Sensing occupancy and comfort aren’t the only requirements for a better HVAC system. What’s important is how their provided data is utilized. Find out about a technology utilizing big data that can learn from the past and accurately predict future needs, revealing new opportunities to save.
Comfort and occupancy sensors can provide the foundational data to a truly comprehensive HVAC solution. It’s crucial to be able to record real-time, raw information about the number of people in a room and the quality of their experience. Alone, this data isn’t going to solve problems, what matters is how this information is used.
“The result is a conference room that is conditioned to the right temperature before every meeting, and left unconditioned when unoccupied, a highly efficient process.”
The magic happens when the data is integrated into the system of control. Machine learning algorithms use this data to make decisions about how the HVAC system should operate. Resulting operations are made with the goals of improving energy efficiency and maximizing human comfort.
Informed, Decisive, and Automatic
When big data meets machine learning, the result is huge, untapped savings. These algorithms can analyze recorded data over time to identify repeating patterns of usage. After identifying these patterns, the system can make informed predictions about future HVAC actions. As an example, if a conference room in a large building is only used once a week, the sensors will feed this data into the system where algorithms will identify that this action is most likely to occur in the future. Nobody likes to enter a hot room only to sit and wait for it to cool down. The result is a conference room that is conditioned to the right temperature before every meeting, and left unconditioned when unoccupied, a highly efficient process. The system isn’t just reacting to changing conditions, but it also learns from habitual behavior to better prepare future action, making it significantly more smooth and efficient.
A critical component of a complete HVAC solution is that occupants be surveyed about their experience with the HVAC in order to improve user comfort. One of the most convenient ways to do this is with an application. With this digital format, data about the user experience could be fed into the system of control so that the HVAC system functions around making people more comfortable. In this way, the application acts as a sensor of how people feel.
The potential of this complete solution doesn’t just apply to making accurate predictions about room occupancy, but with surveying, it can also predict future comfort preferences. Knowing that a certain group of people prefers the room slightly cold and knowing they have a consistent meeting time in that room allows the technology to perfectly condition the room to their personalized temperature every time they meet. Imagine, after voting your comfort level with an app, every week you have your meeting, the room’s air will be to your liking. Every time you meet. The ability to keep track of your preferences over time further makes the HVAC system effective and efficient.
The Future of HVAC Involves (Big) Data
It’s important that the data that forms the basis of the system is utilized to maximize the goals of user comfort and energy savings. Although HVAC accounted for 42% of energy consumed by large commercial buildings in the US in 2010, it is still crucial that in pursuing efficiency, it maintains its primary purpose of keeping people comfortable inside buildings. A big data/machine learning solution, with a predictive control framework is capable of delivering the goods, whatever the customer’s preferences may be, whether they are more concerned with increasing user comfort, or saving as much energy as possible. In the coming years, HVAC will deliver a better indoor experience at a far lower cost.