Johnson Controls, the globally renowned company for smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, has announced results of independent surveys of 800+ building decision makers showing a clear shift to increased investment in healthy building trends and technologies. “At the center of a vision for a healthy world must be healthy buildings, and that means delivering on the most critical elements to serve People, Places and Planet,” said George Oliver, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of John...
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...
Nidec Leroy-Somer (Nidec Leroy-Somer Holding), the world specialist with a wealth of experience in drive solutions for industrial refrigeration, has for more than 40 years provided refrigeration professionals with its state-of-the-art and energy efficient motors, and speed drives to effectively enhance productivity of industrial refrigeration applications. IE5 synchronous PM motors Nidec Leroy-Somer’s latest development, the Dyneo+ range of IE5 synchronous reluctance permanent magnet (PM...
Consumer advise experts at The Heating Hub have warned consumers not to get ‘hooked’ on the latest technologies in the drive to reduce carbon emissions, stating that they should focus on selecting the most appropriate system for their household requirements. The UK Government recently announced ambitious plans to install 600,000 heat pumps per year by 2028 and has committed to phasing out natural gas boilers in new build homes by 2025. Decarbonizing homes Decarbonizing homes is a...
Sustainability and environmental impact are core issues of the HVAC market in 2020 or any year. During the last year, HVACinformed.com has addressed multiple facets of sustainability in some of our most popular articles. This retrospective will highlight some of the sustainability articles published during 2020 at HVACInformed.com. An HVACInformed.com Expert Panel Roundtable commented on various aspects of sustainability, including the responsibility of HVAC manufacturers to develop more susta...
Statement from Viessmann in response to the Climate Change Committee’s 6th Carbon Budget, from Darren McMahon, Viessmann Marketing Director: “We commend the ambition to reduce emissions in buildings to zero by 2050 in line with net zero legislation. The CCC report rightly notes that emissions reductions from heating have flatlined since 2015 and much further needs to be done to promote low carbon heating and efficiency investment in the 2020's. We are particularly encouraged by the...
CoolSys - Refrigeration and HVAC Systems (CoolSys), parent to market-renowned refrigeration and HVAC service companies nationwide, has deployed several new technology initiatives to help combat global COVID-19 pandemic spread in recent months. Bipolar ionization Bipolar ionization is one of these technologies with the ability to create charged ions in the air to attach to airborne particles, increasing their size, and making them easier to trap with air filters. Scolari’s Food and Drug Company in Reno, Nevada is a CoolSys customer adopting the technology to combat COVID-19 virus, as they recently began work to expand a part of their facility that contains a casino gaming area and are focused on keeping customers safe. Technology solutions to counter COVID-19 spread “Businesses and companies are looking for solutions to minimize COVID-19 transmission as they re-open and bring back employees and customers to indoor workplaces and environments,” commented Adam Coffey, President and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at CoolSys. Adam adds, “As an industry renowned company in providing HVAC technologies, including bipolar ionization, CoolSys is doing its part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 virus among our customers across the country.” HVAC and air treatment technologies take center stage Bipolar ionization is among several tech-based approaches that CoolSys installs to help fight COVID-19 in indoor spaces Bipolar ionization is among several tech-based approaches that CoolSys installs to help fight COVID-19 in indoor spaces. These technologies are gaining wider adoption as COVID-19 has caused many formerly shuttered businesses to renew interest in proper air ventilation and sanitization. There is significant scientific consensus that COVID-19 is transmitted via aerosols, which has caused HVAC and air treatment technologies to take center stage for many businesses, especially those that welcome customers into their facilities for extended periods of time. Energy savings and odor elimination Bipolar ionization not only offers health benefits, but also the added value of energy reduction by reducing the amount of outdoor air that must be conditioned, as well as eliminating odors. “It’s more important than ever to place emphasis on safety. The ionization technology that CoolSys installs is high efficiency, low maintenance, and has a history of effective use. The added benefit of removing odors from the air doesn’t hurt either,” commented Jerry Scolari, COO at Scolari’s Food and Drug. Jerry adds, “We’re proud to be able to say we’re doing everything we can to protect our customers during such an uncertain time.”
Honeywell announces a new airborne particle analyzer that uses artificial intelligence and cloud computing to enable HVAC service providers and environmental testing professionals to better inform home and building owners of the quantity and type of particles present in the air. Airborne particles, allergens and spores affect the quality of life for more than 400 million people worldwide – for example, poor indoor air quality has been found to cause allergic rhinitis, which Americans spend more than $3 billion each year. Honeywell Air Detective is a breakthrough technology that can capture images and details of those allergens and particles in the air. Indoor air quality The Honeywell Air Detective allows HVAC service providers and environmental testing professionals to evaluate indoor air quality in near real-time with an easy-to-use mobile app that can be accessed on a tablet or emailed directly to the homeowner. This detailed evaluation, including images of the particles, can help homeowners and building managers make informed decisions about how to improve the air inside their homes or buildings. "Understanding what is in the air inside your home or building is a top priority for owners. HVAC, environmental testing, and other service professionals are looking for innovative solutions that will help them test air quality on the spot and determine the specific equipment, service and system upgrades needed to improve the indoor air quality," said Sarah Martin, president of Honeywell's Sensing and Internet of Things (IoT) business. Industrial analytics software This portable analyzer has already been deployed by environmental testing companies and HVAC distributors "We have developed a cost-effective, portable analyzer that uses holographic microscopy and cloud technology to 'take pictures' and classify airborne particles. Honeywell continues to provide solutions to help improve air quality for people while at home, on the job or when traveling." The Honeywell Air Detective is a handheld and lightweight, lens-less microscope that can be easily carried by a field technician to classify types of particles present in the air, including spores and various pollen species. It leverages powerful industrial analytics software and deep learning algorithms that are trained on specific pollen and spore species. This portable analyzer has already been deployed by environmental testing companies and HVAC distributors, such as Yandle-Witherspoon Supply, Inc. HVAC air cleaning systems "HVAC providers are being asked more and more to explain the specific airborne particles, spores and allergens in the air and suggest filters or solutions to improve air quality and comfort," said Philip Guy Jr., Territory Sales Manager, Yandle-Witherspoon. "Honeywell's particle analyzer has proved to be useful in field trials by helping our technicians pinpoint the specific pollen and spores present in the air so that we can work together with homeowners to make informed decisions and take action to improve their HVAC air cleaning systems and provide additional services." The Honeywell Air Detective uses disposable air analysis cartridges to collect particles, photograph them, and automate the classification process onsite. In the past, professionals would have collected and shipped the air sample off to a lab where a technician would be spending tedious hours analyzing the sample under a microscope before providing a detailed report. The device and consumable cartridges are available for sale at select HVAC distributors.
Rhoss presents WINPOWER ECO, a new range designed to be winner in terms of technology, flexibility and efficiency, far beyond Tier2. Air cooled water chillers, heat pumps and EXP multi-purpose units from 360 to 650 kW with the latest generation hermetic scroll compressors optimized for R454B refrigerant. WinPOWER ECO and WinPOWER ECO EXP, eco-friendly solutions by Rhoss, able to combine silent operation and maximum energy efficiency, use an innovative refrigerant distribution system to optimize operation of the unit, improving its performance and efficiency in heat pump mode (patent pending). The range is available in 9 sizes per type and 2 versions: T (high efficiency) and Q (Super-silenced high efficiency). Rhoss Integrated Sequencer Extended operating limits and installation flexibility thanks to the variety of accessories and options. This new range has been designed to meet the customer's most demanding requirements and to be at the forefront with efficiency indexes at partial load beyond the limit set by the regulations (SEER up to 5.38 and SCOP up to 3.95). The new SIR function (Rhoss Integrated Sequencer) allows the management up to 4 units in parallel, guaranteeing precision, reliability and energy saving.
With straightforward installation, intuitive wizard, and built-in design flexibility the Danfoss EKE 400, provide the tools needed to achieve the optimal cooling mode and defrost sequence for efficient, safe, and trouble-free evaporator operation. Danfoss is very pleased to announce the release of the second version of the EKE 400 1.1. Evaporator Controller. The latest version of the EKE 400 comes with new features such as support for DX evaporators with or without hot gas defrost including CO2 and a new cooling mode enabling DX Direct expansion control. Furthermore, the CoolConfig software tool makes setting multiple EKE 400 easier than ever before. Distributed Control System The EKE 400 Evaporator Controller is specifically designed for industrial and heavy commercial refrigeration systems. Based on a trusted Distributed Control System (DCS), advanced control algorithms, and wizard for quick set-up and commissioning, the EKE 400 significantly reduces controls installation time and costs as well as providing operational safety and efficiency. Furthermore, the decentralized approach makes standardizing system design easier. It manages the complete operation in cooling and defrost mode for optimal operation and defrost sequence (ammonia, CO2, and HFC/ HCFC based systems). It is applicable for defrosting both flooded evaporators and DX evaporators. The EKE 400 supports multiple defrost methods including hot gas defrost pressure control/ liquid drain, electrical defrost, and water/brine defrost. Managing internal communication The easy-to-use wizard enables quick setup of key parameters and correct valve selection The easy-to-use wizard enables quick setup of key parameters and correct valve selection for the specific applications. The wizard guides the user through the parameter settings and filters out irrelevant parameters based on actual selections and only shows parameters that are relevant based on previous selections. This configuration ensures a correct and reliable operation. The EKE 400 also provides a multi-language menu and settings overview that supports easy commissioning and hand-over documentation. The CoolConfig Software allows the project engineer to generate the settings for the EKE 400s offline and hand over the file to the commissioning engineer at the appropriate time for the installation of one or multiple EKE 400 controllers. EKE 400 includes both MODBUS communication which allows integration to central third-party equipment like PLC systems as well as a CANBUS to manage internal communication between EKE 400 controllers. Optimal cooling mode With the MODBUS communication established to PLC, users can have read/write access to the most parameters in EKE 400, including set-points, alarm settings, valve opening degree, gas concentration, etc. EKE 400 controllers can also easily operate without a PLC. Multiple EKE 400 can be interconnected for signal sharing via integrated CANBUS. (defrost coordination, temperature sharing, etc.) “Our new evaporator controller dedicated for industrial refrigeration and heavy commercial with its straightforward installation, intuitive wizard and built-in design flexibility will provide our customers with the tools to achieve the optimal cooling mode and defrost sequence for efficient, safe, and trouble-free evaporator operation. Combined with our free CoolConfig software we have a strong evaporator control package for our customers,” said EKE 400 Product Manager Kurt M. Sand.
Armstrong Fluid Technology announced that the company has moved to a new expanded facility for European production and warehousing of circulator products. New Expanded Facility The new facility, located in Jimbolia, Romania, offers greater capacity for the production of Armstrong high-efficiency and standard wet rotor circulators. Supported by Armstrong’s global supply chain, the site will employ 65 team members dedicated to producing circulators for customers worldwide. Reflecting on the expansion, Joachim Schulz, Global Commercial Director - Building Business at Armstrong Fluid Technology commented, “This new facility in Europe is a significant step towards greater production output and a faster pace of innovation. Increased production capacity will help with time-critical installations and service to global customers looking for high-quality, high-efficiency circulators.”
Eurovent has released the first edition of the Eurovent Recommendation 14/6 – Interpretation of Regulation (EU) 2019/2018 and of Regulation (EU) 2019/2024. The recommendation provides the European Commission with industry input for the future guidelines accompanying Regulations (EU) 2019/2018 and (EU) 2024/2019. Eurovent Recommendation 14/6 The aim of this code of good practice is to provide the industry interpretation in regard of the Regulation (EU) 2019/2018 and of the Regulation 2019/2024 and to support the European Commission in preparing the future guidelines accompanying both Regulations. This document was prepared in a joint effort by participants of the Eurovent Product Group ‘Commercial Refrigeration Equipment’ (PG-RDC), which represents a vast majority of all manufacturers of these products active on the EMEA market. Eurovent PG-RDC supports the European Commission Eurovent PG-RDC supported the European Commission since the early stage of the preparatory study" Mr. Pierluigi Schiesaro, Research & Development Director at Arneg and Chairman of the Eurovent Product Group ‘Commercial Refrigeration Equipment’, stated “The Eurovent PG-RDC supported the European Commission since the early stage of the preparatory study. In order to actively contribute to achieving the energy saving targets proposed, Eurovent and its Members deem an unambiguous interpretation of the requirements set out in these Regulations of fundamental importance. That is what we aim to provide with this Recommendation.” Mr. Francesco Scuderi, Eurovent Deputy Secretary General, said “The European industry welcomes these long-awaited Regulations and wants to make their implementation as effective as possible. To assist with this, Eurovent will host a webinar on 26 January 2021, to present the contents of the new Eurovent Recommendation 14/6, and to welcome all the questions coming from manufacturers, distributors, end-user, designers, policy makers, and MSAs.” The Eurovent Recommendation 14/6 is now available for download in the Eurovent Document Web Shop on its official website.
Across the globe, annual food loss amounts total to approximately 1.3 billion tons of waste and 4.4 gigatons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To put that in perspective: If food waste were a country, it would rank as the third largest GHG emitting country in the world, surpassed only by the United States and China. The average supermarket, which brings in about $35M in annual revenue, will see $526,590 worth of food waste and 3,600 MWh worth of wasted energy use, where about 2,000 MWh is used for refrigeration—the equivalent of 170 households. SaaS for temperature monitoring Clearly, there is both an economic and sustainability burden to food loss besides the revenue loss and environmental impact. Luckily, this burden can be eased when using Software as a Service (SaaS), like food temperature monitoring. Supermarkets who monitor their food temperatures will improve their margins and overall profitability by selling food at its full price rather than marked down due to over ripening or close to expiration date. This, in turn, will deliver improved customer satisfaction because supermarkets will be able to continue to stock fresh food while minimizing the sale of old and ripened provisions.Supermarkets who monitor their food temperatures will improve their margins and overall profitability There are many benefits of using SaaS to improve supermarket efficiency, which can help to reduce food waste and lower energy costs in countless supermarkets worldwide. Many of the roughly 50,000 food retail locations that utilize electronics controllers use some level of SaaS technology like Alsense Food Retail Services, the newest cloud offering from Danfoss Climate Solutions for supermarkets and food retail applications. Alsense Food Retail Services is a sustainable, scalable, and secure modern platform that delivers tangible data to improve operational and energy efficiency while optimizing the performance of food retail operations. Its technology is engineered to provide supermarkets with actionable insights that allow you to track refrigeration asset performance, respond to alarms, integrate 24/7 monitoring, reduce energy consumption, and more to deliver savings as high as a 40% reduction in food waste and 30% decrease in energy costs. Examples of food loss prevention with Alsense Food Retail Services The sensor in the meat fridge notices a high temperature and submits an alarm to the cloud The alarm is analyzed by the Danfoss Enterprise Service Team (Managed services) The reason for the alarm is determined and a service provider is contacted The service provider is dispatched to the supermarket to fix the issue in the meat fridge to avoid food loss Danfoss’ advanced algorithms detect if the refrigeration systems are running efficiently or if they are over consuming energy Alsense Food Retail Services is a sustainable, scalable, and secure modern platform that delivers tangible data to improve operational and energy efficiency while optimizing the performance of food retail operations aktiv & irma, a supermarket in North Germany, has shown significant savingsWithout SaaS, the store’s ROI will take much longer than if you rely solely on the hardware as part of the Alsense Food Retail Services pilot program. In collaboration with Danfoss, they installed a solar photovoltaic system, storage system, and a charging station for guests. All major assets in the supermarket system are linked through the Alsense Food Retail Services cloud to manage loads and eliminate unnecessary peaks to best use each store’s energy. Regulating energy levels is accomplished through a variety of methods that offer potential savings: Load shifting: As high as 20 kW in additional peak reductions ($1,758.30 potential savings). Compressor curtailment Solar: 112 MWh electricity produced ($16,410.80 savings) Battery: Grid demand reduced by 40 kW ($3,516.60 savings) Peak load shaving: Charging station is throttled if needed to maintain target max peak level in the store. ($2,344.40 potential savings) aktiv & irma saved about 15% in additional energy costs and reduced over 70 tons of CO2 for a total savings of $20,168.80 compared to other supermarkets. For supermarkets that are considering marrying SaaS with their hardware expenditure, the return on investment (ROI) will depend largely on their level of SaaS investment. Without SaaS, the store’s ROI will take much longer than if you rely solely on the hardware. To put it simply, the more robust the SaaS program, the quicker supermarkets will see a return on the overall system investment. Alsense Food Retail Services? A zero-net, even net positive, billable energy supermarket is possible. The prerequisites to make these savings happen are based on energy efficiency, particularly reducing overall consumption and onsite heat and electricity generation and storage. Energy arbitrage services can enable energy bill optimization. Essentially, this means that energy can be stored in a battery and used when prices in the grid are high.Precooling can also be used to cool down cabinets before prices increase Precooling (curtailment) can also be used to cool down cabinets before prices increase. Another option is to turn off compressors for as long as possible when the energy prices are high. This means temperatures will drift upwards, so turn on the compressors before the temperature compromises food quality. Lastly, supermarkets have further potential to balance the grid via fast Frequency Response, peak Load Shifting, and seasonal Buffering. SaaS technology, like Alsense Food Retail Services, is a strong compliment to hardware assets that can help supermarkets achieve higher profitability and food loss and waste reduction. If a supermarket aims to go zero- or positive-net, the solution is to invest in both hardware and SaaS.
Demand for underfloor air conditioning systems, which are far more flexible and adaptable than ceiling-based systems, has risen as developers and landlords scramble to reconfigure office spaces in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Experts have predicted a 50% reduction in office occupancy, as millions embrace working from home. What is underfloor air conditioning? A zonal underfloor air conditioning system makes use of the raised floor void as a plenum for the distribution of air. Supply and return channels are created under the floor, and zone units serving areas of up to 300m2 are suitably located throughout the office space to generate conditioned air locally to serve the needs of the space. Underfloor air conditioning goes further than displacement systems, offering full function control of the indoor environment Individually controlled fan terminals of either recessed or floor standing configuration are let into the floor over supply plena. These terminals introduce air into the space above in accordance with the dictates of their own on-board temperature sensors and controls system. Users can adjust fan speed and set point temperature individually. Return air grilles are positioned in the floor over return plena. The whole system is controlled by means of the electronic management system controlling the operation of the zone units and the associated fan terminals permitting centralized monitoring and control. Underfloor systems are inherently compartmentalised and offer highly effective solutions in multi-tenant areas and other environmentally challenging applications. Many low-height refurbished spaces suffer from high levels of user complaint due mainly to draft from ceiling mounted outlets positioned too close to the user. The changing work environment At AET Flexible Space, we have seen increased demand, both from existing clients looking to reconfigure their office space, and new clients looking for a flexible air conditioning which can help to future-proof their office. A huge benefit of an underfloor air conditioning system is that they are inherently flexible, and can be changed to suit new room layouts within minutes. Our unique Fantile™ units are installed to sit in-line with the finished floor, and can be easily repositioned at any time without the need for the significant, and costly, building works usually involved in repositioning ceiling-based ductwork. A huge benefit of an underfloor air conditioning system is that they are inherently flexible We are already seeing that COVID-19 has accelerated the trend towards more flexible, future-proofed, and sustainable office space. We have been seeing an increase in demand for our underfloor systems for some time, but the coronavirus lockdown has certainly made more people consider the end-users of this office space, and how they can be best served Workplace wellness is also an increasing concern, and may be a key element for encouraging workers back into the office. The Workplace Wellness Study conducted by Future Workforce found that workplace environment is more important to employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity than most organizations realize. 67% of employees said they are more productive in workplaces that promote a healthy environment. One-third said they lose at least an hour of productivity each day due to office environments that don’t support their daily health. Beyond the inherent flexibility of underfloor air conditioning systems, they also offer high levels of energy efficiency, sustainability, and air quality. As there is no ductwork with an underfloor system, individual zones operate at very low-pressure encouraging energy efficiency. AET’s systems have helped attract LEED and BREEAM and other Green Building points, and can provide up to 30% savings in energy costs and a 29% reduction in C02 emissions when compared to ceiling systems. Cost savings Cost savings are also a key concern for everyone in the post-COVID world, and the flexibility and economy of an underfloor system across the lifetime of a building is increasingly attractive. The British Council for Offices (BCO) indicates that underfloor air conditioning can offer dramatic savings in overall cost, but it requires a co-ordinated team approach to achieve the optimum result. The flexibility and economy of an underfloor system across the lifetime of a building is increasingly attractive In the past the only way to reduce ceiling-based HVAC costs has been to reduce the specification and downsize plant, or reduce flexibility by increasing the size of terminal outlets and reducing numbers. However, these solutions often result in increased complaints of end-users about draughts and noise, which necessitates a costly and environmentally unfriendly re-design. Ceiling-based systems also demand service and maintenance from within the work space, from the simple task of changing filters in fan-coils or cassettes, to more complicated reconfigurations of pipework and ducts to suit a new layout below. Not only do these refits mean significant hidden cost, but they also cause disruption, and have a high risk of damage from condensate leakage. Construction Considerations In order to maximize the benefits of underfloor air conditioning, it must be introduced into the overall design philosophy at an early stage. When incorporated into the overall building design, savings can be made to curtain wall costs, all other height-related savings such as elevator shafts, columns, stairwells, riser shafts, and vertical services such as mains pipe-work and electrical risers. The Swedish National Pension Fund has reported overall cost savings of between 5% and 7% in buildings using underfloor air conditioning. In order to maximize the benefits of underfloor air conditioning, it must be introduced into the overall design Good quality underfloor air conditioning systems are similar in price to conventional good quality fan coil systems, but underfloor systems also reduce the cost of construction and offer tax advantages. The average office building costs in UK are in the region of £1000 to £2000 per square meter. Therefore, a 5% saving in overall cost could range from £50 to £100 per square meter. The average cost of any AC system is in the region of £120 to £200 per square meter, and so an overall saving in construction equates to something in the region of 50% of the AC system. As we move forward into 2021 and beyond, commercial construction is going to require sustainable and cost-effective design. With so many benefits, it is clear why so many in the construction industry are now turning to underfloor air conditioning solutions.
Pete Mills, Commercial Technical Operations Manager at Bosch Commercial & Industrial outlines how cities are using heat networks to achieve UK carbon emission targets. Heat networks, or district heating, are becoming an ever-greater part of our industry’s involvement in larger scale schemes. The ability to help the decarbonization of heat both now and in the future has made them an attractive solution to the new-build sector, as well as those undergoing deep renovation works. Net zero 2050 The UK’s net zero 2050 target may seem like a long way off. But steps need to be made now in order to reach this, something that our leading cities have recognized. Many have set their own carbon targets to ensure they stay on track. This is why heat networks’ ability to provide efficient heat and hot water to multiple buildings (and as the name suggests, whole districts) is a particular reason why many cities up and down the country are turning to them as a solution. What are heat networks? Generally, heat networks are defined as a system of supply pipes with a centralized heat generator (Energy Centre) that serves multiple domestic or non-domestic dwellings. These are usually in different buildings, but sometimes within a single large building like an apartment block or a university campus.District heating is often used to describe larger scale systems District heating is often used to describe larger scale systems of this sort, where there will be many buildings connected over a larger geographic area. In these systems, although the heat is provided ‘off-dwelling’, it is also common to have more than one energy centre. The principle is that energy for heating (and sometimes cooling) is supplied through the system of pipes, with each individual user being metered for the energy they use. Minimize pipe lengths Heat networks offer a number of advantages but are best suited to areas where there is high heat density, that is to say where there are multiple ‘households’ close together in order to minimize the length of pipes within the network. One of the key advantages for heat networks is their adaptability to use any form of heat generation. A key advantage from an environmental perspective is that they make use of waste heat, from sources such as electricity generation, waste incineration and industry. Heat networks are defined as a system of supply pipes with a centralized heat generator that serves multiple domestic or non-domestic dwellings The scale of the combined heat requirements of all these dwellings also helps the inclusion of renewable energy sources, which may be more difficult and costly to achieve at the individual dwelling level. Overall, their flexibility to use whatever heat source is available, makes them easier to decarbonize in the future.Other key benefits for Local Authorities and Housing Associations have been the elimination of individual gas appliances within dwellings. This has significant cost savings reductions for Local Authorities and Housing Associations where gas landlord checks are eliminated, along with the issues associated with access. City developments Today City Councils and developers are opting for heat networks to provide the heating and hot water for new redevelopment projects. The largest of these is the ambitious Leeds Heat Network, which once completed is set to be one of the UK’s largest new heat networks, connecting 1,983 council homes and numerous businesses in Leeds. The first scheme under the City Region’s District Heating program, the green initiative looks to reduce carbon emissions for the area as well as energy bills for the residents living there.The green initiative looks to reduce carbon emissions for the area Even more innovative is how the network will connect to the Leeds Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility, which burns black bin bag waste to generate heat. In theory this would make the network fully sustainable. There will be back-up support from efficient Bosch Commercial & Industrial boilers, which will only be switched on when required, say the colder months where the need for heat is higher. Climate change targets An hour’s drive away from Leeds is the city with one of the most ambitious climate targets in the UK. Manchester intends to be carbon-neutral, climate resilient and zero waste by 2038 – 12 years before the overall UK net zero 2050 target needs to be hit.To help achieve its ambitions, work has been taking place on the Manchester Civic Quarter Heat Network (CQHN). Manchester hasshown the versatility of heat networks due to the number of commercial buildings it will support The project will generate low-carbon power, heat and hot water for initially six council buildings and some residential properties with the possibility for the network to grow and connect further buildings across the city centre. Some see district heating as a solution solely for residential purposes, however Manchester have shown the versatility of heat networks due to the number of commercial buildings it will support. The project itself has also given Manchester a new landmark, the impressive ‘Tower of Light’, which incorporates the five flues from the technology powering the network. This beacon not only represents the city’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint but also the innovative nature of district heating. Heating Battersea Power Station The final example lies in the Capital and may be one of the most famous developments in the UK at the moment. Battersea Power Station is not only one of the most iconic landmarks in London, but also the center piece of one of the most high-profile, large scale mixed-use redevelopment projects ever undertaken in the Capital.Battersea Power Station is a high-profile, large scale mixed-use redevelopment project The project involves the development of a district heating and cooling network, with a two-level underground energy centre – one of the largest of its kind. This complex heat, cooling and electricity network will continue to expand as the project continues to undergo its development stages. Looking ahead These are just a few examples of cities taking advantage of district heating and its many benefits, but near all cities in the UK have multiple heat network projects underway. Like with most innovations, smaller urban areas should then follow suit. The importance of district heating will no doubt become more and more prominent. Its ability to power whole areas and multiple buildings can already help efficiency levels, however its potential may be even greater in the future. One key energy transformation that is looking more and more likely is the decarbonization of the gas grid to hydrogen blends and ultimately 100% hydrogen. If these can be utilized in heat networks then the benefits will definitely put us and UK cities in a good place as we continue our journey towards net zero.
Artificial intelligence (AI) provides a tool to deliver significant savings and dramatically reduce carbon emissions, enabling a self-operating building. Because of AI’s ability to be proactive in buildings, rather than reactive, a 25% reduction in total energy costs is possible, along with a 20-40% decrease in carbon footprint. "Our mission is to fight climate change by bringing innovation and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to the built environment, making buildings smarter and greener," said Jean-Simon Venne, Co-Founder and CTO of BrainBox AI. BrainBox AI BrainBox AI is at the forefront of a new era in building automation and a leader in the green building transformation. Located in Montreal, Canada, BrainBox AI offers a technology that combines deep learning, cloud-based computing and autonomous decision-making to support a 24/7 self-operating building. BrainBox AI’s solution enables the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system in a building to operate autonomously, in real-time. “Some 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions originate from buildings, and HVAC systems are responsible for over 50% of those emissions. BrainBox AI is comprised of experts in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), data science, real estate, HVAC and energy efficiency, all working to create a better future,” said Jean-Simon Venne. AI technology thrives in logical environments AI technology thrives in logical environments, and HVAC systems are extremely logical" Venne adds, “AI is very stable and super predictive. AI technology thrives in logical environments, and HVAC systems are extremely logical. A fan, for example, will continuously have the same behavior, over and over again.” Due to HVAC’s predictability, AI can study a building and learn how it operates, identify each potential improvement opportunity, and then act on them. AI is also able to monitor a multitude of data points at once, so it’s more reliable in optimizing HVAC systems in real-time than humans alone. Communicating with HVAC controls Communicating with HVAC controls is a requirement of applying AI to the HVAC market. There are over 700 control languages currently being used for HVAC control. Looking at the big picture, about 20 of those 700 languages make up 80% of the market. BrainBox AI’s system focuses on the 20 or so dominant languages. Part of their minimum requirements for system integration is that the HVAC system must speak one of those 20 languages. Autonomous real-time cloud connection BrainBox AI also recently launched a driver for the Niagara Framework, the first AI application to use an autonomous real-time cloud connection to the platform, which is the leading open platform for the building automation market. Their Niagara driver allows the platform to connect to a building’s management system (BMS) through the cloud, thus decreasing the connection time to less than 30 minutes. “If you’re going to use AI, you really need to use the cloud, in order to use the proper computing power,” said Venne, adding "Using a cloud system makes it easier to store and share information. For example, if you’re a building owner, the cloud system can give the building owner visibility into all the data being collected and a holistic view into what’s happening in their buildings.” Autonomous AI HVAC system BrainBox AI's customer AMP Capital is now the first organization to install an autonomous AI HVAC system" Venne further stated, “BrainBox AI's customer AMP Capital is now the first organization in the world to install an autonomous AI HVAC system across its managed real estate portfolio. But how does an automated system adapt to the changing and possibly competing comfort preferences inside a building? It's an excellent question.” The AI solution is all about predictive behaviors, but that sometimes requires compromise. There will always have be someone who prefers to work in 60 degrees and someone else who prefers to work in 80 degrees. "Because BrainBox AI collects thousands of real-time data points such as outside temperature, sun/cloud positioning, fan speed, duct pressure, heater status, humidity levels, occupant density and more, we’re able to report a 60% improvement in occupant comfort thanks to an improved respecting of set points," adds Venne. Airborne Virus Mitigation Program In the age of a global pandemic, airborne viruses, such as COVID-19’s SARS-CoV-2, can be re-circulated non-deliberately throughout building HVAC systems, creating a liability to building owners and operators. To help proactively mitigate the potential spread of pathogens and improve air quality in buildings, BrainBox AI provides commercial buildings access to its Airborne Virus Mitigation Program (AVMP). Through AVMP, BrainBox AI instructs the HVAC system to operate as instructed to minimize the spread of contaminants and improve air quality, based on CDC and ASHRAE guidelines. BrainBox AI’s system focuses on the 20 or so dominant languages Supporting buildings with partial HVAC system shutdown Additionally, many commercial buildings are significantly less occupied than usual during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. BrainBox AI supports these buildings by proceeding with a complete or partial shutdown of their HVAC system(s). BrainBox AI’s cloud-based technology optimally instructs the networked HVAC system to decrease its operations to a minimum, enabling up to 30% in energy cost savings. BrainBox AI's go-to-market strategy is comprised of three different parts. First, the company has its own sales force, which is deployed mainly in North America, but also in APAC and EMEA, where they can sell directly to building owners and operators. The company also uses reseller partners for commercialization, which are usually system integrators or local integrators. These partners are typically already selling controls to different building owners and operators in regional markets. Now, they have the opportunity to provide their clients with BrainBox AI. They are also using this strategy globally. Partnerships with OEMs BrainBox AI is developing partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) Lastly, BrainBox AI is developing partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to help support their individual strategies of implementing artificial intelligence into their existing HVAC and controls products. “We’re just now starting to really see the impact that automating building HVAC systems can have,” said Venne, adding “Buildings have been non-adaptive for such a long time, but now with building automation, we’re really starting to change that. Right now, AI thrives on predictability, based on the thousands of data sets it’s able to collect. That being said, the weather keeps changing outside, with global warming continuously on the rise; building mechanics should react and adapt to that.” AI building blocks Venne further stated, “Humans are also not robots, they gather in different areas in the building and don’t always have the same patterns. It's a challenge to enable and train AI to be more adaptive in that sense. AI building blocks eventually will aggregate together and give more intelligent insights, ultimately creating a more intelligent city and eventually a much more intelligent world that can be operated by AI, under the watchful eye of humans.” “A misconception is that this technology will ‘steal’ jobs from humans and replace them,” stated Venne, adding “Naturally, that makes people a bit scared. Right now, every building has only a few people operating the building system. They are so frequently called to change an office’s thermostat that utilizing AI actually makes their job easier.” Controlling and optimizing building HVAC systems We’re reaching a very interesting time in terms of AI and technology in general" He adds, “By allowing BrainBox AI to control and optimize the HVAC systems in buildings, the building operators are able to spend more time running the building, rather than flipping switches and changing temperatures. We’re reaching a very interesting time in terms of AI and technology in general." Venne further stated, “All my life I was given limitations, hearing 'no, we can’t do this, the computers can’t handle this, etc.’ But right now we’re reaching the point where we’re not limited by our technology capabilities, we are only limited by our imagination." He concludes, “It’s just a matter of breaking that imagination wall to find a way to create even more value with the existing technology today. Things are accelerating and we’re going to need to move forward. We shouldn’t be scared, but rather embrace it and accelerate forward.”
Millennials have been shaped by their experiences growing up with technology and by their heightened awareness of the environment. These facets of a consumer market dominated by millennials will guide the future of the HVAC market over the next several years. Each generation reshapes markets in their own image. In the case of millennials, trends and behaviors are influencing how companies design new solutions, including those in the world of HVAC. Sustainable solutions and personalized experiences Millennials place a premium on sustainable solutions that reduce their environmental impact Millennials place a premium on sustainable solutions that reduce their environmental impact. Millennials also want more personalized and convenient experiences, and they value enhanced customer service support. New systems designed with a personalized and ecological mindset are amplifying efficiency and convenience and giving unprecedented control to create a truly connected home for technophilic millennials. Future HVAC products to cater to millennials The challenges of catering to millennials is one of the trends LG Electronics has listed among those likely to impact the HVAC industry in the months and years ahead. The trends are directly guiding LG’s product mix, including WiFi-enabled indoor units and LG’s Smart ThinQ application, which put the ability to control a home’s comfort system at the consumer’s fingertips. Here are some other trends to watch, listed by LG Electronics, when looking ahead to 2021 and beyond: Greener solutions on the horizon: Beyond appealing to millennial sensitivities, green solutions have a long list of their own advantages. Industry providers are responding by creating more sustainable and efficient products to enable customers to reduce their carbon footprints. LG Inverter air conditioning systems are designed to minimize efficiency losses, provide sustainable energy savings and contribute to lower lifecycle costs. More efficiency and reduced costs: Geothermal heat pumps have quickly proven themselves to be an alternative energy source, offering both warming and cooling capabilities. They are a highly effective and renewable energy source that can transfer heat from the ground to cool and heat buildings. Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions: Connecting HVAC to the electrical grid highlights the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Air-to-water heat pumps and other solutions can generate cooling and heating from one unit, thus furthering the transition from natural gas, fuel oil or coal. Fulfilling the need for new employees: The next generation of HVAC engineers and technicians requires training programs. LG Air Conditioning Academies provide training and skills programs around the world to empower the new generation of HVAC professionals. The impact of COVID-19: The pandemic has created a need for greater safety precautions within the HVAC industry. Remote working trends and additional precautions will likely continue to impact the industry even post-pandemic. LG HVAC systems are evolving to better aid the road to recovery and to prepare for the new normal with optimal solutions for the ever-changing challenges.
Elon Musk has proclaimed that HVAC is his ‘pet project’ and has even suggested a timeline: ‘Maybe we can start working on that.’ As a high-profile business magnate, industrial designer and engineer, Musk is CEO of automobile company Tesla, whose goal is to accelerate the use of sustainable energy. Tesla is on the cutting edge of technologies that can transform how we use energy, and Musk believes the benefit of that technology will translate well into home HVAC systems. Heat pump technology “You can make a way-better home HVAC system that is really quiet and super-efficient and has a way-better filter for particles,” Musk said at a recent Tesla presentation. “It works very reliably.” A feature would be use of a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Musk’s vision is to adapt heat pump technology the company uses for its Model Y automobile to home HVAC systems Musk’s vision is to adapt heat pump technology the company uses for its Model Y automobile to home HVAC systems. “It’s tiny. It’s efficient and designed to last 15 years. It operates in all conditions from the coldest winter to the hottest summer,” says Musk. The small units can be ‘stacked’ to provide a super-efficient and scalable home HVAC system, says Musk. A lot of work has already been done for a ‘kick-ass’ system, he adds. Cheap solar power A further benefit would be the ability of home systems to communicate with Tesla cars so that the home HVAC system ‘knows’ when residents are coming home and can dial in the settings for heating and cooling to make the house comfortable when they arrive. Because HVAC systems are such big users of energy, it makes sense that Tesla would target the industry as a means of promoting greater use of sustainable energy. Musk says that wind and solar comprise 76% of new electricity in the United States this year, and Tesla offers the cheapest solar power in the U.S. – only $1.49 per watt for a solar system installed on an existing roof. As a technology disruptor, however, Musk mentions that scaling the manufacture of products is 10 times more difficult than creating a prototype – suggesting a probable delay before any HVAC product that Tesla introduces would become widely available. From Electric Vehicles To HVAC When Tesla entered the electric vehicle market, it helped to jump-start investment in electric vehicles even among traditional automakers. Might the visionary company have a similar impact on the mature HVAC industry? Specifically, would Tesla’s delivery of a reliable and efficient product spur faster innovation for HVAC in general?? Efficiency is one of the main competitive factors among HVAC equipment suppliers" Senior Capital Equipment Analyst Kyle Peters of The Freedonia Group thinks so: “Efficiency is one of the main competitive factors among HVAC equipment suppliers, and it’s no surprise that most have embraced technological change to make their systems more efficient and appealing to customers.” Tesla’s entry into the market would accelerate that trend, says Peters. product development “While existing manufacturers are already developing the next generation of filtration technologies to maintain their hold on the industry, its considerable growth potential is likely to attract new industry participants like Tesla,” says Gleb Mutko, another Freedonia analyst. In addition, Musk’s entry into the HVAC market will likely increase investor interest in HVAC and filtration systems and provide impetus for additional product development. Based on the innovation and investment we are seeing in the HVAC market already, it’s a sure bet the industry will look very different in the next decade. Increasingly, it also appears that Elon Musk will be playing a part in that transformation.
Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS), the exclusive provider of Zoned Comfort Solutions® and a supplier of Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) heating and cooling systems, is pleased to support METUS distributor, S. G. Torrice Company, in its donation of Mitsubishi Electric equipment to Homes For Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives. S. G. Torrice Company supplied equipment to outfit Homes For Our Troops’ control/equipment room in their Taunton, Massachusetts office. Specially adapted homes The new equipment replaces a malfunctioning 8-year-old system. The donated Mitsubishi Electric equipment included: (1) A/C Outdoor unit (PUYA12NKA7) (1) Wall-mounted Indoor Unit (PKAA12HA7) (1) Low Ambient Wind Baffle (WB-PA4) (1) Wall-mounted Remote Controller (PAR-40MAAU) “Homes For Our Troops does incredible work for injured veterans by building specially adapted homes so they can rebuild their lives,” says Stephen Torrice, president, S. G. Torrice Company. “We’re honored to support an organization whose focus is to support those who have sacrificed their previous way of life for our country.” Financial planning services Since 2004, Homes For Our Troops has been building and donating custom homes nationwide for injured post-9/11 veterans so they can rebuild their lives. These specially adapted custom homes enable veterans to focus on their recovery in a safe environment, and regain their freedom and independence. Veterans also receive financial planning services for long-term success after the home is built. S. G. Torrice Company is a full-service, family-owned HVAC distributor founded in 1958 by veteran Samuel G. Torrice. The company is headquartered in Wilmington, Massachusetts and has 12 locations serving residential and commercial HVAC dealers in Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
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.
Boiler manufacturers Baxi Heating and Worcester Bosch have installed hydrogen burning boilers at ‘HyStreet’, in specially built demonstration houses at DNV GL’s specialist test site at Spadeadam in Northumberland, United Kingdom. The site has been used to complete over 200 tests, researching and proving the safety of converting homes and gas networks to hydrogen. The project is part of H21, a Network Innovation Competition project sponsored by Ofgem. Northern Gas Networks is leading the project with partners Cadent, Scottish Gas Networks, Wales & West Utilities, National Grid, DNV GL and the Health and Safety Executive’s science division. Combi boilers installed H21 is demonstrating how existing natural gas networks can be re-purposed to safely carry 100% hydrogen H21 is demonstrating how existing natural gas networks can be re-purposed to safely carry 100% hydrogen. For the first demonstration, both Worcester Bosch and Baxi Heating have installed combi boilers into the houses on HyStreet. The boilers have been developed as part of the UK Government-funded Hy4Heat program, which is also supporting the development of hydrogen-ready gas cookers, fires and gas meters. As around 85% of UK homes currently rely on natural gas for heating and hot water supply, re-purposing the natural gas grid for use with hydrogen would mean a low disruption option for householders to decarbonize their heating, without the need for extensive changes to their existing system. Tackling carbon emissions due to home heating Tackling carbon emissions resulting from home heating is utterly essential and one of the most difficult challenges in achieving net-zero emissions, given the need to make adaptations in almost every home. A growing library of studies and reports conclude that all viable scenarios for the UK to hit net-zero include hydrogen as a vital component. That is why Government and industry are working on various projects across the United Kingdom. Wide deployment of hydrogen boilers Tim Harwood, Northern Gas Networks’ Project Director for H21, said “Seeing the boilers in situ at Spadeadam is an exciting step in the journey to realizing our goal of a gas network transporting 100% hydrogen to customers. The hydrogen boiler looks and feels just like the natural gas version we all have today and is just as user-friendly, showing that a transition could cause minimal disruption to customers.” Dan Allason, Head of Research and Innovation, at DNV GL’s Spadeadam Research and Testing, said “Eight out of ten homes in the UK use a gas boiler to heat their homes and provide hot water and replacing all gas boilers with electric alternatives could be extremely costly. Both of the boiler manufacturers have developed options with their hydrogen ready prototypes to assist the switch to a lower carbon alternative.” Proof of concept and public acceptability We are delighted to be able to demonstrate this innovative new technology in a real-life setting in the UK" Dan adds, “Having these fitted to the HyStreet demonstration project at Spadeadam gives gravitas to the proof of concept and public acceptability of appliances such as these. The boilers are one of the first important steps.” Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Baxi Heating, said “This is an important step forward on our hydrogen journey and we are delighted to be able to demonstrate this innovative new technology in a real-life setting in the UK.” Zero-carbon alternative to natural gas Carl Arntzen, the Chief Executive Officer of Worcester Bosch commented “It is fantastic to see our prototype hydrogen boiler running successfully at this demonstration site. The boiler has operated seamlessly in its first month of operation and continues to provide both heating and hot water.” Carl adds, “It proves that hydrogen gas has great potential as a zero-carbon alternative to natural gas for heating and hot water in the UK and beyond. These initial tests are incredibly encouraging and will hopefully give key decision makers confidence to deploy hydrogen gas as a fuel for the future.”
Axiom Solutions are a professional building consultancy and project managers offering high quality project work through to design and build construction solutions for clients. Adcock was tasked with a challenging project from a long-standing customer looking to install Air Conditioning, utilizing heat recovery VRF systems and Heat Recovery Ventilation systems for fresh air supply throughout a 5 story building in Hatton Garden, London. The project had a limited available footprint for condensers and due to the building being in a conservation area, the roof top only allowed for mini VRF type condensers. The client had a preferred industrial aesthetics scheme in mind, which led us to design a total of 11 VRF heat recovery systems using Samsung 360 circular cassettes for the majority of the open plan areas. The company also installed the standard ducted and high wall mounted units. heat recovery ventilation systems All services (pipework and cables) were contained on galvanized trays at high level throughout, and all on show. Adcock Refrigeration and Air Conditioning then designed a total of 8 Samsung ERV heat recovery ventilation systems to accompany this industrial look and installed it throughout with oval ductwork all on show. They also carried out ductwork modifications to the existing toilet extract system to allow for a new floor plan and additional showers. Installation comes with additional 7 year warranty for complete peace of mind.
Accommodating significant fleet growth and modernization, one of North America’s renowned refrigerated trucking companies, KLLM Transport Services, is adding 1,400 new Utility trailers refrigerated by Carrier Transicold units, equipped with the eSolutions telematics platform and TRU-Mount solar charging systems. Carrier Transicold is a part of Carrier Global Corporation, a globally renowned provider of healthy, safe and sustainable building and cold chain solutions. “Thanks to continued investments to replace and upgrade our equipment and technology, we are, today, a 57-year-old company with one of the youngest, most advanced fleets on the highway,” said Jim Richards, President of KLLM, a Top-3 refrigerated carrier, headquartered in Richland, Mississippi. Carrier Transicold refrigeration units “As a premier service provider, with more than 6,000 refrigerated trailers and domestic intermodal containers serving 48 states and Mexico, it is vital that we continuously renew our fleet,” said Richards, adding “This latest investment helps us keep our fleet new and modern for improved service, less downtime and to provide our customers with the advantage of the most current technology.” The new Carrier Transicold systems include 1,325 X4 7500 single-temperature trailer refrigeration units to be deployed by KLLM, and 75 Vector 8600MT multi-temperature units to be used by KLLM’s Dallas-based Frozen Foods Express (FFE) business. All refrigeration systems will be installed on 53-foot Utility 3000R insulated trailers by Carrier Transicold and Utility Trailer dealer, Southern States Utility Trailer Sales Inc., also located in Richland. eSolutions telematics platform Carrier Transicold’s eSolutions platform helps refrigerated transporters operate more efficiently by improving visibility of their cold chain assets and intelligently providing a centralized data stream about their transport refrigeration units (TRUs) and cargo. In addition to supplying critical data, such as temperatures, location and movement, the eSolutions platform will provide two-way control as well as analytic and diagnostic information about its refrigeration units. TRU-Mount solar charging system Carrier’s TRU-Mount solar charging system helps maintain the charge of the refrigeration unit battery Carrier’s high-performance TRU-Mount solar charging system helps maintain the charge of the refrigeration unit battery, which supports the eSolutions telematics system, even when the refrigeration unit is off. “The fact that the eSolutions system is integrated with the Carrier Transicold units is very important to us,” stated Jim Richards, adding “It will give us new abilities to download data and upgrade over the air, including our IntelliSet profiles, something we are certainly excited about.” IntelliSet feature software application The IntelliSet feature is a software application included with Carrier Transicold’s APX refrigeration unit controllers that allows custom configuration of multiple refrigeration parameters to create profiles based on specific commodities or customer preferences. With the eSolutions system, IntelliSet configurations can be selected remotely, and parameter updates can be done over the air rather than manually, saving time and resources. For additional details about Carrier Transicold’s transport refrigeration units, eSolutions platform and solar charging options, turn to the experts in Carrier Transicold’s North America dealer network.
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.”
Round table discussion
Sustainability has been a core concept in the HVAC industry for decades. Environmental concerns often drive product innovation, for example. However, environmental challenges persist and there is ongoing pressure on the industry to respond responsibly. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What steps is the HVAC industry taking to address climate change and sustainability?
New technologies continue to drive change in the HVAC market. HVAC’s image as a mature and stable industry can overshadow the high level of innovation taking place. Meeting environmental challenges and creating more cost-efficient systems are among the forces fueling the change. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What will be the next big product trend in the HVAC market?