Artificial Intelligence to control and improve Ventilation Systems

A lot of energy is consumed by buildings. In fact, the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit energy efficiency advocacy group, says buildings account for about 40% of all U.S. energy consumption and a similar proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. Some estimates suggest about 45% of the energy used in commercial buildings is consumed by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, of which, as much as 30% is often wasted.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is able to provide a satisfied thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality for occupants by adjusting and changing the air condition of occupied buildings. To reach this goal, the required processes include heating, cooling and ventilation, as well as humidification and dehumidification processes. These processes can be accomplished through components that include a compressor, fan, condenser, evaporator, and expansion valve. For the proper operation of these processes and components, the suitable sensors to detect the status of the environment, coolant and components are quite necessary. The general sensors employed by HVAC systems include temperature, humidity, pressure, wind velocity anemometers, as well as a flow meter.

Controlling HVAC Systems: A Technical Challenge

Controlling an HVAC system properly is challenging due to the constant change in building conditions. Take into consideration the following:

Outdoor Temperatures constantly change, affecting the heating or cooling required to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

Building are constantly being entered and exited, which affects ventilation requirements and temperature regulation.

Indoor activities also affect HVAC requirements. For instance, a commercial kitchen requires more ventilation and cooling than a similar-sized office.

A building’s ventilation, heating and cooling requirements are constantly changing. Only a intelligent controls system can process all of this data in real time and automatically adjust the HVAC system. Due to the fluctuating operating conditions, an HVAC system with manual controls cannot achieve peak performance.

Smart Controls for Ventilation Systems

For optimizing ventilation systems, considering the outdoor airflow for determining the optimal variables is a must. Air Handlers consume less energy than space heaters and air conditioners. However, the outdoor airflow determines the heating and cooling needs of a building. Ventilation system coupled with AI can determine the optimal airflow for maintaining a suitable environment of the building. AI can also keep a track of number of occupants and also the air pollutants concentration. It is highly recommended that the ventilation systems should never reduce the airflow below the required minimum value as suggested by the local building codes.

Optimizing Space Heating and Air Conditioning

According to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), peak human productivity is reached when the indoor temperature is around 22 degree Celsius. The study also observed that as the temperature increases or decreases, it caused discomfort and lowered the productivity. Extreme temperatures are highly unlikely even with deficient HVAC systems.

Building furnaces, boilers, chillers and other HVAC equipment are now available with in-built AI. Thus, major energy savings can be expected just by upgrading the old equipment.

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