During the hot and humid summer months, greater energy consumption is required to cool the outside air coming into a building, resulting in higher costs.
In the majority of commercial buildings, indoor air is replaced with outside air every one to two hours to prevent high concentrations of indoor pollutants. However, while the process helps limit indoor pollutants, the high volume of outdoor air must be cooled to maintain comfortable temperatures and humidity inside the building during the summer months.
At the same time, extra outside air intake to maintain air quality can cause some areas of the building to get too cold, sparking an increase in complaints from occupants. This problem can be further exacerbated in buildings with higher occupant densities than they were originally designed for — such as with open-plan office buildings.
With summer just around the corner, here are some tips for facilities managers to consider when preparing their buildings to beat the heat:
1. Consider new HVAC technologies
Facilities managers are looking to new HVAC technology solutions that use less outside air to ventilate a building, thereby boosting energy efficiency — saving on costs — and maintaining air quality to keep occupants comfortable.
One solution cleans and recycles the indoor air instead of constantly replacing it with outside air — complying with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62.1 Indoor Air Quality Procedure (IAQP). In doing so, this technology decreases the outside air intake required to ventilate a building by 60 to 80 per cent. It also reduces peak HVAC capacity, resulting in 20 to 30 per cent energy savings and up to 40 per cent lower utility demand charges, particularly important during summer’s peak demand days when electricity costs can skyrocket.
Using less outside air extends the life of air filters, reduces water consumption, and will help postpone HVAC equipment replacement. Moreover, with this technology, buildings can invest in lower-capacity and less expensive HVAC systems, and benefit from decreased maintenance costs.
2. Tap the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is empowering facilities managers to take advantage of new opportunities for better and more efficient buildings. In fact, there are now solutions that allow for smarter management and monitoring of buildings, along with detailed reporting of building performance and efficiencies.
The new HVAC technology describe above, for example, enables increased visibility through IoT capabilities that provide 24/7 monitoring and management of a building’s indoor air quality, temperature, and humidity. These real-time insights into air quality and comfort allow for more proactive management of buildings to help reduce energy costs.
3. Prioritize indoor air quality
Providing healthy and comfortable indoor air for building occupants during the summer months is critical to not only reducing complaints, but also to ensuring the productivity and health of those occupants. In fact, a study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that improved indoor air quality in buildings can help boost cognitive performance by 101 per cent, which translates into $6,500 per year in additional productivity per employee.
In considering some of these tips ahead of the hot and humid summer months, facilities managers can save on energy costs and reduce complaints to keep their occupants comfortable and happy all summer long.
Dr. Udi Meirav is founder and CEO of Boston-based enVerid Systems Inc. Prior to founding enVerid, he served as CEO of Boston based Luminus Devices and also worked as an investor at Stata Venture Partners and Strategic Decision Group. Dr. Meirav has a PhD in Physics from MIT and began his career as a nano-physics research scientist.