Industry 4.0 Can Make Commercial HVAC Sustainable


Emily NewtonEditor-in-Chief at Revolutionized

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Conventional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems consume more energy than any other building appliance. So how are engineers using industry 4.0 to make these systems more sustainable?

Article 6 Minutes
Industry 4.0 Can Make Commercial HVAC Sustainable

Residential and commercial buildings rely on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to maintain comfortable indoor environments. People setting sustainability goals are looking for energy-efficient appliances to shrink their carbon footprints, and conventional HVAC consumes more energy than any other building appliance.

HVAC emission production begins inside manufacturing facilities and continues in the commercial buildings where they are installed. Engineers are using industry 4.0 to make these systems more sustainable.

HVAC systems’ sustainability limitations

Heating and cooling systems use the highest amount of energy in buildings. HVAC heating features consume nearly 27.3% of a building’s power and air conditioning uses an additional 11.8%. Most global energy comes from fossil fuels, which directly contribute to climate change.

Countries are developing sustainability regulations to improve global conservation efforts. Environmental engineers developed industrial 4.0 HVAC technology to support these goals.

Conventional HVAC systems rely on human intervention for efficiency-enhancing maintenance. When air filters are not changed regularly, they use significantly more energy. Some building owners also forget to turn their thermostats off when facilities are vacant, causing even more unnecessary emissions. Poor maintenance practices and programming features increase a building’s carbon footprint.

An HVAC system’s sustainability rating also depends on its energy source. Electric systems are eco-friendly because they are compatible with renewable power. Manufacturers are designing smart thermostats to support an electric commercial HVAC system.

How is Industry 4.0 impacting HVAC production?

Industry 4.0 technologies rely on the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimize their functions. IoT influences the sustainability of HVAC operations and production. The technology adds automated features, which increase these systems’ energy efficiency.

Smart thermostats connect to a commercial HVAC system and add advanced functions. The technology relies on sensors, which divide a building into various temperature zones. Sensors that detect physical activity in a zone turn the power on there. Similarly, the sensors turn systems off in vacant areas.

Another way industrial 4.0 thermostats increase HVAC sustainability is through remote monitoring. The equipment connects to a building owner’s smartphone, helping them access thermostat data and control functions from anywhere. Smart thermostats use the cloud to deliver information to cellphones.

Remote connections also alert building owners of maintenance requirements. A system’s efficiency decreases when damage goes undetected. Industrial 4.0 systems inform people when to change their HVAC air filters and alert building owners of any damage. Immediate attention to these problems can prevent large-scale destruction and improve a system’s lifespan. 

Smart HVAC systems’ sustainability

Industrial 4.0 HVAC systems are significantly more sustainable than conventional devices. They use less energy by intentionally minimizing waste. Systems that are turned off in vacant zones cut electricity waste and costs.

They also use IoT to access real-time weather reports. Smart thermostats utilize the data to set the most efficient indoor temperatures. The system may turn off and allow outdoor air to regulate indoor temperatures on cool summer nights.

One company claims people can save 26% on heating and cooling costs. Smart HVAC also shrinks a system’s carbon footprint by minimizing its reliance on fossil fuels. Electric industrial 4.0 thermostats are more sustainable because of their renewable energy compatibility.

Solar-powered HVAC units

Building owners can connect their smart HVAC systems to solar power, further reducing carbon emissions. Some engineers are developing 100% solar-reliant systems to shrink the technology’s footprint.

Solar-powered HVAC units rely on direct current (DC), alternating current (AC) or hybrid technologies. The DC units use photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity on-site. Panels distribute the power directly to an HVAC unit.

AC units rely on an inverter to work with a building’s energy grid. The system recognizes production limitations and supplements fossil fuel energy with solar power. A hybrid commercial HVAC system uses a combination of DC power and grid-derived electricity.

PV panels generate electricity autonomously using sunlight. Solar radiation knocks electrons loose within them and creates a flow of electricity. PV panel power is more sustainable than fossil fuels because it produces zero emissions during energy production.

Companies that install solar HVAC systems can significantly shrink their carbon footprints and utility costs. PV panels provide the most cost-effective electricity supply on the market.

Benefits of sustainable HVAC systems

One of the key benefits of installing energy-efficient technology in buildings is minimizing human error. Peoples’ lack of HVAC knowledge can cause unnecessary emissions and energy waste. Industry 4.0 thermostats use machine learning to predict occupants’ temperature controls, enhancing their efficiency levels.

Another notable benefit is the technology’s energy analysis feature. Smart thermostats collect energy and emission data throughout a month and display the findings through a smartphone application. People can use the report to cut future energy costs and adjust HVAC systems’ programming.

Shrinking HVAC systems’ footprints with smart manufacturing

Professionals are using smart manufacturing techniques to create low-impact HVAC systems. Manufacturing facilities are enhancing production as the demand for smart thermostats increases. Facility operators use artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems to shrink HVAC production’s carbon footprint.

Facility designers can use an ecosystem of IoT technologies to optimize energy efficiency. Each system connects and responds to each other.

Some individuals place smart lighting systems in their manufacturing buildings to minimize energy waste. These lights use sensors as motion detectors. Natural light sensors also dim or turn off bulbs when sunlight provides sufficient illumination. Reducing energy waste from lighting systems is essential because lights use nearly 8% of a building’s electricity supply.

Manufacturing buildings can also utilize smart water systems, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and smart thermostats to shrink carbon footprints. Companies that produce devices with less energy shrink the technology’s general carbon footprint. Reducing production emissions is an essential part of corporate responsibility.

Supporting corporate responsibility

Countries are developing sustainability regulations aligning with the United Nations’ Paris Agreement. Environmentalists recognized the effects of personal versus corporate impacts on climate change. Companies have large-scale ecological impacts, and nations target their pollution to meet conservation goals.

Practicing corporate responsibility using industry 4.0 technologies also helps companies meet eco-consumer demands. Many Generation Z and millennial consumers value sustainability and solely purchase low-impact goods and services. Companies that manufacture products using energy-efficient systems can increase their sales. They can also avoid fines by adopting responsible technologies and get a leg up on competitors by preparing ahead of time.

Sustainable HVAC systems

Going green is more than just a buzzword. It’s becoming a way of life. Industry 4.0 is helping HVAC systems become more sustainable, from production to implementation, which will help impact the environment and save companies money.

Emily Newton

Emily is a tech and industrial journalist with over four years of experience writing articles for the industrial sector. She’s Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online publication exploring innovations in manufacturing, technology and science. 


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