency, and improved comfort level. Connect with A-TECH Engineering – a leading building automation and controls service provider in Toronto to learn more and get custom solutions for your building.
Even though air pollution has been in the talks all over the world for decades, indoor air quality is still something that is not talked about or taken seriously enough. We tend to take the air we breathe for granted even though it is of grave importance and affects our day-to-day lives in a myriad of ways. Indoor air quality concerns are not something to be taken lightly. In addition, with the onset of covid-19 indoor air quality assessment has become even more important to ensure the safety of building occupants especially in the workplace as people spend a great amount of time at their work. In this article we delve into the importance of IAQ in the workplace and ways to improve air quality.
Indoor Air Quality in Workplace
Whether you have workers employed for a few hours or for a full day, it is important for them to be in a healthy environment. For some sensitive or immunocompromised people, working for a few minutes in a building with poor air quality can have serious effects. If the heating and cooling system in your workplace is outdated, then it is highly likely that you and your workers are breathing in years of pollutants or mold that has accumulated over time. It would definitely benefit you to get the air quality in your facility or building checked as indoor air quality does not only affect comfort of your workers but also the health and productivity of your staff, thus affecting your organization goal achievement.
How indoor air quality can affect your employees?
- Poor workplace indoor air quality can negatively impact upon the physical and mental health of your workers.
- If any of your workers suffer from asthma or allergies, poor air quality can worsen the symptoms.
- It can result in eye, nose, throat, lung irritation, headaches, dizziness, fatigue.
- In addition, medical problems from poor indoor air quality can include hypersensitivity pneumonitis, asthma, heart disease, flu and in extreme cases even cancer and others.
- It can also increase absenteeism of your employees from work due to health issues and reduce productivity.
- During covid-19, poor ventilation systems can increase spread and risk of transmission.
What causes poor indoor air quality in the workplace?
There are several factors that can contribute to poor indoor air quality in the workplace including:
- Inefficient, old, or improper functioning of the HVAC system.
- Error in building design, architecture, or construction flaws such as not adequate windows or openings.
- Tightly closed spaces with a high number of employees.
- Environmental pollutants such as dust, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke due to poor ventilation systems.
- Chemical pollutants such as formaldehyde from pressed-wood furniture, plywood wall paneling; asbestos from insulation ceiling tiles, etc; VOC from cleaners and disinfectants, air fresheners, dry-cleaned clothes, etc.
- Building renovation projects such as painting and cleaning work that release pollutants into the environment.
- Improper disposal of garbage or storage of food products.
- Presence of mold, especially if high humidity or unaddressed water damage issues exist in the building.
How can you improve indoor air quality in your workplace?
Indoor air quality in the workplace is equally important to both the employers and employees. As a result, both have to take steps to ensure that the workplace is free from air pollutants and harmful contaminants. This will improve the working environment for the employees, boost confidence and productivity of the staff and give better results for the organization as a whole.
Here are some steps to alleviate poor IAQ in workplace –
- Find the contaminant sources of harmful chemicals and take the necessary steps to replace, contain, or eliminate them from the workplace. For example, if there is renovation work in a part of your building, make sure they are contained only in part of the workplace and not affecting your workers.
- Educate your employees on the sources and effects of pollutants and motivate them to take action or notify the management in case of hazardous exposure or health issues.
- Ensure that workplace premises are regularly cleaned and disinfected to minimize sickness.
- Install efficient ventilation systems to ensure the uninterrupted flow of fresh air throughout your workplace.
- Employ air-cleaning devices such as dehumidifiers and air purifiers in the workplace.
- Make sure air ducts and filters are regularly cleaned and replaced when they become obsolete.
- Perform routine maintenance of the HVAC system to ensure that it is functioning correctly. Hire professionals to evaluate and address poor IAQ issues at your workplace.
- Use advanced building automation systems such as HVAC monitoring app to monitor the performance and health of your HVAC system.
- If you are an employee who faces health issues only in the workplace notify your manager or concerned authority.
As an employer or a business owner, listen to your workers when they complain of health issues and take the necessary steps. It will not only alleviate the problem but also boost employee morale which is ultimately beneficial for your company as well as result in energy savings. The best approach is to use a multiple strategy such as use of air purifiers, HEPA air filters, regular cleaning and disinfecting of premises, maintenance of HVAC, proper workplace set up to ensure clean and healthy work environment. A-TECH Engineering Ltd. – a leading energy company based in Toronto aims to ensure high indoor air quality through unique and diverse strategies. Connect with us to know more about our zero-upfront cost indoor air quality monitoring program to help you reopen safely.