Advanced Controls for Rooftop Units Pays Back

A year-long study conducted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of rooftop packaged HVAC equipment at malls, hospitals and other buildings in the USA found, “Commercial buildings could cut their heating and cooling electricity use by an average of 57 percent with advanced energy-efficiency controls”.

The main goal of the campaign,, is to encourage installation of advanced controls for rooftop HVAC units.  PNNL has created a table with typical HVAC unit sizes, operational characteristics and costs to help building owners “weigh the costs” of advanced controls.  For instance building owners could achieve a 3 year payback with an installation of a unit that is 15 tons or less and electricity costs are greater than or equal to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

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ASHRAE: Service Life and Maintenance Cost Database

Free information on equipment service life and annual maintenance costs for a variety of building types and HVAC systems is available through an ASHRAE Owning and Operating database.

According to ASHRAE, “the purpose of this database is to provide current information on service life and maintenance costs of typical HVAC equipment. Engineers depend on accurate owning and operating data to make decisions involving the life cycle and functionality of buildings. However, lack of sufficient up-to-date data makes it difficult to provide a solid basis for those decisions. Previous efforts to collect data through traditional survey methods have produced less than acceptable results.”

Three fields are created, each with a Query that allows an individual to create customizable search criteria:

  • Equipment Service Life Evaluation (here): Creates both lists and summaries of service life data customized to match specific criteria.
  • HVAC Maintenance Cost Evaluation (here): Creates both lists and summaries of maintenance data customized to match specific criteria.
  • Submit HVAC Data (here): The database is open for public data submissions. Registration is required.



Fans account for 80 percent of the so-called “parasitic” load

Fans account for 80 percent of the so-called “parasitic” load according to Michael Ivanovich, director of strategic energy initiatives for the Air Movement Control Association (AMCA) International, in a recent Facilitiesnet article.  In order to address the issue of high energy usage associated with fans there needed to be a better way to differentiate the performance of fans. AMCA has developed fan efficiency grades (FEGs) to help facility managers, engineers and owner identify how efficient is the fan they select compared to industry standard . FEGs is defined by AMCA as “a numerical rating that classifies fans by their aerodynamic ability to convert mechanical shaft power to air power” or in simpler terms, a measurement of peak fan efficiency independent of the motor and drive.  The author also interviewed Tim Mathson of Greenheck who emphasized that the use of FEGs by facility managers when specifying new fans will result in selection of units that operate in the higher-efficiency regions of the fan curve.

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World’s first HVAC rating criteria

“AIRAH hopes the development of the world’s first HVAC rating criteria by Australian industry will have a “profound impact” upon market practices by putting pressure on companies to improve the efficiency of their products and endeavour to make improvements.”

Is the way to create change and movement towards energy efficiency and sustainable marketplace by putting pressure on the manufacturer’s?  Will that illicit the right response?

“The Online HVAC Rating Tool will make use of both quantitative data and qualitative information covering the design, installation and operational phases to rank the performance of different HVAC systems and will “rate, reward and encourage” best practice products on the market.”

I think one component that was left out of this new ranking of performance is the ability to retrofit a unit as well as the disposal and recycling of the HVAC system.  It seems in the US that most equipment is designed with a short life span and that the owner is left with the burden of disposal instead of manufacturer encourage to take back and reclaim.

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New Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus- Inside Look

High Performance Buildings recently published an article on the new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus.  The campus was designed to reflect three key priorities: human environment, the local ecosystem, and a climate neutral future.  Additionally, the new campus serves as a central hub for employees that were previously located in five different offices.  Total cost of ownership was used to determine the major HVAC and water system design specifications.  An energy model of the design specifications versus ASHRAE 90.1-2004 baseline predicted a cost savings of 34% and energy savings of 40%.  The article provides a detailed lessons learned section as well as IEQ, site and water, transportation and materials.  One issue that continually is a challenge in construction is waste management.  This project successfully diverted 96% of the construction waste preventing 15,900 tons of debris from entering the landfill. In the end, the campus won awards for their design from ASHRAE, IES, and LEED platinum certification.


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Interconnecting two different software to maximize building efficiencies

“By working closely with Siemens to jointly test the BACnet integration between the Quantum and APOGEE systems, we are able to provide facility managers with a better user experience and ‘single pane of glass’ for managing their different building systems,” said Mark Jenner, new business alliances director at Lutron. “Instead of disparate pieces of software to manage all of the different building systems — lighting, shading, HVAC, door access, fire/safety, energy metering — BACnet makes it possible to integrate all of the software tools into one, saving valuable time and maximizing efficiencies.”– achrnews

Submetering Leads to Better Energy Management

“To save energy, reduce HVAC loads, and increase guest comfort levels, the Hyatt Regency Houston decided to install window film in 48 southeast- and southwest-facing rooms. To measure heating and cooling savings, the hotel installed submetering to measures HVAC usage in the 48 rooms with window film, as well as in 48 southeast- and southwest-facing rooms without window film. The data from the submeters confirmed that window film installation reduced cooling energy use by 23%, and heating energy use by 25%. Without submetering, this data wouldn’t have been captured to prove that window film was a cost-effective, energy-saving investment that would provide a quick ROI.” –VistaWindow

It is important to note that there are data loggers available on the market for monitoring usage, troubleshooting and measurement/verification.  A submeter tends to be more of a permanent instrument as well as costly.  Additionally, submeters for electric usage require certain existing electrical wiring setup vs. data loggers, one can use a c-clamp and monitor usage of individual equipment.

Outside Air Economizers and Proper operation in Data Centers

“Correctly designed outside air economizer systems can result in significant energy and economic savings for data centers. Without proper attention to the above items, the introduction of outside air can pose additional risks to data center operation and uptime. However, if one takes into consideration these issues, a properly designed HVAC system will yield positive results.  Three issues to pay attention to: 1) Proper Mixing of Outside and Return Air, 2)Temperature and Humidity Changes 3) Building Pressurization”–Robert F. StyWhat about using liquid to cool servers instead of air?

The Growth Path For Zero Net Energy Homes

The Growth Path For Zero Net Energy Homes

“The information age technologies incorporated into a comprehensive solution ZNE home will enable home operations to realize target performance results measured by:
  • Occupant comfort and productivity
  • Cost optimization across a range of options including energy efficiency, onsite generation, grid purchases and use of onsite battery storage
  • Demand avoidance during critical grid-peak time periods
  • Reduced environmental impacts  ”  —By Bill Roth

The article mentions “four components of comprehensive building design” but leaves out an important component: Building Envelope.  A poor building envelope will result in oversizing of HVAC equipment and renewable solutions.  Another key component is education for proper operations and maintenance.  A home maybe designed with technologies to make it more energy efficiency and reduce consumption but if the individual operating and maintaining the technologies/home is not trained there is a potential for problems.

Green Energy Solutions For HVAC & Refrigeration Can Significantly Reduce Electrical Consumption.

“Some of the options include LED LightingEvaporator Fan ControllersECM Fan MotorsEconomizersHigh Efficiency Emerson K5 Scroll Compressors & High Efficiency Emerson XJ Condensing Units. Some options can be used together to achieve even greater energy savings.”– Mitch Byrne