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With the roadmap laid out for the government to guide us out of lockdown, the end of the pandemic seems as though it could be in sight. However, HVAC units remain outdated in hotels, hospitals, schools, and offices and there is a worry that COVID-19 can still spread quickly and easily through air vents, mitigating the effects of lockdowns and vaccinations. Dr. Rhys Thomas, Chief Scientific Officer at infection mitigation specialist PP-L and a frontline NHS doctor, says that the government’s neglect of using HVAC solutions to reduce transmission is a major oversight. Airborne transmission indoors By failing to follow the lead of other nations that are now recognizing the importance of ventilation in relation to the airborne nature of the virus, the UK’s approach hasn’t been as comprehensive or as forceful as it could be, with quietly introduced, piecemeal changes to regulations being too little, too late. At the moment, some governments don’t want to come out and admit that COVID-19 is an airborne hazard and that their failure to recognize it as such has led to higher infection and mortality rates and suffered even greater impacts from new variants. Research shows that 80% of the spread of the virus is through airborne transmission indoors– the inhalation of infected droplets that are moving around in the room’s air currents or ventilation systems– which a two-meter distance or the opening of the window is unlikely to combat. New quarantine hotels The UK was geared up for an influenza-like pandemic rather than an airborne one The airborne nature of COVID-19 is what has caught governments off guard and meant we are still playing catch-up while new variants are starting to appear, which was also always to be expected. In terms of preparedness, the UK was geared up for an influenza-like pandemic rather than an airborne one, such as the challenge posed by a SARS coronavirus. As with all airborne illnesses, the greatest risk of transmission is indoors and in confined spaces such as public transport, office buildings, factories, and even potentially the new quarantine hotels which are being introduced to prevent the spread of the virus. The governments ‘hands, face, space’ messaging cover the opening of windows to help with airflow, but the reality is much more complex. Latest SARS Coronavirus The risk of infection indoors is vastly higher than outside, and current advice simply isn’t enough. There’s a perception – even in hospitals – that fresh air is clean air. I’ve been shocked to see hospitals that I’ve visited assuming that simply opening a window is enough. That is simply not the case – the air needs to be disinfected by ultraviolet light for it to be clean enough to prevent the spread of coronaviruses. I saw this in practice in the first SARS pandemic in 2003, where UV was used and proved incredibly effective in South East Asian hospitals once again against the latest SARS Coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The spread of the virus around the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which hit global headlines in January 2020 when more than 700 passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19, has become a case-in-point for the theory behind the airborne transmission. Killing airborne contaminants Part F of the Building Regulations on ventilation has been updated and is out to consultation Researchers from Harvard and the Illinois Institute of Technology developed a computer model of the cruise ship outbreak, which found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets light enough to linger in the air. The research added to the pressure already being placed on the World Health Organization to recognize the airborne dangers of the virus, including an open letter signed by more than 200 experts. The key point here is that there has been some level of recognition from various government departments that the virus is airborne, and they have mitigated accordingly. Part F of the Building Regulations on ventilation has been updated and is out to consultation, and the Health and Safety Executive’s COVID-Secure Guidance for the Workplace on Ventilation has also been quietly updated in recent weeks to recommend the use of ultraviolet air filtration systems, which are proven to kill airborne contaminants. Key communication issue These UK regulations are now, at last, starting to get more aligned to other global institutions’ recommendations such at the renowned Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who support the importance of ventilation and UV devices to significantly reduce infection risk. This is a positive step, but the key communication issue is that if the government don’t fully endorse and be more vocal about the airborne threat of COVID-19, and regulatory changes being made, then neither will the wider public. This is a huge issue because the government is already preparing for this virus to be around in some form for many years to come. With 40 million doses of vaccine set to arrive in 2022 and an overall supply line that is set to last until 2025, it’s clear that there is an acknowledgment that this will be a long fight. The SAGE scientists like Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance are also referring to this virus as endemic now. Long-Term readiness The government is already building long-term readiness and diluting the risks by using different suppliers With 407 million doses of vaccine on order, the government is already building long-term readiness and diluting the risks by using different suppliers, but without the acknowledgment of the airborne risks, this can only do so much – it needs to be a joined-up, blended approach. Prevention is better than the alternative because in this case, there is unlikely to be a cure for a virus that spreads and mutates at the rate this one does. Trying to keep ahead of this virus is a dangerous game. It is incredibly adaptable and there is an awful lot of guesswork about predicting the spread and virulence of new and more easily spread strains. Ongoing lockdowns are simply not an option and are increasingly ineffective as people struggle with the monotony and isolation they bring. We need to get on the front foot and not only rely purely on medicine to help solve this crisis. Air filtration systems Engineered solutions like UV-C (also known as UVGI) and air filtration systems are needed wherever possible to help cut this virus at the knees and stop transmission in the first instance. These solutions are now being brought in by several industries and many countries around the world are specifically recommending them because they are recognizing that the guidelines in their current form aren’t doing enough. Those industries such as food manufacturing and production that rely on having people on the ground and in their factories are having to look beyond what they are advised and finding solutions that actually do work. Hospitals, schools, and hotels are the next places that need to be looking at this kind of response, especially with the government’s travel regulations meaning that potentially infected travelers are being kept in potentially inadequately ventilated spaces that could actually accelerate contagion spread to other travelers or staff. Action needs to be taken now, or we risk the further unnecessary spread of this dangerous pathogen.
The modern technological world is filled with ‘extrusions’. They are all around us, in the form of small and not-so-small cross sections. The function of an extrusion is to form seals between components of complex machinery and keep them functional. And, depending on the ‘type’ used, they can make a big difference to how a machine operates. Some of the most desirable types of extrusion — and especially for use in HVAC systems — are those made from silicone. Silicone, which is a type of rubber, has a robust set of properties. For one, silicone can withstand extreme temperatures, both high and low. Semi-Exterior environments Ranging from -60°C to temperatures exceeding 200°C. (And there are even higher grades that can be manufactured to withstand temperatures well above 200°C.) Ideal for HVAC units that work round the clock to keep large numbers of people in large buildings comfortable in summer and winter conditions. In addition to this, silicone is also one of the more resistant properties to the constant vibrations of working machinery. It can be difficult to locate the source of the problem if a tiny extrusion has dislodged. Vibration-resistant properties make silicone extrusions less likely to disengage or fall out of place, therefore minimizing the need for costly repairs. Finally, silicone is also more durable than most other materials when it comes to exterior or semi-exterior environments, such as that of rain or ultraviolet light. Protecting electrical components Silicone is useful in HVAC systems because it offers enhanced sealing and compression protections As a result of this favorability, there is already a considerable number of different types of silicone extrusions that can be found in a lot of HVAC systems. These include HVAC sealing gaskets, hatch seals and vibration isolation pads. But also silicone sponges, which act as a protective layer of thermal insulation. As well as providing thermal insulation, silicone sponges can double-up as a form of acoustic insulation, with considerable noise reduction and anti-squeal properties. Silicone enclosure gaskets protect electrical components, and environmental seals — as the name suggests — help to keep everything protected from the sometimes harsh elements of the environment outside. Silicone is useful in HVAC systems because it offers enhanced sealing and compression protections over most other materials. Closed cell structure On a material level, silicone has a ‘closed cell structure’, which helps to keep out moisture ingress, along with water and dust. The combination of a closed cell structure, along with sealing and compression benefits, makes silicone ideal for exterior seals and gaskets in and around HVAC systems. The softer grades of Silicone have an excellent memory and low stress relaxation, which in turn helps to prevent common faults with HVAC systems — usually caused by gasket failures made from other materials that soften and compress inaccurately. The low stress relaxation properties require minimal force on behalf of the engineers sealing the enclosures, while the memory-properties of the silicone allow it to conform to awkward shapes and gaps of various widths. Manufacturing HVAC systems proactively with silicone in mind can allow more design flexibility on behalf of the engineers. Inevitable rapid movements General purpose solid silicone or silicone sponge is suitable for many HVAC applications And, as mentioned above, vibration isolation pads work as dampers to protect against the inevitable rapid movements of the systems as they power along. But also to help withstand the vibrations of HVAC units on transport systems, such as buses and trains, which naturally vibrate as they run over imperfections on rail and road tracks. As it happens, general purpose solid silicone or silicone sponge is suitable for many HVAC applications, not just those discussed above. The designs of the extrusions would be different, reflective of their function, but the material would be the same. In some instances, customers may also require a flame retardant silicone — certified to UL94 specifications — in order to meet safety standards in certain situations or environments. Great temperature ranges For all its material advantages, silicone is generally more expensive than the other types of material rubber that are used to manufacture extrusions, such as ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM). And while other materials do of course have stand-out benefits of their own — EPDM for example is more hard-wearing than silicone — silicone is still often the extrusion ‘type’ of choice because of its ability to withstand great temperature ranges. This is very important for heating and air conditioning systems. Because some of the most common factors that cause HVAC systems to break down are as a result of seal and gasket failure, which can come about as a result of an overheating unit. Very cold environment Chances of a unit overheating can be just as likely — in fact perhaps more so — where the system has to operate in a very cold environment. With the threat of climate change etched more than ever into the public discussion, we can predict that there will be a steady increase in the amount that this material is used to make up the HVAC seals. And not just because, as temperatures continue to increase and summers get hotter and more prolonged, there will be an increased demand for them. Effective public relations It is no secret that HVAC systems can be relatively expensive to run It will become a matter of effective public relations for managers, building regulators and transport officers to make sure that the equipment they are using — and making — is ‘green’. By using the right materials that help conserve energy and increase efficiency, this will not only sit right with the general public, it should also be more economical, too. It is no secret that HVAC systems can be relatively expensive to run. Minimizing wastage, and the time spent on call outs and repairs will make a notable difference. Of course there are many other ways to also set about making air conditioning and heating units more efficient. Using seals or gaskets made from silicone is just one small piece of the puzzle. But utilizing them will almost certainly be more beneficial than you might imagine. And anything that is a step in the right direction is a welcome change.
ASHRAE, a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment, announced a move to its new global headquarters, located at 180 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, Georgia. The Society began renovations in January 2020 on an existing 66,700 ft building, originally built in 1978, on 11 acres of land. Located 10 miles north of its previous headquarters building, ASHRAE joins other innovation and sustainability-focused organizations based in the popular Technology Parkway corridor. Net-Zero energy buildings “ASHRAE’s new global headquarters is a prime example of how we are helping to pioneer a movement that many expect will ultimately make net-zero energy the ‘new norm’ in sustainable design and construction,” said ASHRAE Building Ad Hoc Committee Chair Ginger Scoggins, P.E. “Although new construction of net-zero energy buildings make a lot of headlines, reuse of existing structures is a basic tenet of sustainability – the energy performance of existing buildings must be addressed to substantially impact the 40% of primary energy consumed by buildings.” “ASHRAE’s goal for this project was to renovate a three-story 1970’s era, cheap energy period building into a high-performing net-zero-ready facility in a cost-effective way that can be replicated in the built environment industry,” said Technical Advisory Subcommittee Chair Tim McGinn, P.E. The photovoltaic (PV) system design is currently in progress. The building will be on its way to fully net-zero energy by March 2021 upon the completion of the PV system installation. Digitally connected solutions The headquarters building incorporates several digitally connected solutions such as remote monitoring" Focusing on the Society’s 2020-21 theme, “The ASHRAE Digital Lighthouse and Industry 4.0, the headquarters building incorporates several digitally connected solutions such as remote monitoring and analysis of building performance, with online dashboarding for transparency and advanced Building Automation System (BAS) integration with other systems, such as ASHRAE’s meeting reservations systems.” Other solutions include a digital twin and Building Information Model (BIM), innovative mechanical systems visible through open ceiling around radiant panel clouds and advanced conferencing systems designed to serve as a ‘digital lighthouse’ teaching resource. “ASHRAE’s first-of-its-kind headquarters building was designed as a living showcase of what's possible through technology integration to increase efficiency, protect people and property, and enhance the occupant experience,” said 2020-21 ASHRAE President Charles E. Gulledge III, P.E. “In addition to supporting ASHRAE’s technical standards, innovative product integrations from our generous donors also provide a scalable and repeatable model for a net-zero energy building design.” Fresh air distribution system Examples of technical features include: Radiant ceiling panel system: This is used for heating and cooling & dedicated outdoor air system for outdoor air ventilation with enthalpy heat recovery. Overhead fresh air distribution system augmented with reversible ceiling fans in the open office areas and displacement distribution in the learning center. Six water source-heat pumps (WSHPs): There are four on basement level and two on upper level atrium that will be used to condition these spaces. Demand Control Ventilation (DCV): This will be used for high occupancy spaces in the meeting and learning center. Air distribution is constant volume in office areas and provided by fabric duct, reducing diffuser count and duct branches. Modeling Energy Use Intensity of 17 kBtu/sf/yr. On-site electric vehicle charging stations available for guests and staff. Roof-top and ground mounted photovoltaic solar energy system planned for installation March 2021. 18 new skylights and reconfigured window/wall ratio. Useful daylight illuminance (>300 lux) at the work plane Window Wall Ratio (WWR) 79.9% Existing – New WWR east/west 33.5% - north/south – 41.9%. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, ASHRAE had already planned to provide 30% more outside air to the building than the required minimum ventilation rates from ASHRAE Standard 62.1 - Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality and will implement other applicable guidance that has been developed by the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force (ETF) for commercial office buildings. Building occupant health The building is located in a forest setting, close to hotels, restaurants and walking trails The building is located in a forest setting, close to hotels, restaurants and walking trails. A large deck overlooking a lake adjacent to meeting rooms can be fully enjoyed on sunny days. ASHRAE’s headquarters is 12 minutes and 6.2 miles from the Doraville MARTA station for easy access to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. The Society’s approximately 110-person staff officially moved into the building at the beginning October. “This move represents another significant milestone for ASHRAE,” said ASHRAE Executive Vice President Jeff Littleton. “In addition to showing our commitment to building occupant health and comfort, our new headquarters building will enable us to provide industry-leading support and service to our global volunteers, while driving innovation that will push our goal of sustainability in action forward.” Successful building campaign A team of ASHRAE volunteers led a highly successful building campaign to garner support for the renovation project. Thirty-one corporate donors committed more than $9.7 million in monetary support and gifts of equipment and services. ASHRAE thanks the following industry partners for their high-level support of the new global headquarters renovation project: NIBE, Cisco, Arkema, Daikin, Price Industries, Belimo, ClimateMaster, ClimaCool, Bell & Gossett, Big Ass Fans, Victaulic, Uponor, Mitsubishi Electric Trane, NTT and PlaceOS. Donors to the building campaign will be listed online and recognized in a special new headquarters commemorative magazine to be published in January 2021. Sustainable built environment ASHRAE’s new global headquarters is an example of an effective built environment" Additionally, ASHRAE members have given over $500,000 to date. In total, ASHRAE has received over $10.2 million from generous stakeholders, making a strong statement about their commitment to ASHRAE’s mission and to a shared vision of a healthy and sustainable built environment for all. “ASHRAE’s new global headquarters is an example of an effective built environment that fully considers the importance of effective operations by installing the systems and equipment in a manner that facilitates operation and maintenance,” said 2019-20 ASHRAE Presidential Member and Building Ad Hoc Committee Member Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng. “We are grateful to our donors for their generous support and partnership. It is this support that not only shows our donors’ alignment with ASHRAE’s sustainability goals, but helps us to address the challenges of designing and operate buildings in a technology driven environment.”
Daikin Singapore ("Daikin") announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SP Group ("SP") to provide Singapore's first large-scale residential centralized cooling system at Tengah. The MOU includes joint research and development, product innovation and marketing opportunities in Tengah, and future collaborative opportunities in Singapore and the region. The partnership builds on SP's expertise and strong track record in operating one of the world's largest underground district cooling system in Marina Bay and Daikin's strength in the air-conditioning industry through its Chilled Water System Equipment including chillers, water pumps, fan coil units, and maintenance services. smart energy solutions "Daikin is enthusiastic about this collaboration with SP Group. Daikin has designed unique equipment for this project in Tengah. With this collaboration, we look forward to working together to make the Tengah town energy-efficient, green and cool," said Mr Masanori Togawa, President and Chief Executive Officer, Daikin Industries, Ltd. Daikin will deploy its Building Management System to monitor and control Tengah's centralized cooling system Mr Stanley Huang, Group Chief Executive Officer, SP Group, said, "SP Group aims to enable a low-carbon, smart energy future by integrating sustainability into the everyday life of the residents. Through this collaboration with Daikin and building on SP's strong track record in providing smart energy solutions in Singapore, we look forward to helping households enjoy the reliability and energy efficiency of centralized cooling." low-carbon smart energy towns The centralized cooling system for residential Housing Development Board projects aims to optimize the energy consumption for air-conditioning needs and reduce the urban heat island effect. Around 22,000 households stand to benefit from this initiative and Tengah will be the model for low-carbon smart energy towns in Singapore. Daikin Singapore will deploy its Building Management System (BMS) to monitor and control Tengah's centralized cooling system. Following the acquisition of BMS Engineering last year, Daikin is now able to provide the technical equipment as well as maintenance of systems as a one-stop solutions provider. This collaboration marks a first for Daikin. The partnership with SP is part of Daikin's longer-term growth strategy to meet the changing requirements of energy players, sustainable architecture projects as well as the rising number of social-conscious citizens in need for more adaptable accommodations. Going Green Regionally Daikin and SP will monitor and optimize the model for Tengah and explore future opportunities to replicate the same reliable and efficient system in other parts of Singapore and the Southeast Asia region. This builds upon Singapore's ongoing roadmap for greener buildings as well as the longer-term vision for a Singapore Smart-city that includes sustainability in its advocacy.
A new cloud-based solution enables HVAC professionals to access VRF systems remotely to diagnose service issues and lessen the time and costs of providing service. CoolAutomation’s Remote HVAC Service Solution enables HVAC service providers to remotely troubleshoot issues by analyzing real-time and historic data trends and analysis. They receive automatic error and anomaly notifications in their office or on their mobile phones. “The remote service solution provides the tools that HVAC service providers need to offer remote services to their existing clients while attracting new customers who understand the value of remote service for their business,” says Roy Muchtar, VP of Products at CoolAutomation. variable refrigerant flow On site, a CoolAutomation CloudBox connects directly to the VRF and links to the cloud via routers and the Internet. The box shares data on the operation of the VRF to the cloud, where a subscription service enables it to be analyzed to determine any problems. The service solution can connect to any major VRF (variable refrigerant flow) system, including Mitsubishi, Daikin, LG, Samsung, et. al.; and can connect to VRF units from multiple manufacturers in case a customer has installed more than one. The cloud solution begins monitoring information from the VRF at the time of installation If a service provider is migrating from one brand to another, the cloud solution can operate with both if there is a period of overlapping systems. The experience is the same regardless of the VRF brand. The cloud solution begins monitoring information from the VRF at the time of installation, providing a benchmark of how the equipment operates when it is first commissioned. Over time, the technology collects and stores additional data on how it continues to function. remote service solution The service provider receives an email or an alert on their smart phone if something is wrong or if a component is operating outside a defined parameter. The remote service solution also shortens the cycle of service and support. In case service is needed, the provider can diagnose the problem remotely before he or she visits the site; in some cases, remote service can solve the problem. If any anomaly surfaces, the service provider has access to the entire history of system operation to show them what has changed and when. If a site visit is needed, the technician can arrive on site knowing what the problem is and with a plan (and required materials) to solve it quickly. There is no need, for example, for one site visit to diagnose a problem and then a second visit to fix it. cloud-based approach Knowing ahead the complexity of a problem helps service providers decide which technicians (e.g., what level of expertise) to send to the site. The cloud-based approach can also maximize productivity of a service company’s most experienced technicians. A knowledgeable technician can address multiple customer issues in less time, diagnose the problems remotely, and then dispatch less experienced technicians as necessary, knowing exactly what they need to do. The model of sending a technician on site to address every service call, from small to big, will be challenging" In short, the remote service solution is another tool in a provider’s toolbox, helping them improve service, lower costs, and benefit their own bottom lines. There are also benefits for any companies seeking to provide “HVAC as a service” – less cost and more dollars go to the bottom line from any monthly subscription payments. remote service capabilities During the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of remote service have become even more obvious as a way to minimize customer visits. In fact, in general, end customers increasingly are coming to expect remote service capabilities from providers. “HVAC technical service organizations and HVAC contractors will have to make some transition in the way technical service is being provided because of the pandemic,” says Muchtar. “The model of sending a technician on site to address every service call, from small to big, will be challenging in an environment of ever-changing travel restrictions.” The remote service solution also avoids having to set up an appointment to access a system if the building is vacant (because of coronavirus). Also, any anomalies in system operation are less likely to be noticed if the building is empty, so remote monitoring is even more valuable. From the end customer’s perspective, it is likely a service provider can solve any situation before the customer is even aware there is a problem. The time needed for problem resolution is shorter, and lifespan of the system is longer because small problems are addressed before they cause larger problems. In addition to service issues, the information stored in the cloud provides voluminous data that can be analyzed to yield insights on how the system has been used, the performance of various elements, etc. interpreting larger trends The CloudBox, also used for home automation, is already in use in more than 90 countries A rules engine can aid with analyzing multiple factors to interpret larger trends. Rules can be customized to provide alerts based on specific parameters and/or anomalies, and customers can share a library of rules generated by other users. Alerts may include operational analytics (e.g., if the room temperature goes below 60 for 30 minutes), manufacturer alerts (if something is wrong with the VRF), and maintenance alerts (e.g., filter needs to be changed). The new technology, launched in late June, has been beta testing worldwide for several months, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Germany. The CloudBox, also used for home automation, is already in use in more than 90 countries. targeting facility managers Use of the technology will soon be expanded beyond VRFs to connect with chillers and other more traditional HVAC systems; however, additional integration is needed to operate with various brands of chillers, each with a different interface. In addition to the remote service solution, CoolAutomation also offers a control application (for end users). Later this year, the company will be introducing an application targeting facility managers that addresses issues such as scheduling and energy consumption