Smart technologies are the most important innovations in the field of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) as the construction industry seeks to streamline operations and allow one control point to regulate systems.

The  use of smartphone apps allows building managers to control cooling, ventilation, and other processes from one control point as appliances achieve far greater interconnectivity through the Internet of Things (IoT).

Better measurement of building environments through the collection of real-time data and analytic information also allows for more efficient systems to be installed in the future, either in similar projects or if an existing building requires refurbishment. 

In addition, the growing complexity of more energy-efficient solutions is leading  operators to turn to mobile technologies, using smartphones or tablet PCs to set up preventative maintenance and service programmes.

The harsh temperatures experienced for much of the year throughout the Middle East mean that effieient HVAC solutions must be a priority. According to research by multi-disciplinary construction consultancy Ramboll, residential buildings account for approximately 47% of total annual final energy use in the GCC, compared to a global average of 27%. Furthermore, cooling is responsible for approximately 70% of the GCC’s electricity demand during peak summer months. 

“The efficiency of HVAC systems is not only important but critical when energy consumption is considered,” says principal mechanical engineer for building services at Ramboll, Milos Krsmanovic. “One solution is [greater] integration with smart technologies, especially smart home systems.”

He explains that current technology is only now catching up with ideas that were first tabled “in the last century”.

 “The idea of having breakthrough technologies that might have been patented decades ago, but for which feasible manufacturing methods have only become available in our age, is exciting,” Krsmanovic adds.

China-based supplier Midea agrees that smart controls in both residential and commercial systems is a major trend for the industry. Marketing manager Peck Zhao says: “The new models of air-conditioning systems offer equipment monitoring and control when away from home and office via smartphone apps. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean manufacturers are focussing on this trend and new developments are anticipated.”

He adds that the move towards increased efficiency in HVAC systems can be seen in solutions such as demand-controlled ventilation, direct digital control (DDC) systems, variable air volume (VAV) systems, and inverter-variable frequency drive (VFD) compressors. 

“Sensor technology has played a major role in recent advances in the safety performance of cars and is being included in air conditioners as well, to detect not only temperature and humidity, but also the presence of people, air cleanliness, and the layout of the room. Sensors take in huge amounts of information and analyse it to create more comfortable air conditioning,” he continues.