By Udi Meirav, Founder and CEO, enVerid Systems Inc.
It’s no secret that human activity and energy usage have contributed substantially to climate change by adding pollutants to the environment. Most climate scientists agree this is linked to the current global warming trend and expansion of the “greenhouse effect” – warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.
What may be even more surprising is that the building sector alone is behind the consumption of nearly half (47.6%) of all energy in the U.S., therefore contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. By helping to transform the building environment to be more energy-efficient and climate-friendly, this sector can actually play an important role in making our world healthier and reduce the threat of climate change around the world.
Here are some options to consider that not only will boost building energy efficiency for a healthier world, but also reduce costs now and in the long term.
Implementing New HVAC Technologies
Using today’s HVAC systems, most commercial buildings maintain indoor air quality by replacing all of the indoor air with outside air as often as every one to two hours. This practice represents 30 to 50 percent of the HVAC capacity in most buildings, thereby increasing the cost of the equipment and overall energy consumption.
Further, outside air is not always clean air, especially for buildings located near highly-trafficked roads or in busy urban centers. Bringing in outdoor air to these buildings introduces additional harmful contaminants that that are known to cause cardiovascular disease. Contractors should consider the implementation of proven technologies, like HVAC Load Reduction® (HLR®) modules, that maintain indoor air quality by cleaning it, and can thereby decrease the amount of outside air needed. Reducing the volume of outside air translates into a significant reduction in required HVAC capacity and equipment costs, plus reduces ongoing operating expenses, and boosts energy efficiency.
Tapping the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t just the latest buzzword in the industry – it is allowing for new opportunities for better and more efficient buildings. There are now solutions that enable smarter management and monitoring of buildings, along with detailed reporting of building performance and efficiencies.
For example, some new HVAC technologies enable 24/7 monitoring of indoor air quality, which is critical to the satisfaction, health, and productivity of building occupants. Not only are building owners and managers now asking for these types of capabilities – they’re starting to expect them. Try to find a solution that makes the air quality data available on the Cloud so the good air quality readings are visible. Not only does this act as a big differentiator when compared to other buildings, these real-time insights into air quality and comfort allow for more proactive management of buildings to help reduce energy costs.
Prioritizing Sustainability and Air Quality
Prioritizing sustainability and green building efforts are no longer a question in today’s commercial building landscape. Sustainability these days means not only finding new building solutions that will boost energy efficiency, but also those that provide healthy indoor air quality, which has been directly linked to occupant productivity. In fact, a study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that improved indoor air quality through reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in buildings can help boost cognitive performance by 101 percent and that this translates into $6,500 per year in additional productivity per employee. Consider some of the recent technology demonstrations endorsed by the Department of Energy (DoE) that focus on products that combine better indoor air quality with energy efficiency.
In looking to new solutions for commercial buildings, not only can we help keep more money in our pockets – we can affect energy consumption across the board to ultimately help reduce climate change and improve our current environmental roadmap.
About the Author
Dr. Udi Meirav is CEO and founder of Boston-based enVerid Systems Inc., a leader in energy savings and indoor air quality solutions for commercial, educational and government buildings.To learn more, please visit www.enVerid.com.