How the HVAC Field is Changing

04/11/2019 | By Sarah Kloepple

The landscape of the HVAC field is changing. That’s a notion that was particularly apparent at the 2019 AHR Expo this past January in Atlanta, and it still resonates months later. Facilities managers still need to understand what exactly is changing—and how they can keep up to ensure their buildings and facilities are operating as efficiently and comfortably as possible.

We’ve compiled a brief list of the technology and events that highlights the ways in which the HVAC industry is evolving, and why you should take note. 

Automated Controls

As a facilities manager, knowing who’s in which rooms of your building and when is important. Automated controls in HVAC can gather that information (and more) to efficiently heat and cool those spaces. Sensors can follow the true activity happening in your building—not just follow a typical building operating schedule.

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For example, Delta Controls was a finalist at the 2019 AHR Expo in the building automation category for its O3 Sensor Hub. The sensor operates a bit like a voice-controlled speaker: It’s placed on the ceiling but can be activated by voice controls or Bluetooth-enabled devices. The 03 Sensor Hub can measure CO2 levels, temperature, light, blind controls, motion, humidity and more.

At the expo, Joseph Oberle, vice president of corporate development for Delta Controls, explained it  like this: “From a facility management perspective, we’re thinking about it more on the lines of, ‘I know who the users are in the room. I know what their preferences are for a meeting, when they need the projector on or like the temperature this range. They like the blinds open, they like the blinds closed.’ We can handle that through the sensor as well.”

Higher Efficiency

Efficiency standards are changing in order to create better energy conservation. The Department of Energy has laid out minimum efficiency requirements that continue to increase, and the HVAC industry is adjusting equipment accordingly. Expect to see more applications of variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology, a type of system that can heat and cool different zones, at varied volumes, on the same system.

[Related: Are Energy-Saving VRF Systems Worth the Money?]

Radiant Heating Outdoors

Another notable piece of technology we saw at AHR was a radiant heating system for the outdoors—essentially, a snow and ice melting system. This particular system from REHAU utilizes cross-linked pipes that circulate warmed fluid under outdoor surfaces. The system gathers data from moisture and temperature sensors.

In commercial settings, a facilities manager might be interested in the technology to improve safety and eliminate slips and falls. It could also eliminate the hassle of having to schedule snow removal, as well as avoid the costs of the service. Outdoors surfaces can also avoid the wear and tear of salting and chemical deicers.

Although HVAC is paramount for creating a comfortable indoor environment for your tenants, there are ways in which it can create a more comfortable outdoor environment as well.

Attracting the Younger Generation

Recruiting the next generation of engineers to pioneer new strategies for efficiency in HVAC is also top of mind in the industry. With a large number of Baby Boomers retiring soon, the HVAC industry is poised to lose more employees to retirement than are in the pipeline for recruitment.

With that in mind, Daikin Applied hosted an event at the conference that was exclusively for engineering and technical trade students to foster interest in HVAC professions. The students were given a presentation on the forces that are making the HVAC industry a dynamic place to work, and then given a tour of Daikin Applied’s booth and product portfolios.

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Susan Kaufman from Daikin Applied talks about their Next Generation Event they hosted at AHR Expo 2019. The event, created exclusively for engineering and technical trade students during the show, helps to foster interest in HVAC professions. Listen now >>

Adapting to Change

From new technology and standards to attracting the younger workforce, it’s evident the HVAC field is ripe with change. And to ensure your facility operates as efficiently as possible—for both a cleaner environment and more comfortable tenants—it’s important you adapt with it.

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