HVAC Thermostat

Thermostats May Soon Be A Thing Of The Past

HVAC Thermostat

One of the most exciting jobs of what we do involves keeping a careful eye on what comes next. Science and technology are offering creative new ways to improve energy efficiency, and preparing now for what’s next is the best way to stay ahead of the curve, even in mundane controls like thermostats. 

With more of us spending time indoors than ever, HVAC is emerging as a crucial way to save energy and improve what we do with the power we already use. Not only are experts studying how air conditioning and heating airflow could be spreading the coronavirus, but we’re also learning that these systems offer a tremendous opportunity to do more for us without our having to even think of it. 

Lighting systems have offering automatic zone controls for years; by using movement to monitor the use of a room or space, they adjust lighting levels or turn on and off without any manual input. Those are critical systems in all sorts of applications, including warehouses, schools, and hospitals. Now, researchers at the University of Michigan are working to bring the same idea to HVAC. Called HEAT (Human Embodied Autonomous Thermostat), it could change the way we stay comfortable year-round. 

The idea focuses on using thermal cameras to scan the faces of anyone in a given space. The system automatically adjusts the room temperature to keep the occupant comfortable. If there’s more than one person in the room, the system calculates the most efficient temperature to keep the majority of the occupants comfortable. It’s essentially personalized automated climate control that can also adapt as quickly when people leave a room. 

Right now, that’s more important than ever. While we may be home more than ever, many office buildings and other facilities are seeing seismic shifts in use. Staggered or reduced workforces, more employees working from home, and a new need to use larger spaces to gather, rather than cramped offices. That means buildings need to cool or heat more precise spaces and change their energy use once workers leave. 

What’s even more exciting is that this process only gets more efficient with time. The system learns individual preferences and changes in body temperature throughout the day, meaning it will be able to anticipate needs more accurately over time. 

Finally, the information gathered by the system can connect to the Internet of Things, which could help influence how other facility structures operate, including lighting and even machinery by adjusting energy use based on occupancy. 

While the technology is still new, it’s already available for licensing, and it’s something you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more about soon. 

Interested in what else we’re watching? Let us know with an email!

HVAC Summer Checklist: Fired Up To Cool Down

Temperatures hit the 90s here in our neck of the woods for the first time recently, but we’ve been fielding calls across the country from businesses flicking on the AC and….nothing. 

Whether your HVAC system is working perfectly or on the fritz, the transition from spring to summer is one of the toughest times of the year for many facilities struggling to tackle huge temperature swings and high humidity. The best way to keep things cool is to schedule regular, professional maintenance with Keen. Of course, there are plenty of small things you can do, too, to make sure every season is a breeze. 

Filters – Every system relies on clean filters to run efficiently, and they’re one of the easiest things to overlook. We think of new filters as crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s; even if you upgrade everything else, you aren’t making the most of your investment without taking care of the details. Check each filter and replace worn or dirty filters wherever you can. 

Check The Lid – We’ve driven hours to warehouses before to help address underperforming or broken HVAC systems, only to learn that the facility had started their air conditioning without removing air conditioning unit covers. Remove any and all covers, and if you rely on other airflow equipment, take the time to inspect those to ensure they’re clear of any dirt, sticks, branches, or other debris that might affect air intake. 

Upgrade Your Thermostat – Investing in a smarter control system can pay for itself, especially in changeable climates with hot summers, cold winters, and big changes in humidity. By getting smarter, more adaptive and intelligent systems, you can set your HVAC to adjust to weather automatically, measure changes in energy use, and help you make small changes that can save a lot of money. Many modern systems even offer notifications on maintenance needs, software updates, and automated alerts based on your personal settings. 

We can help prepare your site for all four seasons to save money and keep your team comfortable, healthy, and productive!

HVAC

HVAC Efficiency For Health

HVAC

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been inundated with calls from businesses looking for ways to offer their employees clean, safe air. Fall, winter, and spring put indoor air quality under the microscope, and there are a lot of issues to consider beyond the current health crisis. From efficiency to allergies, investing in high-efficiency indoor HVAC is always smart. 

Improve efficiency, lower energy costs, up your productivity, and take care of your workforce? It’s not a magic bullet, it’s your air. With a whole world of authors and experts exposing a new gospel on how to do more in less time, and do it for less, something as simple and important as air quality is too often overlooked. It’s not as flashy as a new desk or a remodeled conference room, but clean air can make a world of difference. 

Lower Repair Costs. It should come as no surprise that a new system will lower your monthly, quarterly, and annual repair costs. With new fixtures, smart tools, and regular maintenance, you’ll breathe a lot easier at night when the weather changes or puts more strain on your HVAC system. Spend more time thinking about where you’ll invest the money you saved! 

Lower Operating Costs. Here’s even more cash to tuck below the bottom line. Energy efficiency has improved in leaps and bounds in just the past few years. While just how much you can save depends on a lot of factors, we offer energy audits that will help us identify how much you can save with an upgraded HVAC system, plus opportunities to reduce other operating expenses like indoor and outdoor lighting. 

Improved Air Flow and Comfort. How is it possible that one employee is cold and another is boiling hot just a few feet away? It’s probably not your people; it’s your airflow. Upgrade systems distribute hot and cool air evenly and efficiently, which means you can all step away from the thermostat and leave the space heaters at home. Not only will it save you money, but it’ll also keep your team focus on their work, not trying to get feeling back into their fingers. 

Better Health For Your Team. A lot of our calls have focused on COVID-19 concerns over the past few weeks, but there are more factors that make HVAC vital in keeping your employees health. New efficient forced air systems offer updated filtration systems that offer clean air with fewer particles to breathe in. While the current health scare is worth looking at, ask any allergy sufferer just how important clean air is to their mood, energy level, work attendance, and general productivity. 

Lower Carbon Footprint. HVAC upgrades contribute to the bigger picture, too. Modern high-efficiency systems save you money and save the planet by lowering carbon emissions. For many companies, investing in a green initiative has been integral in focusing on sustainability and being accountable to their communities. This is one piece of a larger puzzle that can add up to a big difference. 

Want to learn more? Contact Keen today to talk HVAC, energy, and your first consultation.

No Access To Banks Hurts Marijuana Companies. It Also Hurts The Environment.

The number of states with new cannabis regulations on the books is nearing twenty. States like Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan have seen tens of millions of dollars worth of sales in a single week. But the financial institutions are still wary. That hesitation doesn’t just hurt this growing industry; it also hurts the environment. 

Last month, Michigan began selling legal cannabis products for the very first time. In just six weeks, retail sales surpassed $10 million and generated $1.7 million in new tax revenue. All of that success came from businesses that relied on personal or small-scale venture rounds to handle the substantial investments that go into a successful grow facility. From the ground up, many of these firms have had no access to the financial support that nearly any other business would rely on to get started. 

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and banks rely on federal rules, licensing, and regulations to operate. At the end of the day, most banks won’t touch cannabis companies for fear of breaking federal law. In some cities and states, smaller credit unions and banks have very quietly financed cannabis operations. However, that liquid capital stream has been almost entirely out of reach for marijuana firms. That’s put a massive brake on growth, but it has bigger consequences, too. It’s also hurting the environment. 

As we’ve discussed many times, marijuana growers face immense energy demands. Its lighting and HVAC demands are a massive strain on the grid, and that electrical need is expected to nearly triple by 2023. When companies cut corners and rely on outdated technology or press lamps designed for recreational use into industrial-scale applications, they don’t just waste their own money. They’re also wasting staggering amounts of electricity, and that added strain hurts both the grid and the planet. 

Looking ahead, we see banking protections as one of the most important pieces of legislation in Michigan and in any of the twenty states with legal marijuana laws. There is traction on that front. The SAFE Banking Act passed the US House of Representatives way back in September of 2019, though with some reservations. Critics of the bill maintain often confuse the banking regulation with marijuana regulation more broadly, a misinterpretation that has slowed acceptance of the Act in the Senate which, as you may have noticed, has had other pressing issues pushed to the center of its attention. 

We’ve seen first hand just how important cannabis’ reliance on energy is now, and with growth in the industry projected to skyrocket, what businesses have in place right now will dictate not just which companies will survive, but if our aging grid system will continue to be able to handle the load of growers and the general public successfully. By allowing banks to safely loan necessary funds to these firms, state and federal governments will benefit even more from tax revenue and let market forces work, without putting the environment at risk.

Start Smart, Grow Smart: Investing In Your Cannabis Facility

What’s the most expensive and wasteful investment to make? One you have to make twice. For marijuana growers, starting their sustainability and energy efficiency efforts the right way from the start is a key component to being competitive in an ever-tightening industry. 

The basic laws of supply and demand have played out in textbook fashion in the still young legal marijuana business. As more states enact legislation to legalize cannabis, supply us skyrocketed, causing prices to drop. And drop. And drop. The well-cushioned margins of Day One were nice, but enjoyed only by those firms already up and running. Today, many of those companies are feeling the pinch, and it’s not just from outside competition. These companies’ biggest battle comes from inside their facilities, where inefficient lighting and HVAC systems have kept production costs high and prices have slipped. 

Those firms are quickly implementing new, more efficient systems to battle the problems arising from lower prices. In an industry that sees so many factors and influences outside of their control, like legislation, banking restrictions, and limited licensing opportunities, production costs are often the one area firms can address head-on. 

As the old guard upgrade, newer producers have learned those same lessons and taken them to heart. Growers in the past 12-18 months quickly realized that the only smart way to address margin concerns over the long run is by making smart investments in fixtures and equipment right now. There are many lessons to learn for utilities, too. For instance, 4% of Denver’s energy demand comes from marijuana growers. With demand expected to more than double by 2023, both consumers and producers need to implement new ideas, new sources, and new standards to handle the load. 

We’re working with growers to make their facilities as energy efficient as possible, plugging in innovative techniques to make the most out of heat byproducts, recycle humidity, and make each light fixture do more with less. Technology learns and adapts, empowering business owners to take data in real-time and make better decisions in their energy usage and get the most out of each crop. 

Ready to grow? Let’s get after it!

Illinois Sets The Standard For Cannabis Regulations

Cannabis is an industry that’s only just beginning. Earlier this month, the state of Illinois put standards in place that will shape the cannabis industry for the Midwest and the rest of the country for decades to come. 

We’re living in extraordinary times. Cannabis is changing the country from medicine to production, with industrial giants and small-time growers all searching for some sense of direction. With states across the country passing legislation to allow legal adult use, the regulations have been relatively inconsistent. 

Illinois is one of those states. With their marijuana law taking action On January 1, 2020, they’ve passed some of the tightest cannabis production legislation in the country, detailed regulations in energy consumption, water, and other aspects of production that demands a high level of efficiency from Day One. 

There’s a lot at stake for the industry, and for the most part, cannabis growers are excited to take charge of their expansive energy footprint. A five thousand foot growing facility uses 66% more energy than the average US household. To offset that demand, Illinois is joining Massachusetts in passing strict energy regulations. These include:

  • A cap of 36 Watts per per square foot
  • Mandatory installation of automatic watering and irrigation systems
  • Mandatory use of DesignLights Consortium approved lighting fixtures
  • Limit water runoff to less than 20%
  • Specific high-efficiency HVAC equipment

The scale of Illinois’ cannabis industry is large and is expected to grow each year. Right now, they have 20 indoor facilities licensed for production, with a further 100 smaller producers with licenses to grow in facilities up to 5,000 square feet. 

One of the most important parts of the legislation is that the law requires producers to explain in detail exactly how each grower will meet the standards of the law. It’s a process that demands an intimate knowledge of the complex systems in place, and a field we feel uniquely situated to support businesses tackle. With these regulations regarded as the new standard, we expect to see similar laws passed across the country, and we’re ready to support businesses everywhere. 

Whether you’re looking to get started, upgrade your facility to meet regulations, or need help presenting your current HVAC to inspectors, we can help!