One of the buzzwords with all building systems today is controls, especially
with HVAC. Heating and cooling equipment
are easy targets to reduce energy spend
and improve workplace productivity, and
comprehensive controls optimize these
operations. What do you need to do to get
the most out of your HVAC system?
1) CONSIDER YOUR BUILDING
Although your HVAC system addresses
interior comfort, it is important to consider
how it will work with the exterior elements
of your facility. Identify how you can use
your HVAC controls while also considering
how the envelope can affect the interior of
For example, windows are an important
component of thermal comfort in facilities.
If you have a lot of daylighting and little to
prevent solar heat gain, it might be time
to find a solution that can work in unison
with your HVAC system. Whether that’s
electrochromic windows or automated
shading solutions, having them operate
under shared controls can help you optimize energy efficiency by simply mitigating
2) INTEGRATE WITH OTHER
It isn’t enough to run controls with your
HVAC system alone; that's a wasted opportunity for wholesale improvements to building
efficiency. Buildings today need to operate as
one cohesive ecosystem for peak efficiency,
and advanced controls are a simple way to
link your building systems together.
Lighting is one of the best systems to
integrate controls with HVAC because both
systems operate largely based on occupancy. Linking lights, HVAC, occupancy
sensors and controls together will allow
you to essentially multi-task by using one
main dataset as a means to control multiple building systems.
While HVAC and lighting provide a good
starting point for this coordination among
building systems, you can be creative and
innovate ways to optimize building perfor-
mance. Working closely with consultants
and engineers can open up unique avenues
for efficiency through shared controls.
3) FIND A KNOWLEDGEABLE
The most important part of implementing a strong controls system for HVAC is
to enlist the help of someone that has the
right expertise. It seems simple, but a lack
of education and awareness about the
potential for modern controls sets buildings back from reaching their potential in
terms of efficiency and comfort.
Even if your contractor or integrator
have undergone training to implement
these new systems and controls, it is
important that they have had opportunities
to demonstrate these skills first. Despite
the resolute nature of some of these programs often developed by the manufacturers themselves, some important integration
components get lost in translation from the
highly controlled training apparatuses to
your actual facility.
Finding out how the experts you consult with have put their expertise to use is
a great way to identify whether they are
right for your building. Ask about their past
projects and what they can do for yours.
Finally, doing some homework yourself
can help you identify what you might want
for your building. Taking notes on applications you find and seeing how you might
be able to leverage them in your facility
will get you closer to the optimal HVAC
practices for your building.
3 Tips to Integrate
Better HVAC Controls
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER WHEN IT COMES TO
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF CONTROLS
FIND CREATIVE WAYS to integrate HVAC
controls and other systems. Lighting and
HVAC work well together because both
are often based on occupancy.
NEW DEVELOPMENTS LET GLASS TINT
AUTOMATICALLY WHILE HARVESTING ENERGY
SCIENTIST LANCE WHEELER (FRONT)
developed a switchable photovoltaic
window with, from left, Nathan Neale,
Robert Tenent, Jeffrey Blackburn, Elisa
Miller and David Moore.
Smart windows that darken in response to too much sun are already gaining
ground commercially, but a new discovery
could add even more value.
Scientists at the DOE’s National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
have developed a thermochromic window that not only darkens automatically
in response to sun, but also generates
electricity during the darkening process.
Methylamine molecules are driven out of
the device in response to solar heat, which
darkens the window. When the sun is no
longer shining and the device cools back
down, the molecules are reabsorbed and
the window appears transparent.
The untinted window allows in an average of 68% of light in the visible portion
of the solar spectrum, while the tinted
version only allows about 3% through.
The window changed color completely in
around 3 minutes during testing.
“There is a fundamental tradeoff
between a good window and a good solar
cell,” explains Lance Wheeler, a scientist at
NREL. “This technology bypasses that. We
have a good solar cell when there’s lots
of sunshine and we have a good window
when there’s not.”
The window achieved a solar power con-
version efficiency of 11.3%. Ongoing research
will focus on improving performance stabil-
ity with the aim of eventually integrating it
into buildings, vehicles and electronics.