AI in Building Automation and HVAC Systems

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.

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.


Building Automation System for Optimizing HVAC System in Winter

As winter has officially arrived in Canada, it brings on a myriad of troubles and unseen issues when it comes to keeping your HVAC system running. This makes the onset of winter the perfect time to start prepping your commercial building so that you do not run into last minute issues, resulting in costly repairs, downtime, and a dent in your profit margin. Although there are several ways you can optimize your HVAC system for tackling winter challenges, investing in an efficient building automation system can definitely take a lot off your plate and keep your HVAC system running smoothly and efficiently.

Importance of Building Automation System for HVAC system

Are you sure that your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system can handle this winter season without giving you any trouble? If you are a commercial building owner or facility manager, then pretty sure you know the energy spikes that take place during winter season to keep the premises running and the occupants comfortable, which is why it is imperative that your HVAC system is functioning efficiently. So how can building automation system help you manage your HVAC system better during the winter season?

Building automation and control system offers a distributed control system tailored to track and manage several building components such as mechanical, HVAC, lighting, security, and so on within a building or several buildings. The ultimate goal of building automation system is to maintain building ambiance in a specific range based on the presence of occupants. In addition, it also helps to monitor the various system and provide updates and alerts regarding any system issues.  With HVAC system overworking during the winter season, it makes sense for commercial building owners and managers to invest in such a system that can do all of these without any hassle or expert help. 

Common HVAC problems in winter and how to solve them

Frozen or malfunctioning heat pump

Rooftop commercial HVAC units are exposed to extreme cold temperatures during harsh winters. Although slight frosting is not an issue, prolonged and repeated exposure can be detrimental to your HVAC system. For example, the HVAC coil could be covered in snow or other debris or may have frosted in freezing rain. Often these rooftop units are out of sight and maintenance is neglected until it is too late. Having a building automation system can help you provide remote HVAC monitoring and alerting while automated defrost setting can ensure your heat pump does not freeze and malfunction. Otherwise, if the coils or fans are frozen and this setting is broken, then you would need to manually remove the frosting. 

 Dirty air filters

During winter, due to extreme weather conditions as well as negligence in proper maintenance of HVAC system can result in dirty air filters. This can obstruct airflow and reduce HVAC system efficiency, making the system put in twice as much work to maintain the building environment. Clogged filters also have a secondary impact on the coils which result in poor heat conduction, improper humidity level and decreased efficiency of the compressor. With building automation system of your HVAC, it can notify you of any anomalies in airflow, pressure change, so that you can take corrective actions. Also, if the filter is permanently discolored or disfigured, you need to replace it with a new one.

Improper airflow

During winter, the required quantity of airflow to heat a space differs than the required airflow in summer as the goal in summer is to cool a room rather than heat. Also, different areas in your building will have different requirements so you may feel one room is colder than others. When you are a commercial building owner or manager, it can be hard for you to track these small nuances. With a building automation system, you can adjust airflow supply settings remotely and make changes in real-time to not only increase your HVAC efficiency but also enhance occupants’ comfort. 

 Incorrect temperature settings

It is very common for humans to forget obvious things like changing temperature settings during the winter season. If you have a thermostat that is not properly calibrated, then your HVAC system will not provide proper heating, whereas investing in a smart thermostat or building automation, allows you to control the heating and cooling of your commercial building much more effectively. With this, you can find out which areas are using unnecessary heating and cut down costs by 20%-50%.

Leaks and improper refrigerant level

Sometimes, your HVAC system can give out cold air even if the thermostat is working properly in case of improper refrigerant level or leaks. When you invest in building automation and controls, you can stay ahead of these issues with alerts even before a major problem occurs and prevent damage to your equipment.

 Carbon monoxide leaks

Although new HVAC systems will be efficient and only release hot or cool air, with time your HVAC system will get rusty and release toxic fumes. Carbon monoxide leaks can be extremely detrimental to health so if you own or manage a commercial building, you must be vigilant about carbon monoxide HVAC problems and have carbon monoxide detectors installed and checked routinely. Also, inspect your heating and cooling equipment by professionals like A-TECH Engineering – a leading HVAC Contractor based in Toronto for making sure they are safe and sound. 

Having a professional HVAC inspection

Apart from investing in building automation system to keep your HVAC running smoothly, you should also make sure that the HVAC system is inspected by a professional annually. These inspections should be done in fall, spring or before onset of winter to prevent major issues when HVAC demand is the highest. Also, it is recommended to have a HVAC maintenance agreement with a qualified and reputable HVAC contractor so you get on time and priority service any time there is an issue. 

You can contact A-TECH Engineering Ltd. to optimize your HVAC system through smart building automation, professional contracting services and discover untapped potential while increasing the lifespan of your HVAC system. 

How Building Automation System Can Increase Your Warehouse Efficiency

Warehouses are essential infrastructures where large volume of goods and products are stored. Owing to their large square feet area and functionality to store goods and products in safe conditions, it is imperative that warehouses are managed efficiently. Because of their purpose of use, warehouse also happens to be big on energy consumption. In today’s technological era, having a building automation system for warehouse can greatly boost efficiency and reduce costs. The key benefits of BAS for warehouses include commercial HVAC controls and energy management system. Building Automation System is also an energy management system that reduces costs by efficiently controlling air conditioning and heating as well increases system performance and enhances occupancy comfort.

Building Automation System

Building automation system refers to the central control of a building’s several systems mainly the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) as well as lighting, security system,  access control, and other interrelated systems through a Building Management System (BMS) or Building Automation System (BAS).  The BAS offers a centralized platform or interface which allows you to modify the control settings, monitor the system status, and identify any possible issues associated to building system performance and take preventive measures.

Having a building automation system includes several benefits such as improved occupancy comfort, efficient operation of building systems, lowering of energy consumption, reduced operational costs, enhanced security, remote access, control and operation of building systems as well increased sustainable use of resources and equipment.

Building Automation System Integration for HVAC Controls System

Many large commercials including warehouses have central HVAC system in order to provide heating and cooling to the entire facility. They can also have multiple HVAC plants depending on building size and use. Building automation system allows integration of all these multiple systems on a unified interface, thereby providing better control, reducing inefficiencies, and lowering energy consumption.

How can warehouses benefit from Building Automation System?

The major areas where warehouse uses energy include lighting, temperature control such as humidity levels, refrigeration, heated casings and so on.  Regulation of accurate temperature is vital as different products and goods require varying storage conditions.

Then there are also seasonal warehouses that operate only during certain parts of the year. For example, agro-based warehouses are operational only during the season of its yield. However, the warehouse facility needs to be maintained throughout the year to ensure its functionality.  Introducing an efficient building automation system to your warehouse will give you better control on energy consumption as you can track and regulate building variables easily with integrated IoT solutions. IoT solutions can help you remotely access, regulate and operate building systems of your warehouse.

Building automation system helps you cut your warehouse energy costs by giving you valuable insights and data pertaining to your warehouse. Some of these are:

  • Are you heating your warehouse when it is not necessary?
  • Are you heating your warehouse in areas it is not needed?
  • Is your HVAC energy efficient?
  • Is your lighting energy efficient?
  • Are you lighting your warehouse when it is not required?

If your warehouse is still relying on traditional ways for its operation, chances are that you have no way of having all these data, all of which can translate into enhanced warehouse efficiency and reduced costs.

With building automation system you can have a better understanding of energy use in your warehouse,
identify opportunities when you can cut energy use and set benchmark on how much energy you want spent in your warehouse.

You might feel that with building automation system, you will be handing over control to automated system but think of it like a puppet with strings- the system is the puppet but you are the one pulling the strings as you have full control over the system right at your fingertips.

In addition, having automated building system for your warehouse does not only mean that you are improving efficiency of your warehouse but also increasing your productivity and ROI. For example building automation system and control uses intuitive technology that autocorrects if there is any error in the system, so if you require warehouse temperature at a certain degree to store goods, it will auto-set it and prevent damage to the goods which you may not even be aware of if you were the one overseeing these variables.

The integration of building automation system combined with data analytics, gives you easy access to a plethora of valuable insights into the working environment of your warehouse. You can easily find out heating and cooling temperatures, HVAC monitoring, indoor air quality monitoring, and lighting besides other functional aspect of your warehouse to ensure everything is in working order.

Another way building automation system enhances your warehouse productivity is by ensuring a safe workplace for your employees. Employees not only have boosted morale to work productively but also health risks with air quality monitoring and regulated temperatures are minimized. This in turn results in greater productivity and increased net profitability for your warehouse.

Running a warehouse is a massive task and you might be inclined to thinking that having an automation system is just a superfluous  addition which your business does not require, when in fact it could actually help you reduce unnecessary energy costs and grow your net profitability.

A-TECH Engineering Ltd. – a leading building automation system provider in Toronto as well as other major cities in Canada can provide custom building automation and control system tailored for your warehouse requirements, which will result in better performance, reduced costs and greater comfort of occupants. Contact our team today to find out how we can help your warehouse business become more sustainable.