2017 HVAC Industry Trends: How heating, cooling, and ventilation systems are evolving

The HVAC industry is becoming more focused on energy-efficiency

Industry leaders cite growth in energy-efficiency, performance and lower operational costs.

ASHRAE held a successful AHR Expo in Jan. 2017, with thousands of HVAC exhibitors and professionals. ASHRAE observed from the show that boosting HVAC energy-efficiency is a key focus this year. Many of the systems from this year’s expo were designed to: reduce operational and energy costs, improve building automation, and better meet the green building standard.

MSI Data provides cutting-edge field service software for HVAC companies throughout the U.S. We educate ourselves and our partners on the latest industry findings so we can better serve our clients. Below are the best practices in HVAC that industry professionals should know.

  1. New, eco-friendly HVAC & refrigeration drives efficiency.

    HVAC systems that use less energy function better mechanically and last longer than older models. Before the Jan 2017 AHR Expo 41% of exhibitors said they will displaying new, energy-efficient products.

    Example: The AHR Expo Awards featured a Daikin chiller which is known as the first 100% configurable brand in the industry. The model uses Variable-Volume-Ratio (VVR) technology to adjust internal compression as water and air temperatures change. The unit’s Variable Frequency Drives help adjust the motor to save even more energy.

    Even “green” systems must be inspected for damage sometimes. However, not all units need service on the same, fixed time frame. Luckily, IoT technology tracks product use. Once usage reaches a certain level, the sensors alert the user when it’s time for a maintenance check.

  2. Building automation requires more accurate control.

    Building automation systems have microprocessors that track and transfer environmental and data changes to controllers. Simply put, BAS adjusts lighting and indoor air quality to save building owners money on electric costs.

    The HVAC industry demands more powerful BAS solutions. Many systems today are built on BACnet, an internationally recognized protocol developed under the ASHRAE, ANSI and ISO 1684-5. Additionally, solutions for specific applications are in demand. For example, one BACnet built system at the AHR expo had a nonstop power supply that provides back-up power control needed to maintain critical HVACR equipment.

    In the HVAC industry, a “critical environment” is one in which power or ventilation loss causes serious health or safety risks. Non-critical environments need just mildly control sensors to track changes since not much is at stake. But systems made for high-risk areas need perfectly accurate sensors, and meet the building’s strict reporting criteria needed to track air and lighting changes in the building.

  3. Green building standard is evolving.

    As the need for construction jobs increases, so does the green building standard. Sustainable buildings are slowly becoming less costly to maintain. The SmartMarket 2016 World Green Building Trends report shows that green buildings cost 14% less to operate than traditional buildings. The demand for green building is expected to double every three years. LED lighting, variable refrigerant flow and solar power are just some solutions that take the industry by storm.

    The Carrier dual stage relief economizer was a “green building” winner at the AHR Expo. Made for light rooftops, this model uses two non-powered stages to relieve pressure during both normal operation and economizer free cooling. The system works without a powered exhaust or separate relief system, which greatly cuts installation and energy costs.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center in Pearl Harbor is another sustainable design, which won an award. This building’s passive cooling system pumps seawater to the rooftop and sends water-cooled air into the building without mechanical fans. The building’s chillers reject heat into the seawater, which saves more energy and operational costs than traditional towers.

  4. Big and small data matter.

    Software plays a big role today in HVAC design, data analysis, repair and maintenance. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors help track a unit’s condition, usage patterns and other data needed to improve product design. Emerson Climate Technologies predicts that by 2019, 75% of thermostats will be Wi-Fi enabled.

    Many HVAC companies focus on “big data” trends and patterns of their products. But HVAC software is useless without the small data which helps troubleshoot and improve product performance. Some companies may not have time to do data entry since small data accrues. Luckily, HVAC techs can enter inspection data into field service software app and gain instant feedback. This data is stored in a central system, which the office can access. Most field service apps are Cloud based and can be used by laptop, tablet and Smartphone.
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