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The past year has been a time of tremendous transformation for many of us, including those who own, operate, or service commercial buildings. COVID-19 has changed occupant priorities and habits. Environmental and economic concerns are increasing the need for efficiency. Emerging technologies are redefining how buildings are designed and managed.
If you are looking for ways to create a safer, healthier, and more efficient future for your building, understanding the most important HVAC industry trends in 2021 can help you make smart choices.
HVAC systems are a critical part of shaping occupant experiences, have a significant impact on operational costs, and are a key area of potential waste in commercial buildings. As such, optimizing your HVAC system is a valuable way to address many of the most common short and long-term challenges that building owners, facility managers, and contractors face. Examining the latest HVAC industry trends may help you discover innovative solutions with meaningful return on investment.
At a time when many occupants are seeking more eco-friendly buildings and government efficiency standards are becoming more stringent, identifying new approaches for achieving energy efficiency and alleviating waste is critical.
Future-focused commercial buildings are increasingly turning to advanced analytics with machine learning (ML) capabilities that reveal high consumption concerns, operational issues, and waste often associated with HVAC systems. The best analytics platforms can:
Working with a master systems integrator (also known as MSIs) can help you get the most out of analytics. MSIs can provide custom solutions to meet the unique needs of your building and help you achieve your goals. This includes defining areas for potential automation and providing additional equipment efficiencies for connected systems, like lighting and power meters.
Sensors and IoT devices connected to HVAC systems are a growing driver for managing and regulating HVAC system performance quickly and proactively. When connected to a stable, secure network, these devices can enable automation-related benefits. As a result, building owners, managers, and contractors are increasingly seeking out seamless network connectivity and the right IP-enabled devices for a unified platform.
Advanced systems integration can involve connecting HVAC to other BMS systems like lighting and access control, as well as cloud-based applications. This greatly expands automation opportunities, such as making heating and cooling adjustments according to occupancy.
Network connectivity and systems integration is best achieved by using network-connected sensors and devices recommended by a system integrator and controls expert. After selecting the right partner, you can work with your facilities and IT staff to understand the needs for a fluid integration process, enabling full HVAC and systems integration that is easily maintained and operated.
Legacy commercial buildings often operate HVAC and other systems on proprietary frameworks. But as the need for security and interconnectivity grows, owners and managers are incorporating open protocols into core building design and retrofits.
Open protocol systems are key when expanding opportunities for improved equipment processing and prevent you from being limited to the product or service offerings of a specific vendor. A system based on open protocols can provide robust security through cloud-based endpoints while maintaining remote access capabilities.
Healthy, comfortable buildings have long been a priority for occupants. Now, it is taking on new importance.
HVAC is a critical driver in efforts to re-open workplaces during COVID-19. Over half of U.S. employees are anxious about the risk of contracting COVID-19 or other viruses in the workplace. Because most air-borne illness transmission happens indoors, this affects anyone going in and out of your commercial sites, and it’s critical to provide a quick resolution to toxic air contaminants, viruses, and unhealthy particulates.
The CDC recommends reviewing your HVAC system before resuming business operations due to the significant role it can play in the health and safety of building occupants. This is an ideal time to work with a controls and system integrator to evaluate your needs. By partnering with a skilled integrator, you can:
Taking meaningful steps to improve the safety and comfort of your building is invaluable for creating positive occupant experiences and can help you achieve goals like WELL certification.
Today’s HVAC industry trends will change the way buildings are designed and maintained for years to come, opening up new opportunities for improving performance, enhancing comfort, and realizing cost savings. Taking advantage of these opportunities, however, requires thoughtful planning and in-depth domain knowledge. A master systems integrator can create the best strategies and use the right technologies for your building, giving you smart solutions for your needs today and for years to come.
Jon Schoenfeld, PE is Buildings IOT's Director of Energy & Analytics. He's been developing advanced algorithms for building automation applications for more than a decade and he applies his tremendous building expertise as he oversees the team of building scientists creating the onPoint platform.