How you can gain energy efficiency in your building
‘Going green’ is a concept that has been around for years. This can mean anything from sourcing cleaner energy, to better construction and deep retrofits, to putting lights on a dimmer switch to reduce energy consumption. There are a lot of topics available on how you can make your building more efficient – as a starting point, we recommend A Roadmap for Retrofits in Canada and Build Smart: Canada’s Buildings Strategy. Although both Canada-focused documents, these tools and suggestions can be applied worldwide.
Finding efficiency gains in existing buildings is ioAirFlow’s focus. By making small improvements to behaviours and mechanics, while relying on a holistic technology platform that automates many building functions, we can help buildings go green more easily.
Here are some of the steps your building can take, with the assistance of a good green building technology platform:
Reduce human error
Even with the best intentions, people don’t always make the greenest choices. Leaving the lights on after leaving a meeting, not shutting off their computer overnight, or running space heaters at their desks because the office is always cold – these are small habits, but they add up when it comes to a building’s energy consumption.
Automating a system will increase its efficiency, simply by taking the possibility for human error out of the equation. Set the lights to turn off automatically when there’s no motion in a boardroom, schedule power bars to shut down after regular office hours, or give greater HVAC comfort control to your tenants. Over time, you will start to see these changes benefit your building’s bottom line – and your tenants’ satisfaction.
Change building setpoints
Some buildings may have a controllable thermostat set to a timer, to reduce incoming airflow during non-use hours. This is a great start, but most thermostats are limited to a very basic schedule, and lack intelligence – they might not be able to distinguish between a weekday and weekend, for example. That means your building’s HVAC energy usage relies on manually changing the thermostat setpoint (which has its own problems – see the ‘human error’ section above).
By moving to a software-based platform, a building is better able to control its scheduling system. This includes having different setpoints based on your tenants’ working hours, automatically changing the setpoint for holidays and weekends, and automatically reducing airflow in unoccupied spaces.
These setpoints can also sync with a building’s office calendar. If you book a meeting in a boardroom, the room will know your desired temperature state and adjust itself automatically – so when you walk into the room, you will feel perfectly comfortable.
Building on the ability to change temperature setpoints, predictive automation can use technology to optimize your building’s energy consumption. This means using pattern recognition and rudimentary artificial intelligence to not only understand when a variable needs to change, but can automate the process completely over time.
To better explain this, here’s an example: imagine a boardroom in a regular office building. The boardroom only gets used on Mondays, from 11:00-12:00. To save energy, the temperature in that boardroom is lowered when not in use – but will have to be raised again for the weekly meeting. Over time, predictive automation can learn from the schedule of use in the boardroom and automatically increase the temperature just before the 11:00 meeting, to optimize comfort control. The system will also learn the meeting always ends at noon, and will start to revert to energy-saving mode before the meeting is done. By the time the boardroom empties out, the room temperature will revert back.
Predictive automation can be used for even more, such as controlling mechanical blinds and windows based on where the sun is in the sky, or automatically dimming the lights based on the amount of natural sunlight in a room. Taken together, these changes can have a real impact on your building’s carbon footprint.
Use data to educate
Sometimes, all it takes to change a bad habit is to show the pattern of behaviour and find a better way forward. Energy consumption is no different, and accessing the right data will help expose those bad habits, and propose more effective solutions.
ioAirFlow’s system collects data to use in system monitoring and benchmarking, including measuring energy consumption over time at a granular level. With that data, you can find new solutions to reduce bad consumption habits. You can also identify areas or construction zones that require more intensive work – for example, by tracking heat loss around external walls, you could identify where a wall might need to be re-insulated, or where HVAC ducting may be loose and leaking airflow.
Going green isn’t just good for the environment – it’s good for your bottom line, helps prolong the lifespan of your building infrastructure, and is in increasingly higher demand from A-list tenants. Making your building more energy efficient is an excellent business plan.
Want to find out how ioAirFlow can help your building go green? Contact us today.