If history truly repeats itself, might we learn lessons from the past – even lessons about managing a novel coronavirus that upends our way of life and changes the world forever? The most commonly cited parallel to the COVID-19 pandemic is the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Both diseases are caused by viruses that had not been seen before. In both cases, no one had immunity to a highly infectious germ that was spread through respiratory droplets. Both outbreaks occurred in multiple waves o...
According to the latest statistics, Britain now has the highest daily COVID-19 death rate in the World, following an unfortunate record month of fatalities during January 2021. While UK Government is quick to defend this statistic, the fact remains that our country has been crippled by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and now, as the population battles through yet another lockdown, it seems that the only 'way out’ is through widespread vaccination. impact of COVID-19 Though imperative, this strat...
Johnson Controls, a global provider of smart, healthy, and sustainable buildings, introduces the new ENVIRCO IsoClean CM Portable HEPA Air Cleaning System from KOCH Filter. IsoClean CM provides the optimum combination of efficient HEPA air cleaning with multiple air changes per hour to continually improve indoor air quality (IAQ) and help minimize the spread of airborne pathogens including COVID-19. IsoClean CM comes equipped with two air filters - a MERV-8 anti-microbial prefilter to capture l...
How grooved solutions have been making contractors and engineers reimagine the way they construct risers in vertical buildings? Enter into the right pub, or head to a city’s museum or town hall, and you can often find a picture of how the surrounding area used to look. An image from twenty years ago and the difference isn’t too vast. Fifty years back and there’s a definite change. A picture from over a hundred years ago and it’s practically unrecognizable. And what&rsquo...
Johnson Controls, a global provider of smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, announced it has joined The Climate Pledge, a commitment co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism. Signatories of the Pledge commit to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, ten years ahead of the goal set out in the United Nations’ Paris Climate Agreement. Johnson Controls is one of 53 organizations that have now signed the Pledge, and the move comes hot on the heels of the company’s announcement...
In 2020, the support programs of the Federal Office for Economics and Export Control (BAFA) and the Reconstruction Loan Corporation (KfW), which were increased as part of the climate package, ensured a significant market recovery. At the beginning of 2021, the Federal funding for efficient buildings (BEG) will come into effect, at least in part (individual measures in the grant variant) and will replace the previous programs. Federal funding for efficient buildings (BEG) Most of the funding c...
The heating industry is barring consumers from exercising their rights to choose efficient heating systems, according to consumer advice experts at The Heating Hub. Jo Alsop, Founder of The Heating Hub, said “For too long the UK’s domestic heating industry has been focused on volume boiler sales rather than on providing consumers with good advice about how to choose long-lasting, efficient systems.” highest boiler replacement Rate The United Kingdom has one of the highest boiler replacement rates in Europe" She adds, “The sector is simply ‘not fit for purpose’ and as a result of this addiction to boiler sales, the United Kingdom has one of the highest boiler replacement rates in Europe. Too many consumers are being short changed for us not to act.” Millions of Britons are currently working from home and spending more time indoors in order to comply with restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus, leading to a rise in demand for gas. Energy prices are due to increase further in April 2021, as a result of rising wholesale costs, which will see typical dual fuel bills rise by £96 to £1,138 a year. Reducing energy bills, a top priority for UK residents Jo Alsop further said, “With domestic heating forming one of the largest and fastest rising components of household expenditure, reducing energy bills is a top priority for many people and improving boiler efficiency would significantly contribute towards reducing fuel consumption.” Jo adds, “Premature replacement and low efficiencies as a result of an incorrect installation are costing cash-strapped consumers thousands of pounds in unnecessary expenditure over the lifetime of their boiler.” Difficult to gauge true operational efficiency of boilers She further stated, “Consumers are promised A-rated boilers with efficiency ratings of at least 92%, but the reality is that efficiencies are much lower in the home as a result of inadequate installation practices. Boiler manufacturers have made it virtually impossible for consumers to know the true operational efficiency of their boiler. Furthermore, consumers are routinely advised to replace boilers that could be repaired and do not need to be changed.” The Heating Hub website was launched late last year, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 lockdown, to provide consumers with honest facts about their heating systems along with impartial, expert advice to help them select the very best boiler package for their household needs. Research conducted by The Heating Hub shows that an incorrectly installed boiler will cost the average UK household £418 per year and in the last 7 to 10 years, by comparison, a correctly installed boiler should last over two decades and consume less fuel, saving the average household close to £7,000 over the lifetime of the boiler. Modern condensing boilers offer high efficiency rates Boiler efficiency is more than just turning the thermostat down a degree" While modern condensing boilers are capable of achieving high-efficiency rates, industry research conducted by The Heating Hub reveals that 99% of installers are not adequately trained to set up a boiler to work at its optimal efficiency. The company says that chronic underinvestment in training has also left the industry unprepared to cope with increased demand for new technologies, such as heat pumps. Jo Alsop said, “Boiler efficiency is more than just turning the thermostat down a degree, and unfortunately the lack of training and awareness among installers means even when consumers change their boiler, they are too often swapping an existing poorly set up boiler to a new poorly set up boiler.” Need for correct configuration and advice on boilers She adds, “Our efficiency audits have revealed that most households have oversized incorrectly configured boilers that are cycling on and off and using too much fuel. On a 1-2-1 basis, we can recommend changes to the boiler’s set up and compatible controls that make a huge difference to boiler efficiencies and save consumers thousands of pounds in unnecessary and ineffective boiler changes.” The Heating Hub website is the UK’s first one-stop-shop for impartial boiler advice and unlike other price comparison sites and online boiler companies, the service provides consumers with free, unbiased advice on selecting the correct boiler for their home. Paid-for ‘Hero Support’ service The company also offers a paid-for ‘Hero Support’ service which takes care of the entire process of boiler research, selection, and finding an installer from the 1% of engineers trained to fit modern boilers correctly.
Johnson Controls, a global provider of smart, healthy, and sustainable buildings, is leading the charge on sustainable manufacturing with its continued commitment to green energy. The company’s 1.3 million square-foot HVAC manufacturing plant in Wichita, KS, is now powered by 100 percent wind energy. The plant manufactures residential heating and air conditioning equipment for the YORK, Luxaire, Coleman, and Champion brands. With this switch to renewable energy, the plant’s electricity is offset by zero carbon electricity, which represents 19 percent of Johnson Controls U.S. manufacturing electricity consumption. local wind power “With the Wichita plant now operating on 100 percent local wind power, this is not only a major achievement for Johnson Controls, but also the community. This change has dramatically reduced emissions and the plant’s environmental impact for many years to come,” said Joe Oliveri, Vice President and General Manager, Global Ducted Systems, Johnson Controls. “This is a prime example of Johnson Controls commitment to sustainability and a healthier planet.” Johnson Controls Wichita plant is receiving its wind energy from Evergy’s Soldier Creek Wind Farm, a 300-megawatt wind farm in Nemaha County, Kansas, that was completed in November 2020. The energy cost savings projections from the wind power agreement are expected to be approximately $2.7 million over the life of the 20-year contract - the equivalent of taking 100,000 passenger vehicles off the road. improved capacitor banks Evergy applauds Johnson Controls leadership in sustainability by using local, renewable energy" In addition, Johnson Controls will be installing improved capacitor banks to more efficiently consume the plant’s wind energy. This will lower the plant’s energy consumption by nearly 5 percent, equaling an additional energy savings of $3 million over the next 20 years. “Evergy applauds Johnson Controls leadership in sustainability by using local, renewable energy,” said Jeff Martin, Vice President, Community and Customer Operations, Evergy. “This commitment helps grow wind development in our area, driving investment in local communities and creating green jobs.” renewable electricity usage Since 2017, Johnson Controls reduced its GHG emissions intensity by 26 percent and energy intensity by nearly 6 percent. Building on this history of success, in 2021, Johnson Controls set new ambitious environmental sustainability commitments such as aiming to achieve zero carbon emissions before 2040 as well as reducing the company’s operational emissions by 55 percent and reducing customers’ emissions by 16 percent before 2030. In addition, the company aims to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity usage globally by 2040.
Trane Technologies, a global climate innovator, has announced that the company leadership will participate in a virtual fireside chat at the 2021 Citi Global Industrials Conference. They will speak at 11:20 AM ET on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Global Industrials Conference The live webcast of the 2021 Citi Global Industrials Conference will be accessible on the Trane Technologies official website, under the investor relations section. An archive of the webcast will be available 30 days following the event. Trane Technologies is a globally renowned climate innovator. Through their strategic brands, Trane and Thermo King, and environmentally responsible portfolio of products and services, the organization brings efficient and sustainable climate solutions to buildings, homes, and transportation.
Motili, a globally renowned provider of property and HVAC technology solutions, has announced that effective immediately the company will begin offering Clean Comfort Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) products with every installation and repair job at multi-family, tenant-occupied properties. Clean Comfort IAQ products Motili’s decision to offer Clean Comfort IAQ products is in response to growing industry need. Tenant demand for indoor air quality purification and products has increased significantly in 2020, partly due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Motili is offering pleated air filters, media air cleaners, and air handler purification coils in an effort to improve filtration and purification of the indoor air. Combining UV light and air filters to clean air Poor indoor air quality can cause a variety of harmful effects to a home, its occupants and its contents. “Through a combination of UV light, which can help reduce airborne pollutants, and appropriate air filters, customers may achieve improved indoor air quality,” said Jonathan Cramer, Product Manager, Clean Comfort, adding “We are pleased Motili has joined the effort in supplying these important IAQ products to customers.” Poor indoor air quality can cause a variety of harmful effects to a home, its occupants and its contents. An overly humid indoor environment can lead to mold growth, mildew, and staining. An indoor environment that is too dry can crack drywall and plaster. Enhancing Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) "Indoor air quality is becoming top of mind with building owners and residents alike," said Matthew Sallee, VP Business Development, Motili, adding "Providing clean air in apartments and homes requires a variety of solutions and we're pleased to be working with Clean Comfort and our clients to improve the indoor air environment." Motili brings contractors, operations teams, and the industry’s most advanced property management technology platform together to assess and complete HVAC work requests from start to finish. Nationwide provider of HVAC and hot water services Motili automatically schedules, dispatches, manages and invoices job requests and its predictive analytics improves budgeting accuracy by predicting product life cycle. Motili leverages its nationwide network of over 2,000 contractors and 1,000 distribution centers to provide HVAC and hot water services, across the US, to customers large and small.
Despite the collapse of the most important markets outside Germany, including France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, in the first half of the COVID-19 plagued year - 2020, the German heating industry achieved robust growth worldwide of at least 3.1% down. Growth in German heating market “The initially high losses in southern Europe and the United Kingdom were partially offset by a race to catch up in the second half of 2020, at least in Italy, France, and the UK, so that the sales level here was slightly below 2019,” said Uwe Glock, President of the BDH (Federation of German Heating Industry). Glock adds, “The fact that we are actually in the black is thanks to the dynamic growth in Germany with a good 13%. The Polish heating market also developed similarly in 2020.” Federal climate package for buildings Glock describes the federal government's climate package as a complete success for climate protection in buildings Glock describes the federal government's climate package as a complete success for climate protection in buildings. He adds, “The top runners of 2020, the heat pump and wood heating, benefited from this, with high growth rates due to the subsidies.” The association also focuses on the disproportionately high share of investments in condensing technology coupled with solar thermal energy. This renaissance of solar thermal energy can also be traced back to the ‘Heating with renewable energies’ funding program that has been running since the beginning of 2020. Dynamic growth in heating with renewable energies “The success of the climate package proves that the political ideas behind the grand coalition are right and with the dynamic growth in heating with renewable energies, the ambitious CO2 reduction targets of the Green Deal are within reach,” said Andreas Lücke, General Manager of the BDH (Federation of German Heating Industry). Andreas adds, “The German heating industry is Green Deal ready and already offers marketable solutions for achieving climate targets. What is now needed is continuity with the currently favorable framework conditions for investors in high efficiency and renewable energies.”
Jobber, the provider of home service management software, announces its virtual conference, Jobber Professional Development (PD) Day, will take place on March 24. Gary Vee, serial entrepreneur and 5-time New York Times best-selling author, will keynote the event, kicking off a day of sessions led by an array of expert speakers, including seasoned service professionals and business coaches. The event will provide small business owners and their management teams with valuable lessons around people, profit, and process, so that they’re better equipped to tackle day-to-day challenges and improve efficiencies in their service business. Home service category Despite the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, home service, which includes industries such as lawn care, plumbing, HVAC, and contracting, demonstrated resilience throughout 2020. “Jobber PD Day is yet another way for us to give back to—and celebrate—the people in home service who help keep our communities safe and running,” said Sam Pillar, CEO and co-founder of Jobber. 2021 will be another fast-paced and challenging year for the home service category" "2021 will be another fast-paced and challenging year for the home service category that is also ripe with opportunity for growth. The tips, resources and tools that Gary Vee and our lineup of expert speakers will share are invaluable for operating an in-demand small business during another year of economic curveballs.” Custom-Built schedules The opening keynote, ‘Redefining Leadership: Live with Gary Vee’, will highlight what makes a great leader, how to set up a better definition of success, and what it takes to succeed in 2021. As one of the most sought-after public speakers, Gary Vee will pull from his own experience of helping his father grow their family business from $4M to $60M in sales. After the keynote, attendees will follow their own custom-built schedules consisting of workshops that matter the most to them. The process track, for example, will feature a workshop entitled ‘The Boring Success Formula™: How To Create Systems in Your Business For Profitable Growth’ presented by Shawn Van Dyke, founder of Built to Build Academy™ and author of Profit First for Contractors and The Paperwork Punch List. Overcoming personal roadblocks Kristin’s first TED Talk garnered more than three million views on YouTube Other notable speakers include Kristin Hadeed, CEO and founder of Student Maid and author of Permission to Screw Up, who will run a workshop around overcoming personal roadblocks and building a positive and competitive workplace for the people track. Kristin’s first TED Talk garnered more than three million views on YouTube and she has since joined Simon Sinek’s Optimist team. The event will also provide live networking opportunities where attendees can connect with other home service professionals to talk shop, share advice, and learn from peers. Home service business North American registrants will also be entered to win prizes that support the growing needs of a professional home service business, including vehicle wraps, new team uniforms, computers, tablets, and smartphones. Jobber PD Day is sponsored by Visa, the pioneer in digital payments. Visa is committed to helping small businesses bounce back from COVID-19 and has introduced a number of new programs and resources to help digitally enable 50 million small businesses. At the event, Jorge Ortega, from the Visa Global Social Impact team, will lead a must-attend session on ‘Financial Planning for Company Growth’, that will explore best practices for budgeting, planning, and goal setting.
Air conditioning has become a huge part of our lives whether we know it or not. Most offices have them so that members of staff can enjoy a regulated working environment without having to shiver or overheat. This often makes the office a nice place to work in and helps staff to stay productive throughout the day, regardless of what is going on with the weather. Commercial air conditioning is something that we often take for granted because we barely realize that it’s there. The only time that we notice it is when it breaks down or it doesn’t function as efficiently as we want it to. Why is it important to regularly maintain an HVAC unit? When an AC unit isn’t looked after in the right way, there can be a number of things that can either go wrong Air conditioning maintenance is something that so many people overlook. This can be for a whole host of reasons, including whether it’s that they are unaware that it needs regular maintenance or they think it’s too costly to take on. These are often the most common reasons that air conditioning units aren’t looked after properly. When an air conditioner unit isn’t looked after in the right way, there can be a number of things that can either go wrong and disable air conditioning or just hinder its ability to do its job. Temperatures With a well looked after, fully functioning commercial air conditioner, you’ll find that the temperatures are very accurate and work as intended. This means that everything within your unit is in top condition and working well. For example, on a hot day, when you set your thermostat to a low temperature, you’ll get exactly that. Over time you may find that your air conditioning starts to struggle a little. This can be in a few different forms. You may detect that it takes a lot longer for your air conditioning to get up or down to the right temperature. This can be for a whole host of reasons and so keeping it regularly maintained will help to reduce this risk. Cost-effective As mentioned, a poorly maintained air conditioning unit will likely mean that it takes longer to get to the right temperatures or it may not be efficient enough to even reach the temperature you’re after. With that in mind, it can start to cost a lot more to run your HVAC system in this state. Due to the fact that it might take longer to reach your preferred temperature, you could end up paying more as time goes on. If you don’t rectify this problem, you may end up with an air conditioning unit that no longer works enough to be worth running. This will have adverse effects on the working environment and your members of staff. Safety of staff Depending on where you are in the world, heatstroke is also a very dangerous problem One of the biggest concerns for a business owner, the HR department and the individuals themselves, is that the office needs to be suitable to work in. From a health and safety standpoint, employees need to be safe and protected. Often air conditioning maintenance falls under this and is a necessity. Depending on where you are in the world, heatstroke is also a very dangerous problem. Having an inefficient air conditioning unit that can’t keep up with the rising temperatures could potentially put your employees at risk! The same also goes for those in more densely populated cities like London, New York City and even France. The air quality in and around these cities can be awful and so having air conditioning to clean and filter the air before it arrives in your office can make a big difference. Preventative maintenance Preventative maintenance is possibly one of the most important parts of owning any sort of machinery. Whether we’re talking about a car or air conditioning, preventative maintenance is a must. Preventative maintenance is just the act of regular maintenance throughout the lifetime of a product. It often involves changing of parts or fluids, even if they don’t need it in that instant. For example, if you take your car for a service and the engine oil is still sort of okay but will need replacing in 2 months’ time, would you just leave it or get it changed there and then? This type of preventative maintenance is designed to make sure that everything is in top condition and works perfectly all of the time. The biggest problem we face is that people think preventative maintenance isn’t necessary and while, yes your AC system will run without it, it’s likely to cost you so much more in the long run and could end up upsetting your staff too with a drop in temperatures. Employee satisfaction Commercial air conditioning is still a huge part of employee satisfaction Although at the time of writing this, many people are working from home, commercial air conditioning is still a huge part of employee satisfaction. Having an operating office, warehouse, school or indeed home, with air conditioning can help to keep people happy throughout the year. As a business owner, HR or general manager, it’s part of your job to keep employees happy and working in an optimal environment. Without this, employees may start to get fed up with attending an office that’s way too hot to work in. Importance of a regular maintenance plan A regular maintenance plan is going to help you keep your air conditioning system in the best state possible. You‘ll be able to detect faults and malfunctions before they have a direct impact on your commercial air conditioning system and prevent any further damage. Through the utilization of a proper plan, you should find that your system has a longer lifespan than those that don’t and should work more efficiently saving you time, money and the hassle of a broken system. Keeping your staff members happy is also a must and so dedicating some of your budget to air conditioning maintenance might just help you to keep morale and employee satisfaction on the right level.
HVAC systems have never received more widespread attention and media coverage than they have this year. As researchers determined that air transmission was a major factor in the spread of COVID-19, HVAC systems quickly became an area of intense discussion. Much of the news coverage from outlets like the New York Times, NPR, CNBC, or USA Today focused on air filtration. HEPA and MERV have become acronyms that people recognize, and UV Light and Plasma Ionization air purifiers have almost become dinner table topics. The need for discussion and debate about these topics is evident. As we look to resume some resemblance of normal life we need to feel safe sharing spaces with other people. Commercial HVAC Systems At the forefront of all of these discussions regarding air purification, is the massively flawed assumption that we must recirculate a large amount of the air from space to save energy. Most commercial HVAC systems only utilize 20% fresh air. That means that 80% of the air you are breathing in a public space has been on this ride before. The underlying principle here, from a thermodynamic perspective, is sound. I just spent a lot of energy (and $) conditioning this air for human comfort and now you want me to just throw it away?! In the name of all things public health, yes, throw it away! Energy Consumption It takes a large amount of energy to cool, dehumidify, and/or heat air so we humans can enjoy our time indoors in comfort Now before you draft your eloquently worded hate mail, let me take a minute to explain why we think you can just throw away perfectly conditioned air and still maintain a high level of energy consciousness. It’s true that it takes a large amount of energy to cool, dehumidify, and/or heat air so we humans can enjoy our time indoors in comfort. However, it is possible to exhaust ALL of the contaminated air from an occupied space and still conserve a large portion of the energy in that air. This can be done by passing the outside air (fresh air) and the exhaust air through separate heat exchangers where the energy can be transferred without the two air streams physically making contact. From a hygiene perspective, this process is ideal. Hospitals and industrial plants have been using one form or another of this technique for decades. The challenge for wider, commercial, adoption has been packaging restrictions of these systems and in a lot of cases the energy consumption of your supposedly energy-saving equipment. Energy Recovery Technology Cue ACT’s award-winning energy recovery technology, the Pump-Assisted Split Loop Energy Recovery Heat Exchanger. This product recently won the AHR Expo 2021 Innovation Award in the highly competitive Green Building category. The magic of the technology relies on the efficiency of the boiling and condensation process. When harnessed properly, one can exchange huge amounts of energy between two air streams just by circulating a particular fluid from one system to the next. A major benefit of allowing the fluid to boil and condense around the loop is that it allows the system to operate passively, using just the forces of good old fashion gravity. As a fluid boil, a portion of the liquid is converted into vapor which naturally wants to rise. Once that vapor gives off its energy it condenses back into a liquid that naturally wants to fall. If you can provide a source of energy input for boiling and a source of energy removal for condensing you can create a naturally circulating loop that requires absolutely zero electrical energy to operate. Two Separated Air Streams Transferring energy between two separated air streams with the least amount of total energy consumption and no cross-contamination In commercial HVAC systems, the warmer air stream can be the source of energy input and the cooler air stream can be the source of energy removal. As the seasons change, the air that is exhausted from a space flips from being warmer than the outside air (in the winter for instance) to be the colder air stream (in the summer). This means that at some point during the year you lose your gravitational advantage so for the other half of the year when you need to transfer energy in the opposite direction of gravity, ACT’s system uses a fractional horsepower pump (hence the pump-assisted part). The end result is a method of transferring large amounts of energy between two separated air streams with the least amount of total energy consumption, and with no cross-contamination. And because the fluid is circulated between the two air streams (either by gravity or by way of a small pump) this technology is highly geometrically flexible and customizable. With this product, HVAC systems can take in 100% fresh, outside air and throw it all away without having to worry about being wasteful. Improving HVAC Systems Most of the focus and efforts around improving HVAC systems have so far been centered too much on how we make old technology deal with new problems. These kinds of approaches are band-aids, at best, and often result is short-sighted solutions that never really advance the industry as a whole. ACT’s new product helps solve the problems of the new normal while moving the HVAC industry closer to that breath of fresh air we could all use right now.
As we look back at 2020, we are all reflecting on the year that was, and what we have learned from it. In the HVAC space, the year provided us with opportunities for growth and change, as we adjusted to our “new normal.” Here’s a look at some of the HVAC trends we see happening now taking hold as we head into 2021. Advancements and applications in indoor air quality - especially in HVAC space (SF / MF / CRE) 2020 was filled with starts and stops with regards to innovation. Covid-19 halted work in some facilities altogether earlier in the year. The pandemic has brought with it a re-energized interest in the air quality around us, especially in the public sector. There has been a newfound imperative in creating indoor air quality solutions that ensure that air is circulated, sanitized and purified to reduce the likelihood of the spread of sickness. This is a massive issue and 2021 will see growing efforts in these areas and the increased introduction of systems that will purify air quality. HVAC building systems Continued push toward energy efficiency (mainly SF but also CRE) Energy efficiency will be an ongoing issue into the foreseeable future. Once we have looked back at 2020’s carbon emission reductions (because fewer people were flying and driving) there will be no turning back. The same can be said for HVAC. Increased efficiency will continue to be an ongoing pursuit in 2021 and beyond. On average, HVAC appliances consume 48% of a household’s total energy usage. The latest generation of smart thermostats that use the newer 410A refrigerant have brought about reduced energy consumption by up to 35% optimizing how HVAC building systems are operated (reducing the possibility of leaving the AC on too long, and when it’s not necessary to use). convenience and energy savings Increase in supply chain management / platform services HVAC services such as those that collect and manage data including HVAC unit age, efficiency and condition at the property and portfolio level will continue to see increased adoption. These convenience and energy savings they provide is being seen in the multi-family and commercial space, especially with some building owners having been grounded by the pandemic in 2020. New construction had a role in expanding interest in HVAC asset tagging and helping it gain traction in the industry The data gathered by these services can be used in the future to predict HVAC system failures with significant accuracy before they happen. The convenience and potential cost savings acquired by implementing these services will continue to push their popularity into 2021. Additionally, it is interesting to note that new construction in 2020 had a role in expanding interest in HVAC asset tagging and helping it gain traction in the industry. Cataloguing HVAC assets ensures the follow up and guarantees that warranty registration holds and can help track future maintenance during a hold. At the time of sale, the current owner can present true data of the maintenance of these systems, which can increase the current value of the property and can also be used as a tool in negotiation. performing regular maintenance Remote monitoring can be the end to end solution that completes the action behind the alert (CRE mainly) Remote monitoring will continue to see adoption in 2021. Service providers will continue to rely less and less on clients identifying and reporting a problem a heating/cooling issue. The complaint from the tenant may come in some hours after the problem actually starts, and then by the time they get a service request completed, several hours more. And by the time the contractor is on the scene, it is likely more time has elapsed. Remote monitoring also results in regular maintenance, extending the lifetime of a HVAC system. By proactively performing regular maintenance, the overall costs of maintaining a system can be reduced by 40 percent, in addition to ensuring that units are always using the least amount of energy necessary. seamless customer experience Consolidation of HVAC services and equipment - the way people buy - turnkey integrated services One stop shopping for HVAC services and equipment gained popularity in 2020 One stop shopping for HVAC services and equipment gained popularity in 2020 and we will continue to see increased traction in 2021. There are many reasons why developers what to buy equipment directly from the manufacturer, such as convenience, working with a supplier because of its reputation, cost and guarantees on product and services. As more developers buy equipment directly, these manufacturers are responding by helping out with mechanical drawings. This process cuts down the supply chain, allows certainty that correct equipment is quoted, and saves money. The HVAC industry is also turning the corner in becoming more proactive in remediating failing assets and contractors are redoubling their efforts to provide a seamless customer experience increasing customer satisfaction for multi-family communities as well as other means of optimization of services that positively impact tenants, helping increase retention. HVAC providers that can manage the entire process from installation, to job request to invoicing, even reporting and tracking for each job, will be increasingly in demand in 2021.
The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in a poorly ventilated indoor space depends on the number of people who exhale their breath in that space. And aerosol virus contained in exhaled breath is a common way that COVID-19 germs are spread. Therefore, might the CO2 level in a given space serve as an approximation of the likelihood of coronavirus spread? Broadly speaking, poor ventilation of indoor spaces can increase the likelihood of aerosol transmission, and a higher CO2 level is an indicator of insufficient ventilation. In indoor spaces, the CO2 concentration should not exceed 1,000 parts per million (ppm), which is higher than the 400 ppm concentration in the fresh air. Deployment Of CO2 Sensors Measuring aerosols in the air is complex and expensive. However, measuring CO2 is inexpensive. Using low-cost and compact CO2 sensor devices can help to warn against high concentrations of CO2 in the air, and by extension, the likely higher levels of aerosols and greater virus spread. Seeking to provide a warning of high CO2 levels (and thus a likely higher concentration of aerosols) points to a need to increase deployment of inexpensive CO2 sensors in a variety of applications. The simplest implementation might be a CO2 traffic light that signals air quality changes with red, yellow, and green lights. Data Analysis, Remote Access, & Monitoring CO2 sensors tied to the cloud for data analysis, remote access, and monitoring and linked to other IoT devices CO2 sensors can also be tied to the cloud (along with other sensors) for data analysis, remote access, and monitoring. They might be linked to other Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as air purifiers and thermostats. CO2 sensors that are the most accurate tend to be bulky and expensive. However, using a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) technology, a CO2 sensor based on photoacoustic spectroscopy (PAS) can analyze CO2 concentration in parts per million. It provides precise results in a small format. CO2 Levels Proxy For COVID-19 Transmission Each person in a building will exhale approximately 8 liters of air per minute. The air has been in contact with lung tissue and contains tiny liquid droplets (aerosols) that can float in the air. Exhalation air also has a concentration of about 40,000 ppm of carbon dioxide, which increases the CO2 levels in a room. In effect, CO2 levels can be used as a proxy for COVID-19 transmission risk. Evidence shows that long-range aerosol-based transmission routes play an important role in transmitting the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Therefore, analyzing aerosol concentration provides an indicator of the safety of an indoor space. Because of the close link between indoor CO2 concentration and aerosol density, using CO2 sensors to monitor an indoor environment can help to monitor possible indoor spread. CO2 Monitoring The Federation of European Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) in Germany has published guidelines for schools to use CO2 monitoring, including the use of a traffic light indicator. In addition to CO2 levels, other factors should also be considered when determining infection risks, such as the number of infected people in a region, activity type, air filtration, and mask-wearing. Activities such as talking, singing, or shouting can increase risk. Ventilation using outdoor air dilutes both CO2 and virus concentrations. Germany’s Federal Environment Agency’s general guidelines for health assessment of carbon dioxide in indoor air include advice relevant to COVID-19. The guideline classifies any CO2 concentration between 1,000 and 2,000 ppm as questionable; anything above 2,000 is unacceptable.
Data is playing an increasingly important role in smart buildings. Analysis of building system data is guiding an expansion of capabilities in the smart building environment, making building systems - including HVAC - more efficient, effective and smarter. The growth of intelligence in the HVAC market was among the more prominent industry trends in 2020. This article will revisit some of the year’s most popular articles on HVACinformed.com that focused on the trend toward more intelligent systems. "I don’t think many would disagree that the most talked about trend in the HVAC market is smart technology,” says Chris Windass of Incentiv Tec in an HVACinformed.com Expert Panel Roundtable article. “Smart technology like mobile apps allow building managers to control HVAC technology from one centralized point. With this smart technology, HVAC will be able to identify and alert building managers when maintenance is needed or assets have failed to operate.” smarter building technology A Johnson Controls survey found that 77% of organizations planned to make investments in energy efficiency and smarter building technology in 2020. “A complete overhaul of legacy systems is not necessary as small investments today can help position a facility to more easily adopt technologies at scale in the future,” says Lisa Brown, Senior National Director of Municipal Infrastructure and Smart Cities at Johnson Controls. More Intelligence in Home Systems Google’s Nest smart thermostat is offering a new capability that will alert homeowners of problems “As a first step, it’s important for building owners to conduct an assessment and establish a strategy that defines a comprehensive set of requirements and prioritizes use-cases and implementations. From there, incremental investments and updates can be made over a realistic timeline.” Smart systems are also a big part of residential HVAC systems. For example, Google’s Nest smart thermostat is offering a new capability that will alert homeowners of problems with the operation of their HVAC systems based on artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that analyze system performance. The technology will empower Nest Learning thermostats to provide “early warning” of HVAC problems and even direct homeowners to a repair company. Remote Troubleshooting Emerges Sensors are another element of smart buildings. The Internet of Things (IoT) has enabled more sensors of different types to be deployed in more locations throughout the building easier than ever before. The point of installing and using IoT sensors is to gain deeper insight into how buildings are performing, and ensure buildings are healthier, more productive for people to work in, more effective to run and more energy efficient. In-room sensors, such as temperature, air quality and occupancy, work with the IoT to improve building performance. The benefits of IoT sensors are that they are easy to install, both physically and from a commissioning perspective. Remote troubleshooting is another smart capability that is generating interest. CoolAutomation’s Remote HVAC Service Solution enables HVAC service providers to remotely troubleshoot issues by analyzing real-time and historic data trends and analysis. Communicating in Smart Buildings They receive automatic error and anomaly notifications in their office or on their mobile phones 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. Communication is a central aspect of smart building systems, and now there’s a better option: a high-speed wireline communication standard called HD-PLC that is developed specifically for today’s industrial IoT and smart building applications. In 2017, after careful evaluation of various technologies, LonMark International adopted HD-PLC as its new channel standard. smart home standards And last October, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) approved ANSI/CTA 709.8 LON HD-PLC (High Definition Power Line Communication) as a new standard by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Also related to communication, the Zigbee Alliance seeks to promote collaboration in the Internet of Things by creating, evolving, and promoting universal open standards that enable all objects to connect and interact. A quick search also provides a manual, wiring diagram and video training content for that specific unit Their effort took off when Amazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance announced an industry working group in December 2019 to take the “best of market” technologies from leading smart home standards, portfolios and ecosystems and to develop a “super spec” that will be open, inclusive and a significant industry shift in the smart home market. The Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP) is looking to unify the environment, under one technology, one certification program and one logo. Training Technicians Using Technology Technology is also helping to fill the skills gap in the HVAC market. The XOi Vision platform helps on-site HVAC technicians in three ways. One is to “capture” images and videos. A technician can take a picture (with a smart phone or tablet), and the system’s machine learning can extract the text from the nameplate of a unit in the field, interpret the type of name plate, and provide full model number, serial number and other information about the unit, which is relayed automatically to the technician in a text message. A quick search also provides a manual, wiring diagram and video training content for that specific unit.
The year 2020 will forever be remembered for the global pandemic that transformed almost every aspect of our lives. COVID-19 impacted the HVAC market, as it did most other business sectors. However, HVAC also rose to a new level of prominence at the center of the pandemic, both as a potential cause of virus spread and as a source of solutions to fight the virus. This article will highlight the intersection of HVAC and COVID-19 based on articles published during 2020 at HVACinformed.com. Impact Of COVID On HVAC In an HVACInformed.com Expert Roundtable Discussion, several industry experts weighed in on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the HVAC market. Contractors were either not allowed to or were reluctant to enter people’s homes for sales and installation purposes, resulting in decreased demand and, ultimately, decreased sales. However, during extraordinary times, it was encouraging to see a renewed focus on something the HVAC industry has been delivering for years – comfort. Survey By Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) A survey by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) gathered insights on the effect the coronavirus pandemic is having on the HVAC industry. The survey in March indicated 65% of respondents expected COVID-19 to translate into long-term business viability concerns; 9% were concerned their businesses may not survive. HVAC industry employees were included among “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers as designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Roles Of Ventilation HVAC technicians and companies have risen to the challenges of social distancing and wearing masks There was increasing awareness of the role of air ventilation in fighting the virus. There has been renewed interest in air filtration, not to mention the benefits of UV-C to mitigate to mitigate germs circulating in the air. Furthermore, HVAC technicians and companies have risen to the challenges of social distancing and wearing masks as they are invited into customers’ homes and businesses during the pandemic. Resources To Maximize HVAC Systems ASHRAE developed resources to help maximize how HVAC systems can have a positive impact as the coronavirus spreads. The society recommends strategies such as dilution ventilation, laminar and other in-room flow regimes, differential room pressurization, personalized ventilation, source capture ventilation, filtration (central or unitary), and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) (upper room, in-room, and in the airstream). Ultraviolet Light 2020 saw an unprecedented surge in demand for germicidal solutions. UV-C light is a short-wavelength, ultraviolet light that kills germs by inactivating a microorganism’s DNA. Although UV-C is effective in killing other varieties of coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, scientists do not yet know about the impact of UV-C on COVID-19. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the power provider in the United States, is offering incentives to businesses and schools to install UV-C germicidal lights to fight germs in indoor air. Role Of HVAC In Virus Spread Whether HVAC could contribute to virus spread was a repeated topic of interest. One theory goes that air conditioning, by removing humidity from the air, may enable infectious droplets to linger longer than they would outdoors or in another space where humidity is higher. More humidity can weigh down viral droplets as they float through the air. Minimize The Spread Of The Virus ASHRAE opposes the advice and asserts that keeping air conditioners on during this time can help control the spread of the virus Does it make sense, therefore, to turn the AC off to minimize the spread of the virus? according to ASHRAE, which officially opposes the advice not to run residential or commercial HVAC systems. In fact, ASHRAE asserts that keeping air conditioners on during this time can help control the spread of the virus. Also related to virus spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on a case under the title “COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with Air Conditioning in a Restaurant, Guangzhou, China, 2020.” Research Trends And The Future The need for more research will continue after the pandemic. Broadly speaking, we know that crowded spaces with poor ventilation and/or low humidity levels tend to promote virus spread, that filtration can help to remove the virus, and that measures such as UV-C radiation can help to disinfect indoor air. More study is needed, and more time is needed to complete those studies and expand our base of knowledge on this important subject. Preventing COVID Panasonic has conducted research that verifies that hydroxyl radicals contained in water can inhibit the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The nano-sized electrostatic atomized water particles are generated by applying a high voltage to moisture in the air. Here is a statement from the company, "While Panasonic makes a wide range of products that generate these types of free radicals, none of these products has been tested for efficacy in the inhibition of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on surfaces or in the air.” Innovative approaches to fighting COVID include HVAC-equipped smart, glass-paneled bus stop shelters that that help to prevent pandemic spread in the Seongdong district in northeastern Seoul, South Korea. Ventilation And Air Filtration As schools worked to reopen safely in the midst of a global pandemic, HVAC was at the center of the mission. Adequate ventilation and effective air filtration are critical elements to ensure safe indoor air quality for educational institutions. Many schools are housed in older buildings that may not have been adequately maintained. Transforming them to address the new challenges of minimizing exposure to the novel coronavirus is that much more difficult.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on restaurants, bars, and wineries. With indoor seating restricted in so many places around the country, business owners have had to look for practical and cost-effective solutions to comfortably – and safely – service their customers in an outdoor setting. As the weather turned colder, this became more of a challenge. Two Twisted Posts (TTP) Winery in Purcellville, Virginia, successfully met this challenge by selecting infrared radiant heaters from Marley Engineered Products to warm their outdoor areas. Radiant heater configurations Working with O.T. Hall & Son, Inc., a family-owned electrical manufacturer’s representative firm that has covered the Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and Delaware markets since 1920, Brad Robertson, the owner of TTP, approved the installation of QMark infrared heaters from Marley Engineered Products to heat the outdoor spaces. Ideal for indoor/outdoor, total, or spot heating use, the infrared heaters feature heavy-gauge bright anodized aluminum reflectors and a steel enclosure. “Radiant technology puts warmth right where you need it, without having to heat – or pay for heating – the surrounding air,” said Mike Jennings, inside sales representative with O.T. Hall. “With no need for a fan or exhaust, radiant heaters provide a safe, quiet heating alternative for many indoor and outdoor spaces. We offer a variety of radiant heater configurations, sizes, reflector angles, and elements so that we can customize the right heater for the project and for a customer’s specific performance and design needs.” Forced-Air heaters The radiant heaters from Marley were installed in covered areas including a crush pad with three open sides “Heating the outdoor air with an open flame or forced-air heaters would be less efficient as that heat would just rise up and leave the space through the roof vents,” said Robertson. “Also, we have an all wood barn structure where open flames are not a good option. We sought a low-maintenance, efficient, and easy to control method to keep people seated outdoors comfortable enough to stay and drink our wine.” The radiant heaters from Marley were installed in covered areas including a crush pad with three open sides and on a covered porch along the length of the building. These areas feature 14-foot ceilings with no insulation and are open to the elements. From the original engineering diagram and with the size, spacing, and location of the heaters, the installation was projected to increase the temperature of the large space to within 20 degrees of the outside temperature. Heated covered area In the outside space next to the building, it was projected to increase by 10 degrees. To help deter wind and precipitation, Robertson also installed removable vinyl tent sidewalls around the outdoor spaces. With the heaters fully operational, Robertson placed a thermometer in the area to monitor the temperatures of the spaces. “On one check date, we had a temperature outside of around 32 degrees and a reading in the heated covered area of around 58 degrees,” he said. “Similarly, on a date when the outside temperature was 40 degrees, we had covered area readings of 60 degrees. These readings validate the engineer’s predictive performance and are making our outdoor areas much more comfortable for visitors.” Additional seating areas Robertson expects the added operational cost from the installation of the heaters to be minimal Robertson expects the added operational cost from the installation of the heaters to be minimal and much lower when compared to using propane to heat the same areas. He also believes his revenues should increase slightly because of the additional seating areas. “We were able to turn our patio into an ideal seating area because of these efficient heaters and this kept us open during the COVID pandemic,” said Robertson. “Without these heaters, we would have likely been forced to close for the winter season and not only would have lost revenue but may also have lost long-time employees and customers if we were closed for an extended period.” Now, wine connoisseurs can spend more time comfortably enjoying the high-quality bottles that TTP Winery produces. "We look forward to extending our outdoor season and using our outdoor space for special event groups that we previously had to turn away," added Robertson.
Welsh plumbing, heating and green energy company, Heatforce, has entered into a two-year sponsorship of Glamorgan Cricket Club in association with Viessmann. The spectator terrace at Glamorgan Cricket’s Sophia Gardens Stadium, Cardiff, will be renamed ‘The Heatforce/Viessmann Terrace.’ Heatforce’s close relationship with Viessmann has led to the decision to explore a new audience, and to provide support for the Club. Local installation partner Sophia Gardens will host the World Cup champions when England take on Pakistan “As a Glamorgan Cricket supporter myself, I’m delighted that we are joining forces with Viessmann, to support the Club and to raise our brand awareness in the local area. We have big ambitions – just like the cricketing side – and we are very pleased to be able to back a Welsh sporting side, especially in these challenging times,” said Paul Maddocks, CEO of Heatforce, which has been serving homeowners in Wales for 35 years. Graham Russell, Viessmann’s Managing Director, said: “Viessmann is very happy to sponsor Glamorgan Cricket, together with our longstanding local installation partner, Heatforce. Having supported Welsh rugby in recent years, we’re looking forward to having a presence at Sophia Gardens and introducing our heating products to a new sporting family.” “Like many others, we can’t wait to get back to spectator sports and some decent cricket weather, and we don’t have to wait too long to be able to support Glamorgan from the new ‘Heatforce/Viessmann Terrace’.” Sophia Gardens will host the World Cup champions when England take on Pakistan, on Thursday 8th July 2021.
Tunnel ventilation systems are essential to the infrastructure of tunnels, which serve to connect people around Japan. Panasonic's solution is driven by a complex network of jet fans, electrostatic precipitators that clean the air, large exhaust fans, ventilation towers, and silencers. Together these components ventilate vehicle emissions, limit noise, and ensure a safe exit in case of fire. When driving through tunnels, they've probably seen what looks like a jet engine hanging from the ceiling. These are in fact jet fans, which help direct airflow to an extensive exhaust network. Sensors monitor conditions in tunnels and help save energy while cleaning the air for release. Silencers are used because the exhaust fans are incredibly loud. Tunnel ventilation solutions Safety is paramount as the large jet fans are installed in the tunnel ceilings above cars, thus Panasonic is vigilant in the manufacturing and installation process to ensure no errors. The ability to offer a one-stop solution is one of Panasonic's strengths. As an industry that began in 1964, Panasonic has years of experience, and its people feel an obligation to protect it and the responsibility to evolve it. Infrastructure advances such as Panasonic's comprehensive tunnel ventilation solutions are a major contribution to society. They provide clean air to the community and a safe driving environment, helping drivers feel confident as they cruise through Japan's tunnels.
The State of Texas has taken a proactive approach to health and wellness in preparation for the 2021 congressional session to begin. After a process of analyzing various purification technologies, the State of Texas selected Eagle Disinfection Group to provide its university validated technology as an enhanced layer of protection for elected officials in the Senate, House, staff and the local Austin community from the harmful effects of COVID-19 and other dangerous pathogens. Commercially licensed HVAC The Eagle Puradigm Technology was fully vetted and deemed effective and safe for use by state Epidemiologists and Virologists. Eagle Disinfection Group is supplying over 1,000 Puradigm HVAC and in-room units to the State of Texas to fully outfit the Capitol complex before the 2021 session officially begins on January 12th. Puradigm units vary in size and functionality giving Eagle Disinfection Group the ability to optimize continuous air and surface purification coverage throughout the Capitol complex. Eagle's commercially licensed HVAC and electrical service partner, Mako Industries, installed Puradigm HVAC specific units covering the House chamber, Senate chamber, and Capitol Extension. Volatile organic compounds Puradigm Technology was specifically tested and validated to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 The Eagle Puradigm Technology has been extensively tested and validated by American universities and health organizations worldwide to be effective against a wide range of viruses, bacteria, mold, fungus, mildew, odors, volatile organic compounds and other harmful pathogens. In June of 2020, Puradigm Technology was specifically tested and validated to eliminate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by the University of Florida's Biosafety Level-3 laboratory under strict FDA guidelines. The technology is also proven to deactivate Coronavirus 229E, one of the main causes of the common cold. Surface purification system The patented technology creates advanced purification by proactively dispersing pathogen fighting High Energy Molecule Clusters resulting in purified air and surfaces throughout indoor spaces and transit vehicles 24/7, while leaving no harmful residue behind. The High Energy Molecule Clusters are 100% eco-friendly and replicate Earth's natural purification process indoors. All products are registered with the EPA and certified to be safe for use in populated spaces under OSHA and FDA standards. The Eagle Puradigm Technology is a Buy American compliant Proactive Air and Surface Purification system that qualifies for CARES Act funding. The technology is extensively proven to be safe, scalable and provides 24/7 protection to all indoor environments.
Global thermal and energy management supplier Hanon Systems announces the company is supplying their innovative R744 heat pump components to the Volkswagen Group for its global MEB platform. Designed specifically for battery-powered and electric vehicles, the first to market R744 heat pump components enable a single solution that delivers cabin comfort in cold or warm conditions with low power consumption. Heat pump systems "Based on our own market insight and engagement with global vehicle manufacturers, electric vehicle driving range is a known important consideration," said Nurdal Kücükkaya, president of Hanon Systems. "Our solutions for R744 heat pump systems demonstrate Hanon Systems is actively developing and bringing to market solutions to address these challenges in automotive electrification." The solution designed with Volkswagen uses R744 refrigerant (also known as carbon dioxide or CO2), which is widely known for its heat transfer properties and operates at higher pressure levels compared to other refrigerants. Improving energy consumption The solutions supplied by Hanon Systems, in combination with the refrigerant characteristics of R744, improves energy consumption compared to conventional refrigerants while meeting the desired cabin temperature, even in challenging sub-zero temperatures. Hanon Systems supplies the electric compressor, refrigerant valves, internal heat exchanger and accumulator as part of the R744 heat pump system equipped on various models based on the Volkswagen MEB platform.
The Visual Arts Building (VAB) at the University of Iowa is a marvel of both aesthetic design and mechanical engineering. Six years in the making and completed in October 2016, the award-winning, 126,000 square-foot structure blends the artistry of the renowned Steven Holl Architects (New York) with an array of innovative mechanical systems that smoothly integrate with Holl’s aesthetics while meeting the numerous, industrial-like requirements of this challenging space. Thanks to these mechanical systems, the VAB is projected to consume 60 percent less energy than a building in compliance with ASHRAE 90.1. A Verification Report prepared by a local utility, MidAmerican Energy, converted that percentage into an annual cost savings of nearly $300,000. The utility calculated the final payback on the “incremental costs associated with energy conservation strategy investments” at a comparatively swift 2.1 years. For this project performance, the university earned an incentive payment of more than $550,000 for the building, which recently achieved LEED Gold certification. incredible level of system integration Infelt was specifically referring to the thermally activated slab (TAS) heating and cooling system her firm helped design “Every time we talk about this building and the incredible level of system integration throughout the space, I’m amazed we pulled it off,” says Amy Infelt, P.E., LEED AP — and only half-jokingly. Infelt is Managing Principal for the Cedar Rapids-based Design Engineers (DE), the mechanical and electrical engineering consultant on the VAB project, for which she served as project manager. She was assisted by mechanical engineer Tim Lentz, P.E., LEED AP; and electrical engineer Eric B. Bruxvoort, P.E. In her comment above, Infelt was specifically referring to the thermally activated slab (TAS) heating and cooling system her firm helped design with internationally renowned sustainability specialist, Transsolar, a KlimaEngineering firm based in Stuttgart, Germany. Providing baseline comfort for the five-story structure, this six-level slab system incorporates 67 miles, or more than 353,000 feet, of ⅝-inch Wirsbo hePEX tubing, manufactured by Uponor North America in Apple Valley, Minn. maximize transmittance of light However, Infelt could just as easily have been referring to the bubble-deck structural slab itself: The VAB is one of the few buildings worldwide to integrate TAS with void slab construction. Or, she might have noted several other innovations that Transsolar brought to the project, such as: The metal-shading device (right) that covers the windows on the southern and western sides of the building; or The interior shading device that sits 10 feet below the 30-foot x 40-foot skylight over the atrium that spans the full length of the structure; or The insulated channel glass found at numerous points around the exterior. Each of the above items is intended, in the service of both comfort and energy efficiency, to maximize the transmittance of light into the interior, while minimizing heat gain or loss. energy consumption-reduction You cannot overestimate the impact of having an architect of the international stature of Steven Holl" What drove all this innovation at VAB? Infelt credits the University of Iowa and its decision to recruit a highly regarded “design architect” to create an aesthetically compelling structure for the new home of the art and art history departments. This was necessitated when the predecessor building, which had been slated for extensive renovation, was ruined by a flood in 2008. “You cannot overestimate the impact of having an architect of the international stature of Steven Holl,” says Infelt. “Their firm’s reputation rides on every building they create, so they pay incredible attention to every detail in the design and construction. This attention to detail inevitably impacts the design of all the mechanical systems in the building.” At the same time, the university had also set “very defined objectives for energy efficiency and energy consumption-reduction,” notes Infelt. “Their focus is to design buildings for the lowest energy costs for the long term.” overall system efficiency SHA’s uncompromizing aesthetics and the university’s lofty efficiency goals were not the only challenges for the mechanical system designers. The VAB is more than a building of offices and classrooms. It is also an active, buzzing and humming collection of studio-art workshops, full of highly creative students busily making and building all manner of objects. Which is why the building houses not one, not two, but 10 different dust-collection systems, pulling exhaust from woodworking and metalworking shops, a kiln room with seven industrial-grade kilns, a sculpture studio with a forge and a crucible furnace, an acid room for print-making, plus various studios for ceramics, painting, welding and plasma-cutting — even bicycle-building. In sum, the mechanical systems in this complex space had to maximize occupant comfort and productivity as well as overall system efficiency. Integrated design Integrated design is a huge buzzword in the AEC world right now but this building is truly integrated" The extent to which the structure’s designers and builders accomplished those twin objectives is a testament to the high level of collaboration within the building team. The latter included the Des Moines, Iowa, office of BNIM, which served as project architect, assisting SHA. “Integrated design is a huge buzzword in the AEC world right now, but this building is truly integrated,” says Infelt, explaining how the mechanical systems DE and Transsolar created had to be designed to support the VAB’s overall aesthetic goals, while meeting the widely varying needs of the many different users of the facility. Among the highlights of the VAB, none is more architecturally striking than its atrium (previous page), spanning the entire 150-foot depth of the five-story structure and extending 70 feet vertically. Ductwork, piping and conduit for mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are typically concealed above the ceiling in commercial buildings. utility routing zones But the VAB has very few ceilings, and the design intent was for the atrium to remain clear of any exposed MEP systems. Everything is fully exposed through the rooms surrounding the atrium, including ductwork mains routed through a tunnel below the atrium. That meant its thousands of feet of piping and conduit had to be meticulously coordinated, so that systems were arranged in fastidiously neat and precisely parallel runs, rather than the less rigorous style of most above-the-ceiling construction. “We created what we called ‘utility routing zones’ — specific areas within each room through which all ductwork, pipe and conduit could be routed, with a special hanging system for each zone,” says Infelt. “We even coordinated how the piping and conduit were identified and labeled. All the systems are labeled with the identification in the same color and with identical graphics: black letters on a white background. The specific font and sizes of lettering were both coordinated by SHA.” Thermally activated slab system In short, no detail at the VAB was too small to escape scrutiny and close coordination In short, no detail at the VAB was too small to escape scrutiny and close coordination. As Infelt remarks in her firm’s own literature on the VAB, “The installation of the thermally activated slab heating and cooling system required especially close coordination.” In part, that’s because the slab itself is not solid concrete, but what is called voided biaxial slab, or bubble deck, construction. The VAB bubble deck consists of hundreds of empty, but watertight, plastic balls — or the preferred term, “voids” — 7.5 inches in diameter and sandwiched between layers of criss-crossing rebar and all of it buried in 12.5 inches of concrete along with the Uponor Wirsbo hePEX. The latter, like most radiant installations, is laid out, six inches on center, in a serpentine fashion. sacrificing the integrity of the slab The special challenge for DE and the installing contractor: The Wirsbo hePEX had to be looped carefully into the slab in a way that avoided the voids (as well as all the rebar). The rationale for this type of slab is straightforward enough: All those spherical voids allow for less concrete to be poured, without lessening the thickness nor sacrificing the integrity of the slab itself. Less concrete means a smaller load, which in turn permits weight-bearing column spacing to be far wider — an absolutely critical need inside the expansive, SHA-designed atrium. More frequently seen in Europe, this type of void slab remains a rarity in North America, most especially in the Midwest. Equally rare in the Midwest is a TAS system that provides not just heating, but also cooling. Concerns about condensation leave many building designers reluctant to specify radiant cooling. heating and cooling The six slabs at VAB contain no insulation, so a portion of the energy radiates upward However, inside the VAB, which uses TAS construction on six different levels, “the system allows you to provide cooling in a way that keeps the slab surface temperatures above the point where condensation is produced,” says Infelt. “What makes a TAS different is its use of the full concrete mass to store its heating and cooling longer,” she continues. “The six slabs at VAB contain no insulation, so a portion of the energy radiates upward. But the Wirsbo hePEX is positioned five-eighths of an inch from the bottom of the slab. As a result, most of the radiation is downward, conditioning the space below.” Radiant was an obvious fit for the new VAB with its large, loft-like, atrium space. activated-slab heating Whatever misgivings the university construction team and Controls and Maintenance Group might have had about radiant were largely resolved by an off-site visit to Chicago and to the Loyola University Information Commons, which uses a similar TAS system. "The extended, 25-year warranty provided by the Wirsbo hePEX was also a key factor in ensuring the University’s comfort with the TAS,” says Infelt. “Uponor played a key role in bringing us up to speed on activated-slab heating and cooling technology and then worked closely with us on the VAB design.” Of particular value were the thermal modelings on the heating and cooling capacity of the slab, performed by Uponor Sales Engineer Him Ly. Using the slab depth, the tubing diameter, the depth of the Wirsbo hePEX inside the slab and the temperature of the water moving through the tubing, Ly calculated how many heating or cooling BTUs per square foot the slab could provide. construction of the interior walls Built into the walls, these cabinets contain isolation valves, balancing valves and other hydronic accessories “Once we understood the slab’s true capacity for heating and for cooling, we could best determine what supplemental systems were needed,” says Infelt, “and what type of system would work best in a given space inside the VAB.” All the Wirsbo hePEX was installed in the six slabs before any interior walls were set. This tubing was routed out of the slabs through 71 different manifold cabinets with 634 circuits or loops of tubing. Built into the walls, these cabinets contain isolation valves, balancing valves and other hydronic accessories supplied by Uponor. “The tubing is distributed via a supply-and-return manifold to a maximum of 12 loops per cabinet,” says Infelt. The installed Wirsbo hePEX was left capped and hanging for an extended period, awaiting the construction of the interior walls and the final placement of the cabinets. Supplemental HVAC systems How did the installation crews assure that none of the tubing was somehow damaged during this wait time? “All the tubing was pressurized, and each of the 71 manifold cabinets was equipped with its own pressure gauge for its particular set of loops,” Infelt explains. “Once in the morning and once at the end of the workday, the installation team would inspect each of the 71 gauges, comparing the two readings. Wherever there was a pressure drop, the contractor knew something happened that particular day to damage the tubing. Doing these inspections daily made it easier to isolate and immediately fix any problems.” retain heating or cooling capacity The capacity of the slab to heat or cool is what it is — a constant,” says Infelt The VAB TAS is a “passive” system, with minimal active control, who’s mass can be counted on to retain heating or cooling capacity over long periods. But that consistency also prevents it from reacting quickly to changing loads — such as a busy classroom with large numbers of students regularly moving in and out of the space. “The capacity of the slab to heat or cool is what it is — a constant,” says Infelt. “That is why we designated it the baseline heating and cooling system for the building. We then created extra heating or cooling capacity with our supplemental systems, which can react more quickly — and actively — to changing loads.” adding supplemental HVAC systems The “changing loads” can be triggered not only by student and faculty movements about the building, but also by the various specialized “industrial” processes taking place in its busy workshops. Another, equally important factor are the weather extremes in Iowa whose outdoor ambient temperature can range from subzero Fahrenheit in the winter to several days, even weeks, above 90°F in the summer. To help Transsolar understand the temperature ranges for the project area, Infelt would email them each time the area experienced temperature extremes. Not surprisingly, DE ultimately chose to enhance Transsolar’s innovative TAS concept by adding supplemental HVAC systems that would support the teaching mission of the facility, while fitting in with its structure and climate. variable air volume (VAV) terminal units These systems include: Outdoor and exhaust air systems: This system provides general exhaust for the building occupants, as well as exhaust from the industrial equipment and processes. In addition, these systems introduce outdoor air to provide ventilation air for indoor air quality, as required by ASHRAE 62.1 and to replace the exhaust air. These systems also maintain the building at a positive pressure relative to the outdoors. The outdoor air is delivered via variable air volume (VAV) terminal units with reheat coils and provides supplemental cooling and heating for the areas served. Because of the number and type of industrial processes that occur inside the VAB, a considerable amount of makeup air from the outside is required for both replacement and ventilation air. This outdoor air is pretreated by a custom air-handling unit (AHU) that maintains separate air streams: one running through a total energy, desiccant recovery wheel; and the second, through a sensible heat pipe. refrigerant-charged heat pipe This exhaust-air stream routes through the refrigerant-charged heat pipe where its heat is recovered and transferred Located in the VAB’s lower-level mechanical room, the AHU pulls heat from some of the building’s exhaust before expelling it outdoors. At the same time, the air handler transfers that recovered heat to the incoming outdoor air before it moves into the building. This transfer is done through a slow-spinning desiccant wheel, handling the incoming interior exhaust on one side of the wheel and outgoing outdoor air on the other. “We call it an ‘energy wheel,’” explains Infelt, “because it allows us to transfer both latent and sensible energy.” But not all exhaust is permitted to move through the wheel. Exhaust from the various industrial processes is, of course, “dusty, smelly, even hazardous,” says Infelt, and therefore may not be transferred to the incoming outdoor air. This exhaust-air stream routes through the refrigerant-charged heat pipe where its heat is recovered and transferred to the incoming outdoor air. air-handling unit “The heat pipe is a heat-recovery device only,” says Infelt. “It can capture only sensible energy, while keeping contaminants and odors on its side of the air-handling unit.” While less efficient than the wheel, the heat pipe is “still able to recover the heat from the exhaust from the industrial spaces.” Fan coil units: These units provide supplemental heating and cooling where the demand is beyond the capacity available from the TAS and the ventilation air system. Radiant heating, installed in designated places on the building perimeter: The TAS structural slab at the VAB is covered by a three-inch-thick topping slab. Wherever insulated channel glass has been installed around the exterior, a three-foot-wide strip of radiant heating — again using Wirsbo hePEX — was installed inside the topping layer. Controlled separately from the TAS system, this perimeter radiant install provides heating only during the colder months, shutting down in the summer. No insulation is used, because the 12.5-inch structural slab directs all the heating upward, where it is needed. Single-zone displacement ventilation system: This energy-efficient system serves the 76-seat classroom by supplying air at a low — and therefore quiet — velocity, befitting an academic environment. The desired comfort temperature where students and faculty congregate at floor-level (the “occupied zone”) is maintained, while the air space above is permitted to become progressively warmer as you near the ceiling. comfortable environment for the occupants The activated-slab system is such a good fit for large commercial projects with high-ceilinged, open areas Post-construction tests have yet to be run, comparing the actual performance of the VAB with its ambitious, 60-percent savings target. But Infelt reports that the UI Controls and Maintenance Group, which is responsible for the building’s operation, has found the TAS and its supplemental HVAC systems to be “very robust, providing a very comfortable environment for the occupants.” Given that the activated-slab system is such a good fit for large commercial projects with high-ceilinged, open areas, is DE looking to apply what it learned on the VAB to other commercial jobs? “We would sure like to,” she responds. “But TAS is still not a very common, accepted system. Going that route takes a client like the University of Iowa — a group or institution willing to embrace what is new and different to achieve something special.” sustainability and energy efficiency Infelt recalls an early telephone conversation she had one evening a decade ago with Transsolar founder Matthias Schuler, exploring whether they might collaborate on the VAB project. “Transsolar develops the concepts and ideas for the new things they want to implement. But they need a mechanical engineer to partner closely with them — to make the plans and do the drawings and work with them to realize these new and innovative concepts. As an engineering firm, DE is fully committed to sustainability and energy efficiency,” she continues. “Where others might see uncomfortable risk, we saw great opportunity in working with someone like Matthias and Transsolar. By the end of our conversation that night, Matthias understood that DE was willing to partner with Transsolar, turning their innovative vision into an architectural reality.”