• Intelligent Buildings
  • HVAC
  • Digital Transformation

Even at AHR, the Future Is Digital

Casey Talon
Jan 31, 2019

Smart Buildings

The annual AHR Expo is the largest heating and cooling industry event, gathering over 50,000 vendors, distributors, contractors, integrators, and other stakeholders. This year, the mammoth event showcased the full spectrum of products from the biggest players in commercial HVAC, but the highlight for me was the push to all things connected and software-enabledcritical to success in capital equipment investments and ongoing performance enhancements.

Measure Energy Savings to Achieve Climate and Sustainability Goals

Examples like Apple’s HQ in Silicon Valley or Hudson Yards in New York City grab headlines and showcase the promise of automation and sustainability for commercial real estate. The reality is that about two-thirds of the building stock that exists today will still exist in 2050. These facilities most often operate with inefficient, siloed systems and generate 40% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficient retrofits will be a cornerstone to tackling the climate change impact of the built environment, and digital tools can play a huge role in making the right investments. 

For example, Johnson Controls announced the launch of its open-source Lean Energy Analysis tool (LEAN) at AHR. This new digital approach to prioritizing retrofits will “help drive greater investment in energy efficiency by turning readily available, monthly building energy consumption data into specific, cost-effective recommendations for improvement,” according to Clay Nesler, vice president of global sustainability and regulatory affairs. Building owners can use modeling tools like LEAN to help define a long-term strategy for driving down carbon emissions that will also showcase a commitment to sustainability, which is an increasing competitive advantage and defining element of brand.

Capture the Attention of Next Generation Leaders

A generation of workers are leaving the facilities management industry and taking their institutional knowledge with them. The industry is also at an IT/OT convergence advance and those in facilities management grapple with shortcomings in skillsets. Intelligent building solutions can help tackle both challenges by standardizing and automating key FM processes and redefining the job description to appeal to the next generation of leaders. Daikin hosted a "Future of HVAC" event at AHR and summed up the opportunity: "Digital transformation, artificial intelligence, sustainability and globalization are forcing exponential change in our industry," said Bryan Plowman, vice president of human resources at Daikin Applied Americas. "On top of that, over a million boomers reach retirement age each year.” 

This year’s AHR demonstrated that digital transformation is now reaching the historically slow-moving facilities and HVAC world. There is a huge opportunity to use digital tools that will make HVAC investment, implementation, and management more efficient, sustainable, and economic.