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Demand for underfloor air conditioning systems, which are far more flexible and adaptable than ceiling-based systems, has risen as developers and landlords scramble to reconfigure office spaces in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Experts have predicted a 50% reduction in office occupancy, as millions embrace working from home. What is underfloor air conditioning? A zonal underfloor air conditioning system makes use of the raised floor void as a plenum for the distribution of air. Supply and return channels are created under the floor, and zone units serving areas of up to 300m2 are suitably located throughout the office space to generate conditioned air locally to serve the needs of the space. Underfloor air conditioning goes further than displacement systems, offering full function control of the indoor environment Individually controlled fan terminals of either recessed or floor standing configuration are let into the floor over supply plena. These terminals introduce air into the space above in accordance with the dictates of their own on-board temperature sensors and controls system. Users can adjust fan speed and set point temperature individually. Return air grilles are positioned in the floor over return plena. The whole system is controlled by means of the electronic management system controlling the operation of the zone units and the associated fan terminals permitting centralized monitoring and control. Underfloor systems are inherently compartmentalised and offer highly effective solutions in multi-tenant areas and other environmentally challenging applications. Many low-height refurbished spaces suffer from high levels of user complaint due mainly to draft from ceiling mounted outlets positioned too close to the user. The changing work environment At AET Flexible Space, we have seen increased demand, both from existing clients looking to reconfigure their office space, and new clients looking for a flexible air conditioning which can help to future-proof their office. A huge benefit of an underfloor air conditioning system is that they are inherently flexible, and can be changed to suit new room layouts within minutes. Our unique Fantile™ units are installed to sit in-line with the finished floor, and can be easily repositioned at any time without the need for the significant, and costly, building works usually involved in repositioning ceiling-based ductwork. A huge benefit of an underfloor air conditioning system is that they are inherently flexible We are already seeing that COVID-19 has accelerated the trend towards more flexible, future-proofed, and sustainable office space. We have been seeing an increase in demand for our underfloor systems for some time, but the coronavirus lockdown has certainly made more people consider the end-users of this office space, and how they can be best served Workplace wellness is also an increasing concern, and may be a key element for encouraging workers back into the office. The Workplace Wellness Study conducted by Future Workforce found that workplace environment is more important to employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity than most organizations realize. 67% of employees said they are more productive in workplaces that promote a healthy environment. One-third said they lose at least an hour of productivity each day due to office environments that don’t support their daily health. Beyond the inherent flexibility of underfloor air conditioning systems, they also offer high levels of energy efficiency, sustainability, and air quality. As there is no ductwork with an underfloor system, individual zones operate at very low-pressure encouraging energy efficiency. AET’s systems have helped attract LEED and BREEAM and other Green Building points, and can provide up to 30% savings in energy costs and a 29% reduction in C02 emissions when compared to ceiling systems. Cost savings Cost savings are also a key concern for everyone in the post-COVID world, and the flexibility and economy of an underfloor system across the lifetime of a building is increasingly attractive. The British Council for Offices (BCO) indicates that underfloor air conditioning can offer dramatic savings in overall cost, but it requires a co-ordinated team approach to achieve the optimum result. The flexibility and economy of an underfloor system across the lifetime of a building is increasingly attractive In the past the only way to reduce ceiling-based HVAC costs has been to reduce the specification and downsize plant, or reduce flexibility by increasing the size of terminal outlets and reducing numbers. However, these solutions often result in increased complaints of end-users about draughts and noise, which necessitates a costly and environmentally unfriendly re-design. Ceiling-based systems also demand service and maintenance from within the work space, from the simple task of changing filters in fan-coils or cassettes, to more complicated reconfigurations of pipework and ducts to suit a new layout below. Not only do these refits mean significant hidden cost, but they also cause disruption, and have a high risk of damage from condensate leakage. Construction Considerations In order to maximize the benefits of underfloor air conditioning, it must be introduced into the overall design philosophy at an early stage. When incorporated into the overall building design, savings can be made to curtain wall costs, all other height-related savings such as elevator shafts, columns, stairwells, riser shafts, and vertical services such as mains pipe-work and electrical risers. The Swedish National Pension Fund has reported overall cost savings of between 5% and 7% in buildings using underfloor air conditioning. In order to maximize the benefits of underfloor air conditioning, it must be introduced into the overall design Good quality underfloor air conditioning systems are similar in price to conventional good quality fan coil systems, but underfloor systems also reduce the cost of construction and offer tax advantages. The average office building costs in UK are in the region of £1000 to £2000 per square meter. Therefore, a 5% saving in overall cost could range from £50 to £100 per square meter. The average cost of any AC system is in the region of £120 to £200 per square meter, and so an overall saving in construction equates to something in the region of 50% of the AC system. As we move forward into 2021 and beyond, commercial construction is going to require sustainable and cost-effective design. With so many benefits, it is clear why so many in the construction industry are now turning to underfloor air conditioning solutions.
For designers, installers and operators of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, energy efficiency is rightly the number one selection criteria. This applies particularly to fan motors. However, while EC fans - the popular solution that integrates a fan, motor and speed control – are regarded as something of a de-facto guarantee for efficiency, that is not always the case. When evaluating the efficiency of your fan, motor and speed control combination it is vital to consider the ‘wire to air’ efficiency. Therefore, the total effect of both electrical and mechanical performance must be taken into account. Some EC fans have the motor mounted inside the fan wheel which disrupts the air flow. The result is decreased aerodynamic efficiency, and that impacts the overall efficiency of the fan unit. In contrast, a fan ‘package’ that comprises a high efficiency motor operating in combination with a variable frequency drive (VFD) that matches the motor speed with the required load could offer superior overall efficiency. Part-load efficiency is crucial In most cases, EC fans are fitted with brushless DC motors, known also as permanent magnet (PM) motors. When operating at full speed they can offer efficiency better than the IE4 standard. That sounds good until you consider that their motor efficiency can drop rapidly at part loads. In fact, they might not even deliver IE3 efficiency at speeds below 60 percent. This part-load efficiency is crucial since the majority of HVAC installations operate at less than 80 percent speed for 99 percent of the time. A more cost-effective, and energy-efficient, alternative can be to reduce the dimensions of the mechanical components such as air handling units (AHUs), ducting and auxiliary equipment to match the most common operating conditions. This approach must make provision to over-speed the fan motors to handle the 1 percent peak requirement, accepting that for this brief period there will be slightly lower efficiency and increased audible noise. EC fans cannot be over-speeded. Yet with VFDs it could, for example, be possible to over-speed a motor by up to 15 percent of its nominal speed. ABB EC Titanium™ motors are a highly efficient integrated motor drive solution for HVAC applications Power factor makes an important difference Harmonic currents are an additional energy efficiency consideration as they lower the total true power factor (PF) of the network by increasing the total line current. This extra current is not active current, but reactive current that results in higher system losses. Harmonics can result in added infrastructure costs due to the need to over-size equipment such as transformers, cables and fuses. Electricity bills might be increased while some utilities also impose penalties on their commercial customers with a low power factor. When evaluating the efficiency of your fan, motor and speed control combination it is vital to consider the ‘wire to air’ efficiency A traditional EC motor might have a power factor of around 0.78, drawing some 25 to 40 percent more current from the network than its actual load. That is why many EC fan systems require the installation of costly, centralized harmonic mitigation equipment. Instead, a fan package approach enables the use of a state-of-the-art VFD with active front end (AFE) technology that eliminates harmonics at source. The benefit is a power factor of 1, so that the motor draws only the current it actually needs. What happens when motors need replacing? There is also a sustainability issue regarding the ease of servicing and replacement of the fan motors. Should an EC fan fail it is not serviceable and the complete unit will need replacing, with implications for both costs and the lead time to get a suitable replacement. With a separate drive, motor and fan set up based on standard equipment, if the VFD fails it can be replaced the same day, with no need to go inside the AHU. If the motor fails it can also be replaced the same day.
Recognizing the critical need for reliable temperature-controlled airfreight solutions for safe transportation of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, Thermo King, and Envirotainer have announced that they are ready to meet the increasing shipping needs of the healthcare and aviation industries. Thermo King, a brand of Trane Technologies is a global provider of intelligent end-to-end active temperature-controlled transport and storage solutions, across the entire cold chain. Envirotainer is one of the global market leaders in active cold chain solutions for air transport of pharmaceuticals. heating and cooling air cargo In 2005, Envirotainer together with Thermo King, developed and produced the first active, heating and cooling air cargo container validated by aviation authorities. This set a new standard in transporting pharmaceutical and other temperature-sensitive products by air. “When a vaccine is ready, the challenge for the pharmaceutical market will be getting it to the patient as fast as possible by maintaining the integrity of the cold chain,” said Francesco Incalza, President Thermo King EMEA. “Our intelligent solutions can help address logistics complexities by maintaining temperature control and tracking the integrity of vaccine shipments at all points along the journey, including during air transport. We are ready to meet the needs for the mass global distribution of the expected temperature-sensitive vaccine.” controlled room temperature Our long lasting partnership with Thermo King has led us to setting new standards in the industry" “Once vaccines become available, we know they will require temperature-controlled air freight and a global distribution in very large quantities,” said Michael Berg, CEO at Envirotainer. “Our long lasting partnership with Thermo King has led us to setting new standards in the industry. We have by far the largest container fleet and network in the industry, and we are ready to support fast and secure delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the people that need them, wherever they are in the world.” The active containers were designed for the exacting requirements of the pharmaceutical industry. The one pallet RKN e1 container, using Thermo King Air 100 refrigeration system, and larger RAP e2 container, using Thermo King Air 200 refrigeration system, maintain product temperatures in the +2 to +8 Celsius range, controlled room temperature (+15 to +25 Celsius) range or at any chosen set temperature between ±0 and +25 Celsius in nearly any ambient condition. air cargo container Unlike passive containers, the active solutions operate on batteries in-flight, and on the ground, through an electrical connection that maintains the air-cargo container’s inside temperature while charging the batteries. Since their inception, the Envirotainer active containers have performed hundreds of thousands of real life pharmaceutical shipments. The RAP e2 is the most environmentally friendly temperature-controlled air cargo container available in the market. Delivering pharmaceuticals using the RAP e2 emits 0.9kg CO2e per vial shipped. This can be compared to, for example, a smaller passive solution’s 11.6kg CO2e per vial shipped. Both RKN e1 using Air 100 refrigeration unit and RAP e2 using Air 200 refrigeration unit are fully certified by both European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), and are qualified as Good Distribution Practice (“GDP”) compliant for pharmaceutical transport and storage.
Trane China has recently launched a new suite of Air Cleaning System that applies advanced technology to reduce containments including particulates, gases and viruses, in indoor environments. The system comprehensively improve indoor air quality (IAQ) and building environmental safety under the new normal with the COVID-19 epidemic, and meet people’s added requirements for a safe, healthy and comfortable indoor environment. As healthcare, business, education and other industries are in orderly operation under the new normal of the pandemic in China, the government and all walks of life focus on how to improve IAQ, especially in public places. Due to the impact of COVID-19, people’s requirements for a safe and comfortable indoor environment have risen to an unprecedented height, which also makes the demand for high quality air conditioning and ventilation system in buildings become a new normal. Anti-virus capabilities “To prevent and control the spread of COVID-19, the State Council, the Architectural Society of China and other industry associations have issued policies, regulations and guidelines for the safe operation of air conditioning and ventilation systems in various public buildings to improve the health of the building environment,” said Steve Yan, president of Trane China. “As a global leader in HVAC, Trane has a long history of innovation. To tackle the challenges in the pandemic, we quickly developed and launched a new suite of Air Cleaning solutions with strong anti-virus capabilities that protects and improves IAQ while safeguarding public health and promoting the restoration of social and economic vitality.” Improve Indoor Air Quality by Advanced Technologies With their oxidation and iconicity, these bactericidal ionic groups can rapidly decompose chemically harmful gases Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI), High Voltage Electrostatic Filter and Anion technologies, which can be applied together or independently, to improve IAQ and protect indoor environment by providing external connection and plug-in options. This innovative solution can not only quickly and easily reduce the risk of transmission of pathogens, but also effectively degrade toxic, harmful gases and odors in the air, and filter out PM2.5 particles to achieve more effective air cleaning results. Photocatalytic oxidation (PCO), through a process called photo-catalysis, uses the ultraviolet radiation to illuminate the photocatalytic material and combine the water and oxygen in the air for photocatalytic reaction, rapidly producing the high concentration of bactericidal ionic group. With their oxidation and iconicity, these bactericidal ionic groups can rapidly decompose chemically harmful gases and odors, settle suspended particulate matter, kill microbial pollutants such as viruses, bacteria and molds, and convert harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to simpler chemicals, such as carbon dioxide and water. High Voltage Electrostatic Filter UVGI has a dual purpose: its primary function is an energy source for the catalytic reactions of the PCO process, while it also provides a germicidal effect on micro-organisms by using ultraviolet light in the “C” band (UVC) to damage the DNA or RNA and inactivate a wide range of micro-organisms, including fungi, bacteria and viruses commonly found in buildings. High Voltage Electrostatic Filter technology intercepts and filters out the large dust particles in the air, and then kills the suspended bacteria and other microorganisms through the powerful electric field force energy released by the high voltage electric charge instantly, making them lose their bioactivity, so as to achieve the purpose of disinfection and sterilization. Trane Air Cleaning System Our solutions will help reduce the transmission and spread of airborne diseases, such as the influenza" Anion technology can make particles with a size as small as 0.01 micron invisible to the naked eye as well as floating dust and odor molecules sink to the ground, and effectively destroy the molecular protein structure of bacteria and viruses so as to produce an antibacterial effect. Anion technology can also effectively reduce allergens and provide cleaner air. “Our unique Trane Air Cleaning System combines four technologies: High-voltage Electrostatic Filter, PCO, UVGI and Anion technologies. They can effectively remove pathogens and particles in the air,” said Bruce Gu, vice president of Engineering and Technology, Trane Technologies, Asia Pacific. “Our solutions will help reduce the transmission and spread of airborne diseases, such as the influenza, even in areas with high risks, such as medical institutions, providing more effective safety and health protection for indoor air environments in various buildings.” Low air resistance Through testing and certification by authoritative organizations, the Trane Air Cleaning System is shown to effectively ensure a healthy and safe indoor environment. The POC product can kill up to 99.9% of staphylococcus albus, and remove up to 99% of A virus like H1N1. The high voltage electrostatic filter product can achieve a purification efficiency of up to 99.3% for micro-organisms, and an effective filtration efficiency of over 99.9% for PM2.5 particles. The solution has been successfully applied in various market segments and received positive feedback Meanwhile, there is no significant increase in ozone during the process. Furthermore, the solution is characterized by low air resistance and almost no additional energy consumption on the air-conditioning system, which better support the sustainable development and operation of building owners and operators. Safeguard Public Health and Safety As a trusted partner of developers and building operators around the world, Trane has received more than 3,000 inquiries from 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and has signed more than 230 orders with customers from a variety of industries. The solution has been successfully applied in various market segments and received positive feedback from customers in different industries. What’s more, Trane Technologies recently established a “The Center for Healthy & Efficient Spaces”, taking advantage of its internal and external expertise, together with innovative technologies from external experts and partners, to help customers cope with indoor environmental challenges during and after the COVID-19 outbreak, and jointly create a new normal of more sustainable development. IAQ and air-conditioning system In order to provide patients with a safer and more comfortable medical environment, and to prevent the secondary contamination of medical equipment and the invasion of other germs and viruses, the air-conditioning system in the medical industry should not only control the appropriate temperature, but also ensure absolute compliance with air quality standards. A well-known hospital in Nanjing and an elderly care facility in Suzhou of Jiangsu Province have recently applied Trane’s newly launched solution to meet the high standards and strict requirements for IAQ and air-conditioning system. People at educational facilities, which are six times as crowded as commercial and retail venues, are accordingly more exposed to the risk of contracting airborne diseases. In order to protect the health of students with efficiency and safety, a stable, reliable and efficient sterilizing air cleaning system is particularly important for schools. A middle school in Ningbo of Zhejiang Province is stepping up the construction of its comprehensive gymnasium, which uses Trane’s central air-conditioning system together with the Air Cleaning solutions, to create a healthier, safer and more comfortable environment for students, and provide parents with greater peace of mind for their children’s safety at school. HVAC duct system The health and safety of indoor air is also particularly important for exhibition halls In addition, in early October, Trane Technologies, in partnership with Synexis, launched a more innovative technology in indoor environmental quality, which is incorporated into Trane's comprehensive portfolio of products and services for K-12 schools, aiming to further improve IAQ in school buildings. The technology, which can be integrated into the HVAC duct system or applied as a stand-alone to individual rooms or spaces, uses dry hydrogen peroxide (DHP) to reduce pathogens in the air and on surfaces. Duct-mounted systems The health and safety of indoor air is also particularly important for exhibition halls. An exhibition center in Nanjing also applied the Trane Air Cleaning System for the first time during the construction of the third phase of its venue, to create a safer, healthier and more comfortable environment for visitors and exhibitors. Trane is driving the industry to ensure a safe and comfortable indoor environment under challenging circumstances via proper air handling, filtration, ventilation and purification. Moreover, the Trane Air Cleaning System is versatile, catering to multiple applications, such as fittings to a new building, field retrofit into existing Trane (and other brands of) air handlers and duct-mounted systems.
Trane Thailand, manufacturer and distributor of Trane air conditioning, parts and solutions, has launched innovative technology solutions for the “Now Normal Indoor Air Quality” to help hotels and shopping malls improve the health, safety and efficiency of their indoor air environments. Trane air cleaning systems use PCO + UVGI – Photocatalytic Oxidation and Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation to improve indoor air quality in buildings, such as hotels, shopping malls and office towers. Hotels have been among the first sector to apply the technology as they recover from a pandemic-driven downturn. The tourism sector is one of Thailand’s economic engines, accounting for 18 percent of GDP in 2019. Arrival of tourists from abroad during the first six months of 2020 dipped by 66 percent. Due to the spread of the virus and travel restrictions, tourists are more cautious about traveling and staying at hotels. PCO+UVGI Industry research indicates that HVAC technologies can mitigate the risk of exposure to infectious aerosols “We are the first in our industry in Thailand to launch a new suite of solution that applies advanced technology in commercial air conditioning systems to reduce contamination of pathogens. Industry research indicates that HVAC technologies can mitigate the risk of exposure to infectious aerosols in built environments, though the transmission and mitigation of COVID-19 in buildings is yet to be tested and confirmed.” “ Trane’s unique solution uses a combination of technologies called PCO+UVGI, which can control and reduce contaminants in the air, including particles, gases and viruses,” according to Mr. Phanlop Techasuwan, Managing Director of Trane Thailand. Volatile organic compounds Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) applies a process called photo-catalysis, which uses ultraviolet radiation creating powerful oxidizing agents to oxidize many biological contaminants to break them down. In this process, those harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are converted to simpler chemicals, such as carbon dioxide and water. Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) has a dual purpose: its primary function is an energy source for the catalytic reactions of the PCO process, while it also provides a germicidal effect on microorganisms by using ultraviolet light in the “C” band (UVC) to damage the DNA or RNA and inactivate a wide range of microorganisms, including fungi, bacteria and viruses commonly found in buildings. High Voltage Electrostatic Filter This unique technology can be installed in larger airside systems or in smaller air conditioning equipment as plug-in units to facilitate retrofits in buildings of different sizes and purposes, without any change in the air conditioning systems. As tested, the solutions are effective in delivering an improved air environment with more than 99 percent effectiveness in removal of both H1N1 virus and microbial contaminants (e.g. Staphylococcus albus bacteria). Besides PCO+UVGI, Trane’s suite of technological innovations in response to COVID-19 pandemic also include High Voltage Electrostatic Filter, Trane Catalytic Air Cleaning System (TCACS), Dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS). Trane also will soon launch new fan coil units designed for the Hotel segment. Trane Technology Helps Hotel Guests Feel Safer Our guests include families with little children and seniors who may particularly feel concerned about health" Mrs. Chanpen Chantanavaranon, Deputy General Manager of Pattaya Park Beach Resort Hotel, says that the COVID-19 pandemic creates concern for her hotel’s guests. To prevent contamination and increase safety, the hotel complies with safety regulations and guidelines and implements safety measures like temperature screening for guests, and masks and gloves for all staff. To further prevent contamination, the hotel recognizes the air conditioning system as one of the key elements for property and environmental management. The hotel is applying the advanced PCO+UVGI technology from Trane Thailand to reduce air contamination risks for two floors of the revolving restaurant tower, each of which can accommodate about 250 - 300 customers per floor. Reduce virus contamination “We are the first hotel in Thailand that is using Photocatalytic Oxidation and Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (PCO+UVGI). Our guests include families with little children and seniors who may particularly feel concerned about health. We look for new technology or innovation to apply at hotel to build confidence among guests as well as other customers.” “Trane’s latest innovative air cleaning systems with advanced technology that can reduce virus contamination will help increase safety in indoor air environment and build guest confidence incredibly to help us cope with the current situation,” Mrs. Chanpen says.