Variable Refrigerant Flow Systems (VRF or VRV) - Expert Commentary

Importance Of Preventative Maintenance For Commercial Property Owners And Managers
Importance Of Preventative Maintenance For Commercial Property Owners And Managers

We visit the doctor for yearly check-ups and take our vehicles to a mechanic for maintenance and oil changes. The same idea applies to an HVAC system. An HVAC system can run around 2,000 hours per year and is a building system that is constantly expending energy. Without preventative maintenance, it is much more likely that a building owner could be overlooking silent issues that could cause a system to break down long before it should. Preventative maintenance is catching on for a reason. A 2021 survey from The Colling Media Snapshot asked homeowners across the US about preventative maintenance. The survey stated that during the last time they had an HVAC service, 41% of homeowners had a preventative maintenance inspection of their HVAC system. The importance of preventative maintenance is resonating with homeowners and commercial property owners are no exception. Below are three reasons why commercial property owners and managers should keep preventative maintenance top of mind: Tenant Satisfaction Preventative maintenance can affect the satisfaction and the length of stay of residents For commercial property owners, tenant satisfaction is a top priority. Preventative maintenance can affect the satisfaction and the length of stay of residents. The Rental Protection Agency states that repair problems are the third most common complaint in residents nationwide, which includes heating and cooling. Busy season for contractors occurs during the hot summers when outside temperatures are extreme and homeowners are excessively running their units. The typical HVAC contractor carries a backlog of 2-3 weeks’ worth of work during the busy season. Summers without air conditioning can be miserable for residents and detrimental to a building’s reputation and retention if system failures are not fixed quickly enough. Staying on top of preventative maintenance is a proactive strategy to mitigate emergencies. Capital Planning Planning for routine services is important for all HVAC owners and operators as neglecting preventative maintenance can devastate a budget. This is especially true if you are a commercial property owner or manager as overlooking preventive maintenance could cause failure to multiple HVAC systems and exponentially increase the cost of repair and throw a property owner even further out of budget. In addition to reducing last-minute emergencies, keeping the maintenance and replacement history of a building’s HVAC systems is important when it is time to sell a commercial property. How well a system is maintained can affect the sale price of a property, especially as buyers from the coasts expect up-to-date HVAC systems. Data-Driven Decision Making  IoT coupled with sensors and wireless networks provide perspective into both predictive and prescriptive analytics In commercial properties, HVAC systems consume more than 30 percent of the total energy use of a building. The Internet of Things (IoT) coupled with sensors and wireless networks provide perspective into both predictive and prescriptive analytics that can assist in decision making. With this data, building owners and maintenance techs can understand which systems are consuming the most energy, which ones are the most energy-efficient, and can identify when systems are breaking down. These actions provide a runway of time to proactively fix system failures before the cost to repair is greater than the cost of replacement.

HVAC Efficiency Enabled By The Smart Buildings Of The Future
HVAC Efficiency Enabled By The Smart Buildings Of The Future

In today’s world, we spend almost 90 per cent of our time indoors, in our workplaces, leisure areas and our homes. It is no secret that the built environment has been relatively slow in its embrace of information technology and automation. According to KPMG’s ‘Building a Technology Advantage’ report, fewer than 20 percent of construction and engineering executives, and major-project owners said they are re-thinking their business models, so as to incorporate new technology. Yet, it has now become a necessity, as energy efficiency becomes a more prominent topic discussion, which is leading to sweeping changes across all aspects of our lives and none more so than in the built environment. Commitment to net-zero emissions Governments are beginning to impose tighter restrictions on building use, energy consumption and emissions. Policymakers around the world are committing to net-zero emissions targets, with more than 60 countries pledging to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. For example, the European Union (EU) is committed to become a carbon-neutral economy, with net-zero emissions by 2050 and all new buildings within the EU must be constructed as near-zero energy buildings. Meanwhile, China has legislated that at least 30 per cent of all new buildings must be ‘green’. Smart technology to better manage HVAC Technology can help optimize energy consumption and create energy efficiency in our buildings Given this new trend towards energy efficiency in the real estate sector, smart technology is needed to better manage HVAC and energy consumption. Buildings currently contribute 40 per cent of global carbon emissions, a problem exacerbated by extreme weather conditions across the globe, which increases demand for electricity, as more people rely on air conditioning for cooling. Technology can help optimize energy consumption and create energy efficiency in our buildings, alleviating many of the problems that we have today. Technology enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) can optimize comfort and safety, while providing remote operability and access to everything from HVAC systems to security cameras. At the same time, data collection and integration with cloud-based services allow for powerful energy efficiency measures. Designing and operating Smart buildings The concept and operation of smart buildings is not new. Architects and developers have been installing separate systems to control lighting and HVAC for decades. Later systems have evolved and helped building managers control access to different areas of a site, mitigate fire risk and protect against power surges. What is new is the addition of web-based platforms, in order to allow these verticals to integrate seamlessly with each other. The building of tomorrow is achievable today, using the latest in automation intelligence to control lighting, air-conditioning and heating. With these digital solutions, everything can be controlled remotely and allow for complete control, whenever it is needed most. Increased use of smart technology The first step in managing HVAC energy is to understand exactly how much is being used and where it is used. With this information at hand, managers can highlight areas for improvement, which in turn will help a building become more efficient and ultimately, save money. Another step in managing HVAC energy is including smart technology alongside your system Another step in managing HVAC energy is including smart technology alongside your system, as it can minimize maintenance costs. Predictive fault-finding can save maintenance time and labor, as well as minimizing downtime for expensive equipment or services. It is estimated that smart-enabled predictive maintenance is three to nine times cheaper than a traditional reactive approach. Tenant and occupant satisfaction are often also higher, as systems that experience failure can be identified, repaired and re-booted quickly. Smart building systems Smart building systems, such as ABB i-bus KNX ClimaECO and ABB Cylon BACnet solutions, can combine HVAC in one holistic solution, from central control and management of heating and cooling systems, down to room-level automation. Smart systems simplify the implementation of intelligent automation in modern buildings and using pre-installed algorithms, can make autonomous decisions on things, such as adjusting lighting and HVAC levels, to reflect time of day, external environment, occupancy levels or other variables. Additionally, data collection and data analysis enabled by IoT allows for increased knowledge and better predictions of use. Working with a smart building, which is interconnected, can act and learn on this data, while providing remote access to data and analytics for human oversight. The ROI of smart technology implementation In addition to legislation driving change, being ‘smart’ provides other real benefits for developers and owners. As a building adapts to the demands of its users or the goals of its managers, it can save energy, cut emissions and reduce energy costs. More effective and efficient use of power can save money, quickly repaying initial technology expenditure Comparing energy savings to the falling cost of installing a basic smart management system, smart buildings immediately prove their worth. According to HSBC, if a smart system delivered an energy cost saving of 25 per cent, on an installation cost of US$ 37,500, for a 50,000 sq. ft building, the annual savings could be as much as US$ 23,000, giving a payback period of less than two years. More effective and efficient use of power can save money, quickly repaying initial technology expenditure. HVAC and lighting alone can account for about 50 per cent of energy use in an average commercial building, but by incorporating smart automation, managers may see decreased energy costs of up to 30 to 50 per cent. Leading the fight against climate change Technologies, such as IoT and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are crucial to help us in the fight against climate change. These technologies help users, owners, operators and facility managers interact with the buildings of the future effortlessly, with personalized comfort and maximum efficiency. Artificial Intelligence and IoT is constantly in a state of evolution, as more applications for the technology are discovered. Given the ever-changing nature of technology, the possibilities for smart buildings in the future are endless.

Data-Driven Digital Solutions To Optimize Energy Efficiency In Buildings
Data-Driven Digital Solutions To Optimize Energy Efficiency In Buildings

Over the last decades heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems became significantly more energy efficient. This is immensely important as they are one of the largest energy-consuming loads in commercial and residential buildings. Smooth performance of the systems requires careful installation, thorough cleaning, and regular maintenance. Running an HVAC system (energy) efficiently is challenging because of constantly changing variables: people entering and leaving a building, changing temperatures and seasons which affect the heating, cooling, and air quality immensely. Research by the European Commission found that buildings are responsible for 40% of all European energy consumption. Emission reduction goals This has a significant environmental impact and will become more expensive over the next centuries while countries work on their net-zero and emission reduction goals. How can the HVAC industry, in cooperation with the green tech sector, ensure less energy consumption and fewer CO2 emissions? Are any other energy-saving options available? Energy-focused digital twins can be used for the planning, operation, and optimization of systems Following, three data-driven solutions for more energy efficiency in buildings are presented. To understand and operate a technical system it is necessary to have a precise understanding of the system’s parameters and boundaries. HVAC systems are installed in buildings. Buildings, although varying in size, purpose, and layout, can be described by a set of parameters called a digital twin. Energy-focused digital twins can be used for the planning, operation, and optimization of systems. Machine learning algorithms In HVAC applications, a digital twin can be used to design and operate equipment more precisely. It helps to detect defects quicker or even before a failure appears. This saves maintenance costs and reduces potential downtimes. The biggest potential of energy-focused digital twins might be the possibility to use those data sets to train machine learning algorithms. This allows the use of artificial intelligence to optimize HVAC systems. It can raise the energy efficiency of these systems and significantly reduce costs and CO2 emissions. Machine learning offers the HVAC industry immense possibilities. Tracking energy usage on building and room level generates a valuable data set that can be used to operate HVAC systems more energy efficient. Tracking room utilization AI can also consider the exact number of people present in the building when regulating the temperature One example of the use of AI to achieve more energy efficiency is temperature control in buildings. No matter what time of day or night, nor outside temperature or season, the AI algorithm can optimize the temperature in the building according to those variables. AI can also consider the exact number of people present in the building when regulating the temperature. This is important as the number of people and their body heat change the room temperature significantly. The system reacts to all variables by heating more or cooling down further. While it is possible to count people while entering and leaving a building, it is also possible to track their room utilization. The algorithm can not only notice the changing temperatures in rooms caused by body heat. Overall energy consumption It is also able to track where the lights are turned on and off and at what times. Possible reoccurring patterns in those actions can be identified by the algorithm. All this information can be considered when adapting building and room temperature. Tracking people’s actions gives AI detailed information to incorporate into the optimization processes to achieve more energy efficiency. In the same manner, air quality and humidity can be optimized. Especially in commercial buildings, the ventilation is often running too high Especially in commercial buildings, the ventilation is often running too high. Over ventilation is a large waste of energy. If fewer people are in the building it should be lowered to reduce the overall energy consumption. Especially in a work environment, both temperature and ventilation are of high importance, as it has a direct impact on the productivity of most people. Smart control system A smart control system will process all available data on the energy usage in a building and adjust the HVAC system accordingly, in real-time. The more information it can gather for a longer period, the better the system becomes. This saves energy, emits less CO2 and reduces costs. A manual adjustment will never be as efficient, as the number of variables is too large. Additionally, AI can identify any irregularities occurring in the HVAC system and alert the responsible person. Predictive maintenance ensures less downtime. Voltage optimization based on a building’s energy consumption data is a solution that can also enhance energy efficiency in buildings. It can be applied to reduce costs, electrical energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Optimizing the voltage level in real-time means reducing it to a lower level, based on the consumption of the building. Highest savings level The CE certification shows that fluctuations of voltage can be tolerated by a device Electrical energy is supplied to buildings by grid operators. They are supposed to supply 230 V. However, a constant voltage level cannot be guaranteed. The voltage fluctuates. Therefore, all electronic devices must be able to work within those fluctuations. They allow a range of plus and minus 10%, which is compulsory by law. The CE certification shows that fluctuations of voltage can be tolerated by a device. 10% of 230 V allows the reduction of the voltage level to a minimum level of 207 V. At this level, all devices in buildings are guaranteed to run smoothly. Every volt above 207 V can thus be considered more than necessary for the devices to work properly. This means, that at the highest savings level, all devices still work within their specifications. Lower electricity costs But with a lower voltage, the energy consumption is lower. Consuming less energy results in a reduced carbon footprint and lower electricity costs. The advancement of technology and availability of higher resolution data already allows building managers to look at optimizing HVAC systems for better energy efficiency, especially in newer buildings where those systems are installed right away. Consuming less energy results in a reduced carbon footprint and lower electricity costs This provides less energy consumption and less CO2 emissions. As buildings and their HVAC systems are consuming large amounts of energy which emits tons of CO2 every year, enhancing the energy efficiency in buildings becomes crucial on the way to net-zero. Energy-Saving solutions HVAC systems must work with the highest energy efficiency possible, considering that the weather extremes we are experiencing all over the world (colder winters and hotter summers) will increase the demand for them, if not make them indispensable. But these solutions are not only available for new buildings. Existing buildings can also be retrofit by their owners and operators to take advantage of the emerging data-driven trends in the green tech industry. Energy-saving solutions like voltage optimization can significantly reduce buildings’ carbon footprints. Combing several different data-driven energy-saving solutions will reduce the carbon emissions in the building sector significantly.

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Sila Services LLC Acquired Fahrenheit HVAC To Deliver Exceptional Home Comfort Solutions
Sila Services LLC Acquired Fahrenheit HVAC To Deliver Exceptional Home Comfort Solutions

Sila Services LLC recently acquired Fahrenheit HVAC, adding Fahrenheit's commitment to reliably professional same-day HVAC repairs and installations to Sila's already impressive portfolio of companies. Fahrenheit has provided outstanding and affordable care to its customers for over three decades. Sila is an HVAC industry veteran, with an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction, and has been delivering exceptional home comfort in heating, AC, plumbing and electrical services, throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, since 1989. Home comfort expert "By extending our reach and adding the highly trained Fahrenheit technicians' services to our already premier packages, we're taking Sila to the next level," said Lou Pellegrini, CEO of Sila. "We're extremely pleased to be welcoming the Fahrenheit HVAC family into ours and there's a reason we are both household names in the Southeastern Pennsylvania area. Because we treat your home like we treat our own – ensuring you have efficiently running systems and invaluable peace of mind." Sila's factory-trained and certified technicians serve over 500 homes a day With over 7000 ‘A’ ratings on Angie's List, earning its prestigious super service award for multiple years running, Sila is the complete home comfort expert. A preferred partner of Carrier, Google Nest, Lennox, Mitsubishi, Unico, and other manufacturers, Sila's factory-trained and certified technicians serve over 500 homes a day, with 100% satisfaction guaranteed every single time. Saving customers money Repairs: Dependable and prompt repairs that ensure customers never have to wait too long to get back to living life in comfort. Tune-Ups and Maintenance: Prevention is key to keeping heating and AC systems in peak shape, ready for extreme weather. Annual Sila tune-ups include a 15-point safety inspection and filter change. Maintenance plans keep systems running reliably and efficiently – preventing breakdowns and saving customers money. Replacements and Installations: When replacements or new installations are necessary, Sila helps its customers select the perfect solutions for the home or office that fit nicely into any budget with attractive financing. Go Green: For those considering greener options for heating and AC, Sila offers geothermal systems that use natural, sustainable energy from the ground.

LENNOX EMEA, Standard Unit Coolers Compatible With A2L Refrigerants
LENNOX EMEA, Standard Unit Coolers Compatible With A2L Refrigerants

A number of standard unit coolers from Friga-Bohn, which supplies a wide range of market-leading refrigeration solutions to the food industry, are fully compatible with A2L refrigerants. The unit coolers support use with both new A2L refrigerants such as R1234yf, R454C, and R455C, as well as existing HFC refrigerant solutions. As a result, a single unit can provide for present and future requirements, reducing inventory for wholesalers and easing selection choices for installers. The market for unit coolers is changing. The F-Gas regulation means that a ban is in place for new installations using refrigerants with a GWP (Global Warming Potential) of more than 2500. Furthermore, other refrigerants are having their availability limited by diminishing production quotas, which is consequently affecting prices. Refrigerant producers have to fall within a regulation-defined limit of Teq CO2 (carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes) per year. So opting to produce a refrigerant with a high GWP means less product availability, leading to a higher price. CO2 refrigerant Friga-Bohn can confirm that a number of its unit coolers offer compatibility with new A2L refrigerants CO2 has become the preferred refrigerant in high-capacity refrigeration installations due to its low GWP and good thermo-physic properties. However, for small/medium-capacity systems, the choice is not so obvious. CO2 is of course an option, but alternatives such as A2L refrigerants are very attractive as their constituent technology is similar to HFCs while offering a far lower GWP. To ensure simplicity of choice for installers, Friga-Bohn can confirm that a number of its unit coolers offer compatibility with new A2L refrigerants, as well as existing refrigerant solutions. This approach differs from other market systems, which are only suitable for one or the other. Wholesalers, therefore, benefit as they only need to stock a single type of unit cooler-one capable of meeting the requirements of both applications. A2L-compatible coolers The A2L-compatible coolers available from Friga-Bohn include MR and MH series ceiling units, NTA dual-discharge units, and 3C-A cubic units. Typical applications include cold rooms in cafes, hotels, bars, restaurants, local shops, minimarkets, and supermarkets, with options available to suit both positive and negative temperature conditions. Despite their low GWP (R1234yf, R454C, and R455C have a GWP of less than 150), A2L refrigerants carry a ‘slightly flammable’ security classification. For this reason, all Friga-Bohn unit coolers using A2L refrigerants have been subject to a comprehensive risk assessment, with INERIS, the French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks, providing full approval and validation. A2L refrigerants provide the opportunity to reduce environmental impact and comply with the F-Gas regulation A risk analysis is also necessary for each installation to ensure safety for users and the general public; a process that should take into account the entire refrigeration system as well as its environment over the product life cycle. Here, Friga-Bohn can offer several newly developed tools to help simplify this process for installers. The availability of these tools ensures that the ‘slightly flammable’ classification of A2L refrigerants should not be an obstacle in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Transitioning to lower GWP refrigerants In summary, A2L refrigerants are a good solution when transitioning to lower GWP refrigerants. They provide the opportunity to reduce environmental impact and comply with the F-Gas regulation for small/medium capacity installations. However, changing to A2L does require some technical knowledge. Here, Friga-Bohn is ahead of market competitors – the company is fully prepared and ready to help wholesalers and installers with any assistance they may require in helping the food sector achieve a safe and effective switch to a future based on low-GWP refrigerants. Friga-Bohn can also help wholesalers to educate installers about this important industry shift.

IWBI Announces New WELL Performance Rating Focused On Using Dynamic Human And Building Performance Metrics
IWBI Announces New WELL Performance Rating Focused On Using Dynamic Human And Building Performance Metrics

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) announces the upcoming launch of the WELL Performance Rating, a new designation rewarding building owners and operators for using measurable and validated building and human performance metrics to gain insights into health and well-being of the people inside and enhance conditions in their spaces based on those insights. The rating will consist of features drawn from the WELL Building Standard (WELL) along with new pathways and beta features that will be informed by the IWBI Performance Advisory, WELL Performance Testing Organizations (PTOs) and a host of industry pioneers in smart building technologies. Smart building technologies “The industry has done a great job of capturing environmental building performance metrics on site – energy and water use, for example – but we need to be able to marry these eco-friendly indicators with health performance metrics to enable balanced choices about the health of planet and the health of people,” said Rachel Hodgdon, President and CEO of IWBI. The industry has done a great job of capturing environmental building performance metrics on site" “With this incredible and diverse array of partners, advisors and other contributors, we are confident that the new rating will unlock and accelerate the use of smarter, more integrated approaches to improve and enhance well-being and performance.” The WELL Performance Rating will be comprised of WELL features specific leadership thresholds air and water quality, thermal comfort, acoustics, lighting and experience, helping projects both quantitative and qualitative to track, monitor and improve the performance of both the buildings and the people inside. Stand-Alone designation IWBI’s global network of 42 WELL Performance Testing Organizations, IWBI member organizations and its broader community of over 18,000 WELL Accredited Professionals (WELL APs) and registrants in more than 100 countries will support customers in their pursuit of the WELL Performance Rating. This new designation will add to a growing suite of WELL ratings that includes the WELL Health-Safety Rating and the forthcoming WELL Health Equity Rating. Each can be achieved as a stand-alone designation or milestone along the way to WELL Certification at Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level. For WELL Portfolio participants, achieving these ratings will contribute to their WELL Score. IWBI members contributing to the development of the WELL Performance Rating include Aircuity, Carrier, CETEC, Cognian Technologies, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Kaiterra, Lennox International, Schneider Electric, SGS, Thornton Tomasetti and Trane Technologies. Creating healthy buildings We have led the industry in HVAC and building health and are currently pursuing certification" What industry pioneers say about the WELL Performance Rating: “Like WELL, we have long been committed to taking a holistic approach to the full spectrum of factors that create healthy buildings for people, including air quality, safety, and [functional] conditions such as thermal comfort, lighting, sound and environmental issues that contribute to better cognitive function and well-being.” “We have led the industry in HVAC and building health and are currently pursuing certification under the rigorous WELL v2 standard at our own world headquarters. Carrier is proud to support the WELL Performance Rating, which will provide people with confidence to return to the things and places they love and missed,” said David Gitlin, Chairman and CEO, Carrier. Innovative building solutions “At Honeywell, we’re not waiting for the future, we’re making it by creating innovative building solutions that foster and improve well-being and unlock positive outcomes at scale. By collaborating with IWBI on the WELL Performance Rating, we’re ushering in a new era of building performance, bridging building health while being conscious of environmental impact, and equally important, inspiring innovation and spurring market transformation that advances occupant well-being and productivity,” said Vimal Kapur, President and CEO, Honeywell Building Technologies (HBT). At Honeywell, we’re not waiting for the future, we’re making it by creating innovative building solutions" “As we continue to build on our history of more than 135 years delivering smart, healthy and sustainable buildings, we are excited about the opportunity to collaborate on the launch of IWBI’s WELL Performance Rating. The Rating will serve as a powerful accelerant that we know the market needs right now to help us all realize our shared vision for healthy buildings, while also aligning seamlessly with our proven and leading work to improve operating efficiency, boost productivity and advance sustainability,” said George Oliver, Chairman and CEO, Johnson Controls. Pioneering integrated solutions “As we move more decisively and strategically to meet our decarbonization goals in all buildings all around the globe, it’s imperative that we are just as ambitious in seizing the accompanying opportunity to optimize these spaces for the health of the people inside.” “By leveraging the science behind WELL and with today’s launch of the WELL Performance Rating, we are poised to chart a path to remake the buildings of the future and continue to deliver on Schneider Electric’s longstanding mission to pioneer integrated solutions that leverage the power of digitalization to achieve peak performance, efficiency and reliability, all while enhancing occupant health,” said Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman & CEO, Schneider Electric. Improving human experience Now more than ever, people need safer, healthier, and more efficient indoor spaces" “Now more than ever, people need safer, healthier, and more efficient indoor spaces. We focus on helping building owners and operators assess, mitigate and monitor indoor environmental quality to ensure occupants’ well-being and the building’s performance. The WELL Performance Rating helps validate that the right measures are being taken for people to thrive in the spaces where they live, learn, work and play,” said Dave Regnery, CEO, Trane Technologies. “AI and IoT technologies perform at their best when employed to improve human experience. We are proud to collaborate with IWBI through the WELL Performance Rating as we evolve our services to deploy technology-based solutions to address changing market needs. This initiative supports us on our journey to becoming a more sustainable, data-driven company and our commitment to enabling a better, safer and more interconnected world for all our stakeholders,” said Frankie NG, CEO, SGS, WELL Performance Testing Organization. Evidence-Based solutions "IWBI has been instrumental in driving the evolution of building occupant health and well-being, cementing scientific rigor and robust measurable goals as a means to advance building performance. The innovative WELL Performance Rating is set to become another ground-breaking tool,” said Adam Garnys, Principal Consultant Strategy, and Dr. Vyt Garnys, Managing Director & Principal Consultant, CETEC, WELL Performance Testing Organization. “There is new urgency in how we shape, guide and foster advancements in building performance to better align with the science of supporting human health. Through this collaborative launch of the WELL Performance Rating, we are doubling down on that promise of actionable, evidence-based solutions to drive continuous improvement across the key health metrics that help enhance productivity, increase comfort and support well-being,” said Liam Bates, Co-Founder and CEO, Kaiterra, IWBI Performance Advisor.

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