What Is The Right Strategy To Adopt Building Automation
1. Why Are Commercial Buildings At A High Risk For Viral Build-Up And Exposure?
People spend a large amount of their daily life in the confines of the commercial buildings where shared spaces and high interaction with shared surfaces increases the number of microbes on surfaces and in the air.
In other words, many of the high-touch areas in commercial buildings could be vectors for the spread of virus. And the more people that touch them, the higher the risk of contamination. Researchers found that places such as refrigerators, drawer handles, faucet handles, push-out exit doors and coffee pots tend to have the highest concentrations of germs.
While the above risk can be minimised by regular sanitisation and cleaning of all surfaces, the other risk is that of transmission via contaminated air. The circulated air of commercial buildings cancontribute to the spread of microbes. In indoor environments, microbial life is circulated through the air vents and within HVAC systems.
Maintenance of systems and filtration has an impact on how contaminants flow through the air, so buildings that have not been properly serviced to maintain appropriate circulation, filtration, humidity and temperatures can contribute to higher amounts of microorganisms moving through the systems. There is renewed emphasis on controlling indoor air quality and better ventilation and this could greatly reduce the chances of viral transmission in-doors.
Organisations like The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Society for Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) have released new guidelines for offices and recommend opening outdoor air (OA) dampers as high as 100 percent, keeping systems running longer hours, and disabling demand-control ventilation (DCV). ASHRAE also recommends a two-hour purge of indoor air before and after occupancy.
2. Why Is Energy Conservation A Concern In Closed Offices?
Even with minimal occupancy, studies have shown that the amount of energy consumed in a building does not lower by a huge degree. Facility managers need to keep the lights on, the air vents open and HVAC systems running, even if there is only 10% occupancy and these factors are what keeps energy bills high.
With a smart building system that can track and monitor occupancy, facility managers would be able to reduce energy consumption by automating switch on/off lights in empty floors and reduce the air flow to unoccupied areas. In the average commercial building, HVAC and lighting makes up about 50% of energy use. So, the potential of 30-50% energy savings from smart HVAC could translate to 25% of total energy use.
3. What Are The Services That New Clients Are Looking For These Days And Why?
Beyond a short Return on investment, plus ongoing energy savings, clients prefer smart building infrastructure as it improves quality of life for both owners and tenants by enhanced monitoring, measurement and control capabilities of equipment and indoor environments.
With building automation, facility managers can analyse and improve efficiency, pre-empt costly failure or service with pre-emptive monitoring, and maximize in-vestment of time and money across equipment and staff, freeing up people's time to focus on higher-value priorities. With the current scenario of most people working from home, the ability to remotely control, monitor and manage multiple facilities has become more of a necessity than a luxury. Many companies are looking to incorporate remote management to ensure that teams can work from the safety f homes while ensuring all systems are up and running.
Perhaps the greatest value realized (and least measured) for clients, is that of providing a welcoming, comfortable, healthy environment with temperatures, air quality and lighting to maximize occupant productivity and well-being. The true value of healthy buildings is just beginning to come to light with the advancing WELL Building standard and other human factor assessments.
Making the choice to be sustainable is now easier than ever. The organizations who implement smart systems will save a great deal of money in the process and prove to be leading corporate citizens.
While sustainable buildings were once considered luxuries, they will be a must-have and widely beneficial choice for any building owner. The quick payback (further accelerated by incentives) and the ongoing energy savings potential from smart HVAC and lighting systems are significant. When combined with the quality of intelligent building and business management, and healthy, productive occupants, smart sustainable buildings are the clear choice of the future.
4. What Are The New Guidelines That The Government Of India Has Adopted For The Operation And Control Of HVAC Systems To Reduce Disease Transmission From Infectious Airborne Particles And Ensure A Safe And Healthy Workplace?
Recent studies show the spread of COVID-19 appears to be occurring through airborne transmission of aerosols, particles 1-5 microns in size which cannot be reliably filtered out using a MERV-13 or HEPA filter. While much of the focus is on droplets 100-1000 microns in size produced by coughing or sneezing, a large quantity of aerosolized infectious particles is also produced, and are more likely to be produced by asymptomatic individuals or those who do not know they are infected simply from breathing or speaking. A recent study showed that more than 1000 of these virus-containing aerosols are emitted every minute of speaking, more proof that without dilution ventilation from outside air, buildings have ahigh risk of viral build-up and exposure.
In response to this, various organisations such as ISHRAE (Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers), ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers) and the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) have released new guidelines for the operation and control of HVAC systems to reduce disease transmission from infectious airborne particles and ensure a safe and healthy environment.
75F has announced "75F Epidemic Mode", a new HVAC software sequence that ensures commercial buildings are healthier while keeping employees and customers safe and achieves the directives through its specific application profiles:
1. 75F Smart Purge: This application profile works in pre-and post-occupancy settings and fully adheres to ISH-RAE, ASHRAE recommendations to prevent re-circulation of air and to purge the air before and after occupancy.
2. 75F Smart Enhanced Ventilation: This profile ensures the indoor environment remains as safe as possible during a building's occupied period and reduces risk of infection from aerosolized particle.
5. What Is The Science Behind These Guide-Lines?
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through drop-lets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Talking and breathing can also release droplets and particles.
Droplets generally fall to the ground or other surfaces in about 1 m (3 ft), while particles (aka aerosols), behave more like a gas and can travel through the air for longer distances, where they can transmit to people and also settle on surfaces. The virus can be picked up by hands that touch contaminated surfaces (called fomite transmission) or be re-entrained into the air when disturbed on surfaces.
SARS infected people over long distances in 2003, SARS-CoV-2 has been detected as an aerosol in hospitals, and there is evidence that at least some strains of it remain suspended and infectious for 3 hours, suggesting the possibility of aerosol transmission.
This suggests that people exposed to infectious particles in a closed environment like offices where air is recycled could be at considerable risk of exposure. The guidelines ensure that the air is constantly purged and ventilation rates are increased to ensure occupants are not breathing in infectious particles that could be circulated via the HVAC system.
6. How Can Workplaces Implement These With Their HVAC Controls And BMS?
To follow and implement these measures, it's important that all building automation systems:
- are operating properly and commissioned correctly
- are capable of monitoring all zones and spaces through-out the building for both temperature and humidity
- can keep temperatures in each zone or office above the recommended dew point temperature.
- are able to make these adjustments without incurring a significant energy cost
Smart BAS systems like 75F's Smart Building Intelligence System can ensure the above guidelines are integrated in new sequences and implement the most current strategies and minimize viral transmissions while maximizing energy efficiency and indoor air quality.
7. How Can Smart Building Technology Help Combat Covid 19 And Other Such Airborne Viruses?
By implementing the latest guidelines which ensure infectious particles are purged at regular intervals from the indoor environment, Smart BAS systems can ensure the chances of viral transmission within offices can be significantly reduced. Current recommendations for the commercial built environment include increasing outside air ventilation and flushing indoor air before and after occupancy hours. 75F Epidemic Mode achieves these directives through its specific application profiles, Smart Purge and Smart Enhanced Ventilation. Both profiles are ready to use out of the box no manual programming required.
Where implementing CDC and ASHRAEguidelines without help from a BAS may damage equipment, 75F's Epidemic Mode works to the extent possible for each individual piece of HVAC equipment based on its unique capacity and weather conditions.
This way, building owners can rest easy knowing their HVAC system is working within proper health guidelines without risk of equipment damage from running a system outside parameters.
8. What Are The Key Priorities Of Facility Managers?
Facility managers began searching for the right strategy to make indoor spaces safer in the event of a pandemic while saving energy under such extreme conditions. With building automation, facility managers can analyse and improve efficiency, pre-empt costly failure or service with pre-emptive monitoring, and maximize investment of time and money across equipment and staff, freeing up people's time to focus on higher-value priorities. The key priorities of facility managers are:
· RMM (Remote monitoring and management), the ability to coordinate repairs, minimize emergency truck rolls, and deliver smarter service and maintenance based upon insights.
· EMS (Energy Management System) that centrally controls devices, such as HVAC units and lighting systems across multiple locations, making them useful for those who oversee multiple spaces.
· Latest Guideline Implementation, IAQ and Ventilation Facility Managers are also on the lookout for building management systems that can implement the latest guidelines released by ASHRAE, ISHRAE without incurring a huge energy bill. Solutions for Indoor Air Quality are also in high demand.
9. What Are The Sectors Where Building Automation Demand Has Increased In The Last 6 Months?
Sectors where building automation demand has increased in the last 6 months are Retail, Hospitality, Pharma and Co-working Spaces.
10. What Are You Expecting For The Year 2021?
The pandemic has emphasised that IAQ and Remote Control and Monitoring are two features that are very necessary for healthy and energy efficient offices. We hope to see a continuation of business growth we have seen since July 2020 and also expect to be adding more clients to the new sectors we have begun to serve.
75F is also hoping to reach more places in the APAC region and add more new offices in India and South-East Asia.