What will it take to meet Government ambitions for new buildings?
The government's plans for the construction sector are ambitious. Earlier this year Theresa May announced that her government aims to bring about a 50% reduction in energy use of new buildings by 2030, saying that, “By halving the energy use of new buildings – both commercial and residential – we could reduce the energy bills for their occupants by as much as 50 per cent.”
The Prime Minister sees this as a positive move for the construction sector, asserting that meeting this challenge would drive innovation and higher standards.
I would argue that the building services sector has been focused on significant environmental improvement for decades, and has already made enormous strides. Equipment manufacturers in our sector typically design and manufacture for a global market with international networks of research and development teams, and existing investment in design and testing running into millions of pounds. We could argue that commercial imperatives drive innovation and ever higher standards across the building services industry, irrespective of government policy papers. But, as one of the Government’s four Grand Challenge Missions for industry, this is a high profile target. It's big talk, and it's a big challenge, so how is our industry going to deliver?
A key factor in Armstrong’s opinion is the optimisation of equipment performance after installation. A landmark study by the US Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that, following a programme of regular re-commissioning, buildings typically save 25-30% per year in HVAC costs. Our own monitoring of equipment post-installation supports these findings. Real-time building management needs to be readily available to all, however, rather than an added luxury. We believe we are already ahead of this curve. Our contribution to industry-wide improvement of equipment performance is the introduction of our Pump Manager service. It is a cloud-based application which leverages the embedded intelligence and connectivity available through Armstrong Design Envelope pumps to make active performance management available on all models as standard. The aim of Pump Manager is to offer continuous optimisation for maximum efficiency. Online trending and analysis across multiple parameters on single pumps, or on an aggregated basis for multiple pumps, assist in identifying performance degradation and allow a predictive and proactive approach to users. Pump Manager provides real-time insights and alerts to users, reporting issues such as excessive vibration, broken coupling or a dead head. Additional conditions such as impeller imbalance, bearing failure, seal failures and shaft misalignment are all soon to be added to that list. Pump manager provides a fully reactive and integrated vision of an individual building, able to integrate with BMS, EMS and CMMS, as well as offering API-APP integration.
The growing use of BIM, off-site manufacturing and AI self-tuning points towards a future of not just smart HVAC solutions, but smart buildings and smart cities. With more and more data being collected, fully integrated real-time building management will be a key to meeting these ambitious energy reduction targets.
By Steve Rees, Sales Director, Armstrong Fluid Technology
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