How IoT Steps Up Your Building Automation 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.

 

Importance of Indoor Air Quality in the Workplace

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. 

How To Improve Energy Efficiency of Wineries

Energy efficiency and sustainability are a growing concern for energy conscious businesses including wineries. From running a winery for day-to-day operation to producing wine and storing wine, a large amount of energy is consumed in all of the processes. This leaves winery businesses with significant areas of improvement through which wineries can become energy efficient and reduce energy costs while also reducing impact on the carbon footprint. Wineries utilize several energy and water intensive methods that can significantly gain from conservation strategies. Unveiling these savings can not only help boost your bottom line but also aid in your winery becoming more environmentally responsible. In this article we delve at some of the energy consuming areas in wineries and ways to improve energy efficiency of wineries and reduce energy costs.

Energy Consumption in Wineries

Electricity is the major source of energy at wineries. However, wineries also use other sources of energy like gas for water heaters, boilers, and engines. Consumption of these fluctuates contingent on the amount of hot water or steam required. It can be said approximately half of the electricity consumed at wineries are spent towards refrigeration at various stages of the winemaking process, including fermentation cooling, cold stabilization, and cold storage. Others are spent for lighting, air-conditioning, air-compressors and so on.

Optimizing refrigeration

Since refrigeration consumes 50% of energy in wineries, it befits winemaking businesses to improve efficiency of refrigeration system, such as optimizing or upgrading compressors. For instance, an easy to improve energy efficiency of wineries is insulating tanks for fermenting wine. This can reduce energy consumption by 25%. In addition, focusing on actual consumption can also help reduce energy costs for wineries. For instance, tanks that do not need frequent refrigeration should not be kept overly cold and should be turned off when they are not in use. Powering the refrigeration system at a marginally higher temperature can also save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, from your energy bill.

Controlling temperature 

Energy management experts agree that refrigeration is the major source of energy saving when it comes to wineries. However, regulating temperature in various stages of wine production can also have a significant effect on reducing energy consumption of wineries. For example, adjusting temperature during fermenting the wine not only impacts on quality of ferment produced but can also significantly give you energy savings. Colder temperatures increase the ability of wines to absorb oxygen which results in premature aging, so using a slightly higher temperature can both improve the quality and reduce your energy bill.

Proper and efficient use of compressors and pumps

Compressors consume a lot of energy and also provide ample scope of savings if utilized efficiently. For instance, when wine production is halted, turning off compressors can result in significant energy savings. In addition, in multiple compressor usage, lead and lag time variation can also play an important role in improving energy efficiency of wineries so that there is no work overload on any one of the compressors.

Also, in many large wineries, using multiple pumps can be a cost-effective and efficient way to handle varying loads. This step can result in 10% – 50% energy savings used for pumping.

Another method for energy saving in wineries can be to utilize variable speed drives on compressors. Although its initial cost can be high, it surely offers long term benefits. Approximately 20-30% reduction in energy use can be achieved by installing variable speed drives whereas larger-scale wineries could yield even better results in terms of savings.

Switching to LED Lighting

Although lighting is not a major energy consumer as other factors when it comes to energy efficiency of wineries, this does not mean that it should be completely overlooked. In fact, it has been seen from studying several wineries that on average, it takes up around five per cent of total energy consumed. So it definitely offers scope of reducing costs by adopting more efficient options such as switching to LED lighting. Even though the price per unit of LED bulbs is expensive, they are undoubtedly a sustainable option for many winemakers and the break-even period is also short for wineries that require heavy use of lighting.

Optimizing HVAC system

HVAC system also contributes to significant energy consumption in wineries and can be optimized for increased efficiency. For example, automated HVAC controls depending on outside temperature or season can result in better energy savings. Similarly, it is imperative to ensure that your HVAC system is regularly checked and serviced by professional HVAC contractor such as A-TECH Engineering to help prevent costly heating and cooling bills. 

Investing in building automation system

To maximize energy efficiency of wineries, investing in an automated system can make the winery run smoothly, eliminate the factor of human error and result in a higher bottom line. Efficient building automation system can help you operate the winery prudently throughout the year and will potentially save thousands of dollars through smart energy use. For example, with building automation, you will not need to rely on a person to turn on refrigeration at 12:00 am and turn it off at 6:00 am during off-production hours. 

Many wineries- whether big or small producers are shifting to sustainable practices for operating wineries efficiently. It not only produces better produce and results in savings but also creates a good impression as the world is increasingly becoming aware of our impact on the environment. Connect with an A-TECH Engineering – a leading energy company in Toronto – today to unlock the potential of your winery and maximize efficiency.

Aging Cooling Towers? Find out if you should replace or rebuild your cooling tower

Many building or facility managers are unaware of the importance of cooling towers in buildings. Usually cooling tower efficiency is completely neglected once it has been installed. Over time cooling towers lose their efficiency and it can result in a wide range of problems, costing you not only high energy costs but also downtime. As a building manager, you might think that it is best to replace the old cooling tower with a new one without going into the hassle of refurbishing it. However, although sometimes replacement of cooling towers is the only viable option, rebuilding it can also be done which can make the cooling tower function just as new. In this article let’s take a look at the reasons to rebuild cooling tower and why it can be a better option for you rather than replacing it. Before that let’s get into what the cooling tower is and what are its applications.

COOLING TOWER AND ITS USES

A cooling tower is basically a heat rejecting device or heat exchanger. It functions by bringing air and water into direct contact with each other in order to reduce the water’s temperature. Upon contact, water is evaporated, thereby reducing the temperature of the water that is being circulated through the tower. The cooled water is then propelled back into the condenser or process equipment where it absorbs the heat and the cycle is repeated.

Cooling towers are mainly used to facilitate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems as well as in industrial processes. It offers a relatively cost-effective and energy efficient operation of systems that require cooling down temperatures. It is estimated that over 1,500 industrial facilities use large quantities of water to cool their plants. In addition it is used for HVAC systems that are found in large commercial buildings, offices, schools, hospitals and so on. Industrial cooling towers are also employed to remove the heat for several industrial processes in power plants, natural gas processing plants, food processing plants, petroleum refineries, besides other industrial facilities

REASONS TO REBUILD COOLING TOWER

Although there may be instances where you have no alternative but to replace the cooling tower, rebuilding it has several advantages including:

Cost effective– Cooling towers even with proper, regular maintenance and services have an approximate shelf life of 15-20 years. Some of the common problems developed by cooling towers over time include corrosion, scaling and fouling all of which results in loss of efficiency. If you try to replace the cooling tower without considering a rebuild, it can prove to be a costly endeavour for you. For example, rebuilding cooling towers can provide you with up to 20% cost savings as well as saving in labour cost and installation. 

Increased lifespan – Instead of replacing your cooling towers, when you decide to rebuild cooling tower, you can save thousands of dollars while increasing the lifespan of the cooling tower by an additional 15-20 years.

Increased efficiency – Rebuilding your cooling towers from qualified professionals will also restore your cooling tower to brand new condition with 100% efficiency, thereby making your building energy saving.

HOW DOES COOLING TOWER REBUILDING WORK?

Cooling tower rebuilding primarily focuses on fixing the structural integrity of the cooling tower. However, before proceeding on rebuilding your cooling tower, an analysis needs to be carried out to determine if the cooling tower is safe to rebuild and what kind of work needs to be done to increase the efficiency. Some common things to look for during this analysis include checking the structural integrity of the cooling tower, checking for signs of corrosion and signs of wear and tear, checking pipes, nozzles, the overall water distribution system, mechanical components as well as the condition of the fill media.

Once you have decided to rebuild and refurbish your cooling tower, you can think of some cooling tower upgrades that enhance its efficiency and increase the lifespan. For example, one of the common cooling tower upgrades is replacing wood components tower with fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) which are much more long lasting. In addition, there are also thermal upgrades available for cooling towers that are worth the bucks as they significantly increase efficiency and prolong lifespan of the cooling tower.

A-TECH Engineering – a leading energy company based in Toronto offers professional and reliable cooling tower services as well as HVAC controls and contracting services for your commercial building that can save you thousands of dollars. To learn more about rebuilding cooling tower or to request an estimate for cooling tower rebuilding, connect with an A-TECH team member today.

Importance of CO2, Temperature and Humidity in Our Spaces

Initially most people used to be concerned about outdoor air quality and pollution. However, with advancement in research and technology it has been revealed that indoor air quality is just as important if not more. Because of building structures, ventilation system, it is much more likely for pollutants and contaminants to linger in indoor spaces longer, thereby reducing air quality. Monitoring indoor air quality has gained a lot of momentum over the recent years, even more so with the onset of COVID-19 pandemic and detecting carbon dioxide, temperature as well as humidity are all correlated with air quality. In this article, we delve into the correlation among CO2, temperature, humidity, and air quality as well as the importance of CO2/T/H monitoring in our spaces.

CO2/T/H and Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality or IAQ is generally defined as air quality within and around buildings, especially in relation to its impact on the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can greatly help mitigate the risk of indoor health concerns, including transmission of diseases like COVID-19. Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or even decades later down the road. IAQ is especially important in commercial buildings and offices in order to enhance employee productivity and morale.

IAQ is affected by both external and internal environments. It can be deteriorated by outdoor air pollution from traffic, surrounding industrial, construction and combustion activities whereas internal factors such as ventilation system, furniture, building users, etc. can also significantly influence IAQ. Usually, CO2 is the common indicator of air quality in buildings, whereas indoor air temperature and humidity are key indicators of occupant’s thermal comfort. In addition, high levels of relative humidity may pose additional problems such as condensation and mold formation which not only adversely affects building infrastructure but also causes health problems. 

Reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission indoors

Perhaps under current significance, the greatest role of having CO2/T/H monitoring comes in the form of reducing the transmission of pathogens like COVID-19. A high amount of CO2 in the air translates into a high number of aerosols and reduces indoor air quality. This increases the risk of infection for everyone in the room. Moreover, several studies have revealed that poorly ventilated indoor spaces can increase the possibility of aerosol transmission of COVID-19. With CO2/T/H monitoring this can be kept under control by controlling CO2 level. 

Boost staff productivity and morale

It has been seen that if CO2 is present in high concentration, it can negatively impact cognitive ability, thereby influencing work performance. With different levels of CO2 exposure, your symptoms can vary from a minor headache and lack of concentration to lightheadedness and reduced cognitive performance. Office workers, factory workers, and students are especially at risk of exposure to high CO2 levels – almost greater than even 2500 ppm whereas the recommended level is just under 1000 ppm. The fact that CO2 is an odorless and colorless gas makes it harder to detect. However, with a CO2/T/H sensor, you will know when CO2 levels are close to dangerous levels and take preventive measures. 

Lower your utility bills

Many people wrongly assume that turning on and off HVAC systems as required is enough to control utility bills. However, it actually has a contradictory effect on utility bills as HVAC systems will simply work harder when you turn it on to adjust to comfortable levels. With CO2/T/H monitoring you can improve CO2 level, temperature as well as humidity resulting in better ventilation and improved indoor air quality, thereby reducing workload on your HVAC and thus lowering your utility bills.

Achieve optimum humidity

Having a balanced humidity in your building is also a reflection of good IAQ. When the amount of water in the air surpasses the normal requirement, your immediate environment can become detrimental as increased humidity tends to make you feel stuffy and cause heavy breathing.

Too much humidity also causes mold growth which has its own health problems whereas less humidity leads to cold and dry environment. This can cause dry skin, static shock, and nose bleeding. With a CO2/T/H monitor, you can achieve balanced humidity and improve IAQ through regular checkup and adjustments.


Indoor air quality plays a pivotal role, especially in improving health and performance of building occupants as pathogens and pollutants linger for prolonged hours at typical air exchange rates in buildings. A-TECH Engineering Ltd. – an advanced energy company is offering three months free CO2/T/H indoor monitoring to improve your indoor air quality and provide cost-saving solutions. Connect with us to learn more.

How Submetering Benefits Multistoried Residential Buildings

Traditional multi-residential buildings usually have a single central meter installed that provides the consumption information of the entire building infrastructure. As a result, most of the time individual residents have an inequitable allocation of energy costs as they have no real data to find out actual consumption by individual residents. In modern times, submetering is becoming increasingly popular to multi-storied residents, property managers and owners, as it provides accurate consumption data and provides fair allocation of energy costs. 

SO WHAT IS SUBMETERING?

Submetering, also sometimes called suite metering, incorporates use of meters to measure the energy consumption of each individual unit in a multi-storied building like an apartment, condominium, townhome and so on.  Submetering solutions for multistoried residential buildings include electricity, water, gas, and thermal submetering. 

Electrical submetering – Electricity costs are one of the highest building operating costs in any building and with traditional metering systems, there is no real way to account for accurate energy consumption. Electrical submetering allows measurement of each suite’s energy consumption, helps tenants become more energy conscious and curbs superfluous energy costs.

Water submetering – Submetering water in multistoried residential buildings can help reduce water wastage, reduce building operating costs, and enhance water conservation as they provide unit-wise consumption of water in a building.

Gas submetering – In addition to electricity and water submetering, gas is another building utility that can also have a submetering system. Individual tenants are billed for their gas consumption. Gas submetering can be an excellent option for apartments, condominiums or townhomes that have in-suite gas stoves, fireplaces, or BBQs.

Thermal submetering – With thermal submetering, property managers, owners as well as occupants can better control and manage heating and cooling costs as it allows each suite to be responsible for the heating and cooling that they use.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SUBMETERING?

Submetering is especially beneficial for multi-storied residentials as well as facilities that have an extensive network of units or facilities where energy management is of great concern. Submetering individual suites allows for lower energy consumption — up to 40% in multi-unit residential buildings. As utility costs continue to increase, tenants demand fair energy cost allocation and lower utility bills while property owners or managers look for ways to reduce building operating costs and increase energy efficiency.


BETTER MANAGE AND MAINTAIN YOUR BUILDING


In addition to allowing the individual resident or building manager to monitor energy consumption precisely in real-time via IoT solutions, the system also stores real-time energy usage data. This data can facilitate the energy manager to analyze and compare energy consumption in similar buildings over a period of time. It can also help in identifying areas where energy is being wasted and take improved decisions that optimizes the building performance, curbs energy costs as well as carbon footprint.

 

FAIR ENERGY COST ALLOCATION

Tenants living in multi-storied residential buildings and traditional metered buildings are usually billed on the square footage of their space. The electricity bill accounts for the entire building and depends on the amount of space each resident rents. As a results tenants are billed on the entire consumption of all the residents and not as per their individual consumption. However, with submeter, each tenant is billed for the exact energy amount they consumed. 

GET ACCURATE AND DETAILED ENERGY ANALYTICS

Users of multi-storied residential buildings can better track their energy usage, identify areas of energy waste, improve energy consumption habits, and reduce the overall consumption costs. 

MOTIVATE BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES THAT LOWER ENERGY CONSUMPTION AND COSTS

Submetering utilities such as electricity, hydro, thermal and gas provides real-time individual suite consumption. As a result, users are billed based on actual consumption and they have a clear idea of their energy consumption habits.  This fair-pay system has been proven to reduce energy consumption and lower costs by motivating behavioral changes such as turning off lights or air-conditioning, when leaving a room.

Today’s property owners, managers – even individuals are conscious about energy sustainability and committed to reducing their carbon footprint. Submeter is no doubt here to stay and an excellent option for multi-residential building owners and managers to have access to energy consumption data that is precise and utilize it to make informed decisions, reduce energy costs and carbon footprint. 

At A-TECH Engineering – a leading energy company based in Toronto, we provide submetering solutions including electricity, water, gas and thermal via strategic partners to transform your multistoried residential building into an energy saving building. Connect with A-TECH Engineering member to find out how our submetering solutions can help you.