When you look back now at some of the predictions scientists and authors of the early 20th century were making about the time we’re living in now, it’s really pretty amazing. Not just because some of those predictions were so far off it was funny, (why isn’t there a robot maid and a flying car in every American home at this point?), but even more because of how incredibly accurate some of them turned out to be.
For example, as early as the 1950s, futurists recognized that computers were going to have a huge impact on the world, but there was no way they could have known just how wide ranging that impact would be. Still, many predictions that seemed like science fiction at the time have actually arrived. Consider: mobile phones, the Internet of Things, live video conferencing, machine learning and artificial intelligence. All of these technologies are almost taken for granted today, but they were seemingly magical concepts back in the ’50s.
One category of striking predictions from the ’50s postulated how thoroughly computer technology would be integrated into the systems and appliances running our homes and commercial buildings. And, while most existing homes and buildings still don’t incorporate all of the automated and computer-controlled elements futurists assumed would be available, many of those incredible features already exist, and they’re becoming more common.
Automation, Big Data, AI and your building’s HVAC system
A perfect example of this technological evolution is in the HVAC system that heats, cools, and ventilates the average commercial building, even right here in Charlotte.
For most of its history, commercial HVAC consisted of essentially the same equipment (thermostats, heaters and air conditioners) that our homes used, but on a larger scale. Today, however, the technological trends affecting nearly every industry are changing commercial HVAC as well:
- There’s been an explosion in computing power and speed
- Electronic components are shrinking even as they become more powerful
- Sensor technology has become far more affordable
- More data is being collected, stored, and analyzed, than ever before
Tech that is more sophisticated and costs less
The result is that modern commercial HVAC systems have evolved into interconnected networks of sensors, hardware, and software that can be calibrated to offer maximum comfort and optimal energy efficiency under all operating conditions. What’s more, this level of sophistication no longer costs what it once did because the bulk of the power comes from the data and the software, not the more expensive hardware as it did in the past.
As a result, even average hardware (the boilers, fans, chillers, etc.) can be upgraded and improved through quick and simple software updates instead of demanding an expensive and time-consuming replacement or repair. So, the recommended lifespan of commercial HVAC equipment has effectively grown right along with all the other benefits of tech improvements.
Automation offers improved performance and convenience
Another powerful effect of these advancements is the diminishing role of human operators. They no longer need to spend hours manually calibrating and optimizing the HVAC system, since these recent advances in technology have allowed for more convenient — and more effective — smart building automation.
The increasingly automated and autonomous HVAC system now relies on embedded machine learning algorithms to continually review and analyze the incredible flood of data it collects to optimize the system in real time. BAS and DDC building automation systems improve energy efficiency, lowers operating costs, and boosts the mechanical state of the entire system.
Implementation is faster
Such technology can also make the training of new technicians and energy engineers faster and more effective because the software is not limited by the human operator’s experience, knowledge or skill level. As a new software upgrade goes live, the entire system immediately improves without needing to wait for humans to catch up.
In the case of modern commercial HVAC installations, the seeming science fiction of the past truly is the reality of today.
What does this really mean to Charlotte building owners and facility managers?
Of course, it’s fun to look back over the decades to see just how far technology has come. And, it’s amazing to consider where we might be in another 50 or 100 years. Maybe we’ll have those robot maids and flying cars after all!
But there’s a much more important reason to think about the impact of Big Data, AI, and evolving technologies:
If you’re responsible for a commercial facility — whether you’re the owner, facility manager, or a maintenance technician charged with caring for the building’s mechanical systems — you need to ask yourself: how much of this amazing technology is already incorporated into our building? How well are we taking advantage of technology’s incredible possibilities? And, what can Charlotte HVAC services professionals do to help me?
In nearly every commercial building, there’s room for improvement. For instance, experts believe that, at this point, human beings never even look at 90% of the data that’s constantly being collected. If your building has control sensors and analytics software, what’s happening to the data those sensors are collecting? You’d probably be surprised how inexpensive and easy it is to get more out of that data, or to finally equip your building to start collecting and analyzing it in the first place.
In short, now’s a great time to review the state of your commercial HVAC system and optimize it for performance and efficiency, using the power of Big Data, AI, and smart building automation technology. If you need any help making this happen, we’d be delighted to discuss it. Contact us at AirtTightFacilitech.