A modern office block is covered with a dense web of sensors. The BAS/BMS systems (Building Automation Systems/ Building Management Systems) control all of the processes taking place inside the building – from ventilation and heating, to lighting, to water usage levels. The 24-hour monitoring provides a significant improvement to the comfort of use, but most of all, helps lower the exploitation costs. Because of the growing costs of energy sources, public utilities are increasingly more often realized to energy efficiency standards. The European Union directive (2010/31/UE) is of an importance, as from 2018 the public sector buildings and from 2020 other newly erected buildings have to be built nearly to the zero-energy standards. The control of all processes in the premises is essential for achieving the optimum energy balance. Especially, when a few hundred people stay inside the building every day.
Monitoring and controlling devices, gathering information about the outside conditions and the users' habits have become an integral part of a modern office building's equipment. Nearly every installation and system can be controlled – as well as the windows automatization. Mechatronic fittings are becoming more and more popular, which are also integrated with the sensors system and the building management system. The sensors are used in especially adapted windows – openable, front windows, with a hidden sash (the so called block windows) and roof skylights; they may also be windows made to energy efficiency or passive standards.
An electronic connection between the active elements of the facade while using mechatronic fittings allows for the optimisation of energy usage in terms of ventilation. In other words, automatic windows can function as an important element of the natural ventilation system for the building, with a minimal usage of energy supplies. The system can be programmed to ventilate the building at set times and to cool it at night – explains Dr Andrzej Polijaniuk, Marketing and Product Director at Schüco International Polska Sp. z o.o.
"Electronic" fittings are integrated with the ventilation system mentioned above and the central heating and lighting installation. The windows react therefore to a variety of factors. Mechatronic fittings of the windows can be connected to a whole range of sensors, monitored inside or on the outside of the building – explains Dr Andrzej Polijaniuk. The indoor sensors can register factors such as CO2 concentration, temperature, light intensity or fogging. Other sensors may be placed outside, including rain and wind sensors and even ones reacting to the sound of broken glass. That way we get an intelligent system that takes care of the comfort of staying within the building's rooms, which also functions as protection for people and property. In case of one of the factors arising, the signal from the sensor is processed into a command to ventilate a room, secure a window or to switch the alarm on – he continues. The system reacts after analyzing the available data. It means that the system is almost hands-off. How does it work in practice? During very strong gusts of wind the windows close. Ventilation takes place only when an air change is needed. However, if temperature in the room drops suddenly, the windows close again. The situation is similar in terms of natural light regulation in the room. The system can also manage outdoor blinds, and even the building's illumination, integrated with windows profiles. It then realizes additional tasks of providing shade in the rooms on hot days, and switches on building illumination in the evening – says Dr Andrzej Polijaniuk.
Also with a remote
Operating modern windows with mechatronic fittings can be done centrally or inwardly. In case of inward operation, we issue a "command" with a button on a door handle, wall, through a control panel or remotely, using all kinds of mobile devices, including any smartphone, tablet or a remote. It means that we can individually regulate the climate in the room without the need to go anywhere, for example from the work station. The mechanism reaction time is less than one second, immediately changing its position, influencing ventilation and air-conditioning parameters and changing the shading levels. The system can also be equipped with informational elements, like highlighted icons.
Not only at the office
What's interesting, modern automatic windows with mechatronic fittings are also used in private houses as well as clinics and hospitals. The possibility to operate it inwardly and individually allows for a convenient regulation of the window opening levels, which is very important in case of the user being a person in a wheelchair. Sliding doors and sliding panoramic glazed panels with electronic fittings have doorsteps that are low or completely levelled with the floor.
Mechatronic fittings of the windows allow for convenience while operating the equipment, improving the comfort of use and optimising energy usage. Even after we have left the building.