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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.
Johnson Controls, the pioneer for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, announces that its chairman and CEO George Oliver has been chosen by the Business Roundtable Chairman Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, to serve as chair of the organization’s Energy & Environment Committee. Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of American companies. Through research and advocacy, Business Roundtable supports policies to spur job creation, improve U.S. competitiveness and strengthen the economy. Economically sustainable future Its Energy & Environment Committee is dedicated to advancing policies that encourage innovation and support an environmentally and economically sustainable future. As the incoming Biden administration prepares to put clean energy at the heart of the U.S. economic recovery, such business-led initiatives will be key in helping the new administration meet its proposed goals. “I am honored to be selected as Chair of the Energy & Environment Committee and look forward to working with my fellow CEOs to support policies that preserve our environment and maximize our energy options,” said George Oliver, chairman and CEO. “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the planet today. Business Roundtable believes that businesses are an essential part of the solution and calls for collective action and policies to drive innovation, significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise.” Mitigating climate changes In December 2020 Johnson Controls received an A- climate change Leadership band score from CDP The next decade is crucial in the shift to a sustainable economy. With its team of 100,000 employees Johnson Controls is committed to playing a meaningful role in helping the transition to a safe, sustainable, low-carbon world. This new position for Oliver highlights that ongoing commitment. In December 2020 Johnson Controls received an A- climate change Leadership band score from CDP, in recognition of its actions to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change in the past reporting year as well as an A score for its risk disclosure and governance. Distinguished track record Sustainability is an integral part of Johnson Controls vision and values. Since signing the United Nations Global Compact in 2004, the company has remained fully committed to aligning its operations and strategies with the U.N. Global Compact’s Ten Principles. Under Oliver’s leadership, Johnson Controls continues to have a distinguished track record in sustainability. The company recently launched its inaugural green bond in the US and was named to the World’s Most Ethical Companies® Honouree List and as one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens.
Johnson Controls, the globally renowned company for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, has announced results of independent surveys of 800+ building decision makers showing a clear shift to increased investment in healthy building trends and technologies. “At the center of a vision for a healthy world must be healthy buildings, and that means delivering on the most critical elements to serve People, Places and Planet,” said George Oliver, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Johnson Controls. OpenBlue technologies Our OpenBlue technologies reinvent the building landscape, creating dynamic smart facilities" George adds, “Our OpenBlue technologies reinvent the building landscape, creating dynamic smart facilities that help businesses meet their sustainability commitments, while delivering healthy places, enriched experiences and cost savings. Johnson Controls leads the industry in translating new building technology capabilities into game-changing solutions that deliver on our focus of People, Places and Planet.” As the only recognized company in the category with 135 years of experience, Johnson Controls is ideally positioned with technologies and solutions that accelerate the reinvention of healthy buildings. The surveys confirmed the need is greater than ever, with 90 percent of responding firms having dedicated resources to healthy buildings initiatives. Helping businesses meet sustainability goals “Building owners are struggling to balance urgent and conflicting priorities between employee health and wellness with critically needed cost savings, increased revenue and sustainability targets,” said Michael Ellis, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer & Digital Officer at Johnson Controls, adding “Johnson Controls is best positioned to help businesses meet those sustainability commitments while delivering on our customers’ return on investment.” The 2020 pandemic showed that few customers were able to reduce building operating costs despite lower occupancy, highlighting the need for technologies to deliver flexibility. Energy and cost savings “Energy use should be dramatically lower when occupancy is low, but surprisingly less than one in ten building operators were able to reduce energy use more than 20 percent,” said Michael Ellis, adding “At a time when companies are aggressively pursuing energy and cost savings, customers need and want solutions that help them do better, while increasing the health profile of those buildings.” He further said, “Johnson Controls OpenBlue technologies deliver a unique, game-changing capability to solve for healthy places, while simultaneously serving sustainability goals.” The survey of facilities operators showed a range of specific investment priorities to meet goals for Healthy People, Healthy Places and a Healthy Planet. Healthy People Businesses are highly committed to employee health and wellness as a driver of high-performing teams Businesses are increasingly committed to employee health and wellness as a driver of high-performing teams. The studies show an increase in investments by organizations toward wellness, clean air and peace of mind. 80 percent of respondents stated that protecting the health and safety of building occupants during the COVID-19 pandemic and afterward is very or extremely important. New factors are being included in this mix, such as temperature control, disinfection, ventilation and air filtration which all require well maintained systems and equipment, enhanced through intelligent sensors and control software. Contactless access and contact tracing The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the potential benefit of these technologies and for contactless access and contact tracing. These capabilities can help increase overall building security through enhanced tracking of building guest and occupant access, flow and location, while maintaining trust. Johnson Controls delivers solutions for all of these needs and in support of broader wellness for people in shared spaces. Healthy Places Finding cost savings and making fast and informed decisions, supported by data, is a critical part of facility operations. In the Johnson Controls independent studies, 80 percent of facility executives stated that increasing flexibility to quickly respond to emergencies is a top driver for investment in technologies such as flexible facility monitoring and healthy air strategies. The spaces in which people work, shop, entertain and live become more inviting, more efficient and less expensive to operate over time. Space optimization and capital planning Space optimization, capital planning and increasing the uptime and lifetime of assets all support operational performance and lead to cost savings & increased revenue opportunities for building operators. Johnson Controls OpenBlue, a complete suite of connected solutions and services, leverages digital integration to optimize the performance of buildings and assets. Healthy Planet Energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart building technology are becoming more critical each year Improvements in energy efficiency, renewable energy and smart building technology are becoming more critical each year. In the studies, 76 percent of facility executives stated that energy cost savings are a top driver for investment. These investments also influence corporate sustainability rankings, an important metric for attracting and retaining investors, employees and customers. Buildings are responsible for about 40 percent of the planet’s total energy consumption and 36 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. But only 1 percent of buildings undergo energy efficient renovation every year. Achieving net zero carbon status Effective action is crucial in aligning to increased regulation, decreasing energy consumption and increasing sustainability. For the health of the planet, the studies revealed that 57 percent of organizations plan to achieve net zero carbon or positive energy status in at least one facility in the next ten years. Through ongoing efforts to create more healthy buildings, Johnson Controls has implemented more than 3,000 energy-savings performance contracting projects in North America alone. The result has been reductions of more than 29 million metric tons of carbon emissions from customer facilities and savings of US$ 6 billion in energy and operating costs driven by a comprehensive suite of product and technology solutions. In fiscal year 2019, almost half of Johnson Controls revenue came from products and services that reduce energy use and improve sustainability. Johnson Controls helps building owners and occupants make efficient, productive decisions in support of healthy people, healthy places and a healthy planet.
Johnson Controls, the pioneer for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings and architect of OpenBlue connected solutions, is expanding its Tyco DS Dry Sprinkler product family to include the DS-8 8.0K (K 115) Dry Pendent Sprinkler. The enhanced features of the DS-8 Sprinkler make it ideal for protecting commercial freezers and outdoor spaces like balconies, breezeways, loading docks and parking garages. The DS-8 Dry Sprinkler provides more flexibility for designers and offers the possibility for lower design pressure compared to other dry sprinklers. Unique building projects The DS-8 is available in both quick response and standard response and is cULus listed It connects seamlessly with the entire Tyco DS product portfolio, including the DSB-2 Dry Sprinkler Boot, to provide a single-source solution and ease of installation. The DS-8 is available in both quick response and standard response and is cULus listed. “With the addition of the DS-8, the Tyco DS portfolio represents the ultimate in dry sprinklers for customers, both in function and finish,” said Bob Cordell, global product manager, Johnson Controls. “The complete DS line supports our goal of enhancing building safety and increasing occupant satisfaction through innovative fire protection technology.” The DS-8 Dry Pendent Sprinkler features a 3 mm or 5 mm thermo sensitive glass bulb that can be used in cold environments, specifically in sprinkler systems that are exposed to freezing temperatures. With a variety of escutcheons (recessed, deep, standard or none), escutcheon finishes (including stainless steel) and custom piping lengths available, the DS-8 provides end users with the increased design flexibility and installation options to meet customers’ unique building project needs.