I sat down with Ross Fairbanks, our COO, to talk about LIGHTFAIR 2019 and what we experienced from the event as a company. We’ve both been to 10+ years of LIGHTFAIRs over time so it’s always interesting to compare them, year to year. For 2019, we brought several members of our lighting team and caught up with multiple partners and customers at the event. Ross and I both agreed, the relationship-building element of the show was definitely a highlight this year. Here are some of our other takeaways.
The ability to control and automate building systems, including HVAC, is an obvious gain for a facility manager. HVAC systems form a critical component of any facility’s purpose and are responsible for several key functions, several of which are especially important for pharmaceutical facilities. Because HVAC enables production, pharmaceutical or otherwise, careful design and maintenance are of utmost importance. A big part of this includes the controls system.
Higher ed facilities are an ideal candidate for LED lighting and controls projects. Campuses often have outdated facilities and institutions are committed to engaging in sustainable practices along with saving overhead costs wherever possible. A LED lighting and lighting controls project is one of the simplest ways for a higher ed facility to fulfill these commitments, start saving energy and lower their energy bills with assistance from qualified utility incentives that can significantly lower the out-of-pocket cost of a project. This was the case for a New England-based university who was interested in upgrading the lighting in their chemistry building.
Data centers are notorious for their inefficient use of energy. At the end of 2017, Forbes reported global data center electricity use to be about 416 terawatts (4.16x 1014 watts) or 3% of the total electricity consumed. This was 40% more than all of the United Kingdom and Forbes expected the consumption to double every four years. Yale’s Environment360 blog states that the world’s largest data centers emit nearly as much CO2 as the airline industry. These alarming figures have prompted the data center industry to take a hard look at energy consumption and facilities are taking action.
What’s both central to the HVAC system and a large consumer of energy costs for your facility? The Air Handling Unit (or AHU). Air Handling Units condition and circulate air in a building or facility as part of the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. AHUs work hard and constantly to maintain a comfortable building environment. If the building is to remain comfortable, the air handlers need to operate without issue. We frequently see AHUs that are 25-50+ years old, are still in service and don’t always run as well as they did at the beginning of their life.
If you’re managing a facility with standard HVAC/mechanical systems, you probably have some form of a Building Management System (BMS). Like how the iPhone changed communication with its launch in 2007, BMS have fundamentally changed how you communicate with your building’s equipment. Your BMS or Building Automation System (BAS) communicate to your equipment through either open or proprietary protocols.