Put HVAC Control in Occupants’ Hands
HOW INDIVIDUAL TEMPERATURE CONTROL MIGHT SAVE YOU MONEY
tial investments. Space planning and
scheduling are popular features. Some
can even control humidification and
dehumidification, ventilation rates, window shading, lighting brightness, color
temperature and more.
■ The HVAC controls are generally linked
to an app or a desktop pop-up. This
strategy is convenient for users.
Not every facility needs every possible
control capability, so think hard about which
features you really need.
With individual HVAC controls, the priorities are often energy savings and occupant
comfort. Determine what your occupants
need to be comfortable and productive, then
use that to narrow down your options. That
Security. You don’t want anyone controlling the system who isn’t supposed to. For
facilities like healthcare centers, that’s extra
important because comfort aids in healing.
The new pavilion at University of
Pennsylvania Health System (Penn
Medicine), which uses EcoStruxure for
Healthcare, links patient records to the
building management system and uses the
patient’s birthday as a logon credential so
that strangers can’t make changes.
The system scales back temperature settings and air exchanges while the patient is
out of the room for testing and procedures,
then returns them to a comfortable level
when the patient returns.
Additional control needs. What other
types of control would benefit the people in
your building? Penn Medicine’s system lets
patients choose their shade control, humid-
ity, lighting brightness and color tempera-
ture, TV and more, and monitors noise levels.
Some products can even incorporate weather data and respond to outside conditions.
“Empowering patients increases Hospital
Consumer Assessment of Healthcare
Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores,
which means that the health system gets
more reimbursement from the federal government,” explains Warren Rosebraugh,
director and solution architect for Schneider
Electric, which produces EcoStruxure for
Healthcare. “It’s also eliminating nuisance
calls to the nurses or facilities teams.”
What the usage of the system can tell
you. The way your occupants use HVAC
controls can give you quite a bit of information about how the rest of the building is
functioning. Pair your HVAC controls with
an analytics package that can collect and
interpret data about user behaviors, recommends Logan Soya, founder and CEO of
“A personal control product gives you a
new data point that’s essentially an abil-
ity to collect survey data about occupant
comfort levels,” Soya says. “Normally, the
way a facilities manager gets that insight
is through a hot or cold call mechanism
where the tenant is complaining, so they’re
already dissatisfied by the time they submit
Linking it to your building management
system can also help you correlate the data
from the individual controls with other
related information, explains Philip Smyth,
director of product management, commer-
cial ducted systems, at Johnson Controls.
“My office has a cube farm and sometimes
it’s extremely cold. With a building automation system, you can look at that specific
space, confirm that what I’m talking about is
happening and then look at the other components in the system,” Smyth says.
Communication components. Controls
should be able to speak with each other and
with your building automation system. Mike
Monteith, CEO of Thought Wire, recommends
a system that uses standard protocols and
“The next layer is about the 3D world
of a building, including layouts, indoor
mapping, the positioning of controls and
naming of spaces, so that it’s easy to
understand the relationship between the
physical HVAC and the spaces people are
engaged in,” he notes.
Janelle Penny firstname.lastname@example.org
How Individual HVAC
is a senior writer for BUILDINGS.
How much control do the occupants of your building have over the tem- perature? It seems counterintuitive,
Individual HVAC control puts some of the
decision-making over heating and cooling
into the hands of each person in a space.
The execution depends on your HVAC system and the HVAC controls you invest in, but
most of the individual control products have
these characteristics in common:
■ They’re linked to a building automation
system that monitors use and
communicates between the controls
and the HVAC equipment.
■ There are still some boundaries about
what tenants can and can’t do with the
controls. For example, many products
let you choose temperature setpoints
that occupants can’t override just like
you would with a regular smart thermostat. Others operate for a short time,
then scale back to a more energy-efficient mode. For example, Comfy emits
10-minute bursts of heat or cooling in
response to occupant feedback, then
returns to its normal setting.
■ Many products can control more than
HVAC, so think about what other systems you’d like people to have more
individual control over and keep that
in mind when you’re comparing poten-