HVAC equipment is increasingly becoming the focus of more attention in part because engineers and business owners continue to search for more efficient ways to install and monitor HVAC systems in commercial buildings.The issue is not relegated to just the commercial sector alone, however, as total commercial HVAC costs make up more than 20 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption, according to new research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, ACHRNews reported.
Because commercial buildings require large amounts of electricity to power, national energy goals are impacted by this high level of consumption, which affects overall energy pricing for those outside the commercial sector as well. A research group from Wisconsin is aiming to streamline the collection of energy data to better maintain costs and consumption of energy.
The problem is that the capabilities to undertake such a large task on a wide scale have been lacking in the past, for which the group is trying to change. By using analytics and data controls, researchers posit that companies can better realize their energy goals by having all the information businesses need regarding failing HVAC equipment. Once these problem areas are identified and tracked on a real-time basis, future issues of degradation and corrosion can be avoided, thus making HVAC units last longer and utility bills to decline.
By creating a complete industry standard, all businesses can undertake similar efforts and implement their own strategies to reduce operation costs and environmental impacts, making their companies more efficient.
Without a common procedure or recognized protocol in place, companies can lose time and money trying to remedy HVAC problems. However, technology is now catching up to the demands for energy efficiency, said Jim Rawlings, leader of the Wisconsin research group, according to ACHRNews.
"In the chemical industry, optimization has been a much more important part in the operation of chemical plants, because that's your profitability, that's the goal of the business," said Rawlings. "So, what the HVAC industry is able to do now is take advantage of all that development over the last 20 or 30 years in the chemical industry and bring it over to buildings."
By organizing efforts across companies with multiple buildings, and then further over entire industries and economic sectors, HVAC systems can be made living, innovative machines that not only help maintain temperature and air quality levels, but also contribute to sustainability and company growth.
The possibilities are plentiful for the HVAC industry, as both new and existing businesses rely upon high performing HVAC units for everyday operation. Having the technical knowledge backed with the data to know when to replace HVAC equipment is the key driver of new innovations, for which the Wisconsin researchers hope to bring to light.
"You know the building is running and you can look it how it ran a year ago, two years ago, 10 years ago, and you can detect things like equipment that is degrading, and you can find out what the use patterns are," said Rawlings. "You find out that over time, energy use in the building is rising or dropping, and you can start to ask what-if questions."
Improved HVAC performance
The end result of such an effort comes down to more advanced HVAC equipment that works efficiently and at a high rate. The potential for new applications, devices and HVAC parts to impact future HVAC performance is immense, especially since the total HVAC industry will be worth more than $50 billion by 2021, according to Researchandmarkets.
As the demand for HVAC equipment increases, the value of the materials will rise as well, since HVAC equipment of the future will be much better at withstanding harsh elements and improving energy efficiency.
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