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. 

COVID-19 Building Optimization: Reopening Guidelines for Business & Workplace

With covid-19 pandemic still ongoing all over the world and new variants emerging frequently, it is no doubt that reopening your business in the current stage has to be a critically thought-out decision. Although many regions have been given the green light for reopening, as a business owner, there are several factors to consider and guidelines to follow that will ensure that you reopen your business in a safe and responsible manner for both the staff and customers. In this article, we take a deep delve into how you can navigate these unprecedented times and reopen your business or workplace safely and confidently with covid-19 building optimization.

Have a workplace safety plan

As an employer it is your duty to ensure that your workers or employees as well as clients are in a safe environment that mitigates the spread of covid-19. You should have a covid-19 safety plan written as per requirement of all operating businesses. Make sure that the plan is easily accessible to all your employees and visitors. It is important that all the people related to your business are aware of the plan. Also do not forget to regularly change or update the plan as the pandemic is evolving daily.

Ensure covid-19 building optimization

To reduce risk of covid-19 transmission make sure your building is optimized to prevent the spread. For example, rearrange your employees’ workstations to ensure they are 6 feet apart. Create appropriate hand sanitizing stations, screening areas, install awareness signage and stickers in high traffic areas. If your business has visitors or customers, install plexi-glass screens. Make sure the building is well-stocked with hand sanitizers in appropriate places.

Inspect the HVAC system

Since covid-19 has been established as an airborne disease, air quality at your workplace is of paramount concern. Lack of ventilation, inefficient and dirt-clogged HVAC systems not only increase your utility bills but also increase risk of covid-19 transmission through poor air circulation. Before reopening, make sure your HVAC system is serviced, cleaned, and disinfected to mitigate the risk of covid-19 transmission. In addition, improve ventilation and airflow wherever possible as this helps in reducing covid-19 spread.

Invest in HVAC monitoring system

Simply maintaining and cleaning your HVAC system is not enough. With time the HVAC system loses its efficiency with build up of dirt and biofilms. To maintain indoor air quality and ensure a safe environment for your workers, you can try investing in HVAC monitoring app or CO2/T/H monitoring which will send you automated alerts when air quality is poor through sensors that detect CO2, temperature, and humidity levels in an area. This will not only help minimize the risk of covid-19 spread but also ensure overall health and productivity of your employees, thus benefiting you in a multitude of ways.

Sterilize the building

Covid-19 can be spread by surface touching, so it is imperative that you make sure the premises are disinfected to eliminate the risk before reopening your facility or workplace. Whether you have a retail store, an office space or a large industrial area, make sure every square footage of your premises is disinfected. There are several disinfecting methods available that can kill germs even upto 99.9999% and are very fast and efficient. Make sure you hire a professional disinfection service provider that can do the job thoroughly for covid-19 building optimization.

Inspect facility operations

If your building has been unoccupied for a long period of time, before reopening you must ensure that the building systems are running smoothly. For example, perform security and fire alarm checks. Ensure all the tools and equipment are functional and check for signs of structural damage or pest infestation and take necessary steps to fix the issue.

 

Regular cleaning and disinfecting

Apart from sterilizing the building before reopening, to ensure covid-19 building optimization, you also need to have a regular cleaning and disinfecting schedule in place. This should be done for all high traffic areas including entrance, washroom, kitchen, common space as well as high contact surfaces such as desks, doorknobs, workstations and so on. Use hard surface furniture that are easy to clean. Make sure there is adequate supply of cleaners and disinfectants in your building and maintain a log of cleaning and disinfecting schedule.

Have a schedule in place for employees returning to work

Make sure all your employees’ and suppliers’ contact information are updated. Make a list of employees that must return to work immediately and those who can continue working from home. Remember elderly, immune compromised, and chronic illness suffering patients are vulnerable to covid-19. Also, use a staggered return schedule to avoid a large number of employees returning at once.
Determine your building capacity and schedule number of employees at work accordingly to avoid crowded gatherings as prolonged exposure in enclosed and congested spaces can raise the risk of transmission. Have an assigned personnel or HR team that can smoothly handle the transition of employees’ return to the workplace.

Raise covid-19 awareness in the workplace

The first step for any prevention tactic is to raise awareness of the issue. Communicate the risks associated with covid-19 to your employees such as how it is transmitted, steps to prevent it, its symptoms, what to do if someone has been infected with covid-19 and so on. For example, educate your employees to maintain personal hygiene and safety procedures such as avoidance of touching nose, eyes and mouth, covering nose with an elbow while sneezing, regular hand washing with sanitizers, avoiding large gatherings in small, crowded places like the kitchen, not sharing personal belongings and so on. Your employees should also know when to self-isolate if someone has covid-19 symptoms.  You can read more on what to do if someone in your building has been infected with covid-19 here. Additionally, if you reside in Canada, here are additional resources on workplace safety during covid-19.

Take control measures to minimize the risk

Prevention is better than cure. As an employer it is your responsibility to take the maximum precautions for the safety of your employee as well as customers. Apart from covid-19 building optimization, make sure that your staff follow appropriate measures to reduce the spread of covid-19. For example, if physical distancing is not possible, have staff and visitors in the building premises wear face masks.
 

With the above guidelines along with your region’s public health guidelines, you can reopen your business safely while ensuring safety of your workers and customers. A-TECH Engineering Ltd, a leading building automation system and controls provider in Toronto, provides a number of solutions such as sterilization packages via partners, HVAC system disinfection, indoor air quality monitoring and more. Connect with an A-TECH specialist to find out how we can optimize your building for covid-19 and help you reopen safely and confidently. 

Understanding CHP or Combined Heat and Power

Several organizations today are inclined towards sustainable business practices with the aim to conserve the environment. In addition, the need to reduce exorbitant energy costs and enhance efficiency drives organizations in every industry. This is why many progressive organizations actively look for alternatives to traditional energy use such as electricity and heat. As such, one of the widely used energy generating methods is using CHP or commonly known as combined heat and power. This method provides organizations with a number of benefits in comparison to the traditional thermal and electricity production. However, before going into that, let us delve deeper into what CHP is, how it works and its many advantages. 

WHAT IS CHP?

Combined heat and power, also known as cogeneration, refers to the combined use of a heat engine or power station to generate electricity and heat concurrently. Cogeneration offers a much more efficient method to use energy as it generates electricity and converts the excess heat which can be used in a productive way such as for heating water, the space itself, or something else. In this way, it does not waste the excess heat produced. Cogeneration or CHP have been prevalent for decades during the earliest development of electrical generation. Before power stations were in use, industries producing local power used exhaust steam in heating. Large commercial and residential buildings, facilities like hotels, and stores usually generated their own power and used the waste steam for heating systems.

There are a number of CHP systems available, however, two of the most common CHP systems are:

  • Combustion turbine, or reciprocating engine, with heat recovery device
  • Steam boiler with steam turbine

There is also trigeneration, also known as combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP), which refers to the concurrent production of electricity and useful heating and cooling from a single heat source such as fuel or solar energy.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

CHP units such as combustion CHP systems usually work by burning fuel to turn generators for producing electricity and using a device to store heat that can be reused or by producing steam that can be used to turn a turbine to run a generator for producing electricity as is the case of steam turbines. The steam is then used to generate additional thermal energy for some other use.
CHP units can come in various sizes and can provide service to large residential buildings as well as
generation plants used for running factories or warehouses.

APPLICATIONS

CHP has been widely prevalent in many industries since the 1900s as it is looked upon as a more efficient form of energy production. It Is used widely in several industries, facilities and buildings including:

 

  • Commercial buildings—office, hotels, health clubs, nursing homes
  • Residential buildings—condominiums, co-ops, apartments, gated community
  • Facilities—schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, military bases
  • Power —wastewater treatment facilities, district energy systems
  • Industries—chemical, refining, paper, food processing, glass manufacturing, etc.

 

In addition, they are typically installed in facilities or locations that require both electricity and thermal energy. This is also called combined heat and power district heating since the energy generated is used locally and the process minimizes loss of energy and increases efficiency. Although the biggest advantage of using the CHP system is its efficiency, it has a number of other benefits as well. 

Increased Efficiency

Usually, traditional electricity production allows heat to escape into the environment. This results in almost two-thirds of the energy to be lost. On the other hand, combined heat and power generation reuse the heat eliminating waste. As a result, CHP enabled systems can effortlessly have efficiencies higher than 90% whereas traditional electrical and thermal generation provide only up to 50% efficiency.

Reduces Carbon Footprint

Many organizations today are extremely conscious towards employing sustainable solutions that are highly environment friendly. Combined heat and power enabled system generally consumes less fuel than methods of electricity production. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants, enabling your organization to reduce its carbon footprint.

Provides Uninterrupted Power Supply

Since CHP systems are highly efficient, they also reduce energy costs for buildings or facilities. In addition, as the source is installed on-site, it provides energy generation even during local power disruptions, thereby ensuring there is no downtime in your operations. Usually around 7% of energy can be lost when a grid is used to transfer energy from the source of power generation to the end user, thereby increasing the overall efficiency of CHP.

CHP


Although the CHP system requires installation and maintenance cost, the benefit it brings to your organization largely offsets the cost with increased efficiency and energy savings as well as reducing energy waste and carbon footprint. A-TECH Engineering – an advanced energy company based in Toronto provides innovative energy solutions including cogeneration or CHP systems. There are several criteria to assess before a CHP unit can be installed in your building or facility to suit your goals and needs. Connect with an A-TECH specialist to discuss the scope of work for your building and transform your building into an energy saving one. 

Energy Management System for Commercial Buildings

No matter which industry you belong to – whether it is an office building you run, a commercial retail shop you own or an industrial building, as a facility or building manager you must be aware of the role of having an efficient energy management system that ensures your building systems are operating smoothly at all times. It not only provides a sustainable solution for your business but also guarantees comfort of the occupants, thereby boosting productivity and improving your bottom line. This is why it is imperative that when considering energy management system, you pay ample attention to several factors such as ensuring the system is aligned to your business goals and invest in a system that helps you achieve them. In this article we delve into how having an energy management system can benefit your business in a sustainable and efficient way. 

 

Energy Management System

Energy management systems used for buildings, also known as BEMS, refer to integrated building energy management and building automation systems. They combine the use of IoT, data analytics and other digital communication technologies to provide a holistic approach resulting in better control and optimization of the building system. The system may have multiple layers approach from various sensors connected to a unified interface. The goal is to enable data collection, analysis, trend monitoring and so on in order to provide smart and fast decision-making. Building energy management system can provide easy access to building automation systems from several platforms and various locations. Ultimately, the system enables an efficient and dynamic control of the indoor climate in a cost-effective way while ensuring the safety, comfort, and well-being of the building occupants. For an energy management system to be efficient and sustainable, it is imperative to consider the following areas:

 

Working towards the goal of reducing carbon footprint

 

Carbon footprint is defined as “the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions” that your building or facility releases into the environment in any one-year period. In today’s energy-conscious era, as a responsible business owner it becomes prudent for you to strive towards achieving better energy management, increasing sustainability, and reducing the impact of your organization on climate change – which is where the energy management system comes to play a significant role. By employing an efficient energy management system for your building, you can effortlessly monitor CO2 emissions and take preventive steps to minimize it, thereby contributing positively to reduce global warming. 

 

Ensuring environmental friendliness

 

Apart from CO2 emissions, most commercial buildings are a major contributor to releasing other environment pollutants as they use an array of harmful chemicals in their day-to-day operations such as methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and so on. When you opt for a reliable energy management system, it also ensures the effective monitoring and controlling of these gases and ensures that your organization adheres to sustainable practices and promotes use of environment friendly processes.

 

Reducing energy bills

 

Investing in energy management system plays a significant role in keeping your operations costs from surging high. It is important that the energy management system you utilize is efficient and also one that does not compromise with the operation process. For instance, you might be thinking of investing in an effective ‘daylighting’ system that allows you to harness solar power with the potential for use in building lighting, which ultimately reduces your electricity consumption. In such cases, the use of a proper roofing system can also be a huge help to significantly lower energy consumption. A proper roofing system ensures an ideal temperature is maintained inside the facility and therefore can significantly contribute to efficient use of HVAC systems. Hence both the systems work synergistically to dramatically reduce the overall operational costs of your building.

 

Utilizing an efficient energy monitoring system

 

Since efficiency and savings are two major components of any energy management system, the application of energy monitoring system is not only reasonable but also ultimately necessary. Energy monitoring system not only helps to identify trends in energy use but also gives alerts of potential problems, reducing hassle and cost of major repairs of the building system. In addition, you should also ensure that your energy management system actually adheres to standard energy ratings such as LEED or Energy Star to ensure their efficacy.

 

More and more companies nowadays are implementing robust monitoring and assessment of energy consumption in their facility or building for reducing overall energy costs as well as optimizing efficiency and neither should you lag behind and get started with a qualified energy management services provider. Some companies like A-TECH Engineering offers free evaluation of energy or zero upfront cost to help you get started. Connect with an A-TECH team specialist today to find out more.