In building projects, design is often viewed as an unavoidable step to get the project approved and start construction. However, heating and cooling design offers a unique opportunity to improve energy efficiency and indoor comfort. These are permanent benefits that last for the entire service life of a building.
In residential and commercial buildings, HVAC systems often represent more than 50% of total energy consumption. If these systems are poorly designed in a large building, they can waste thousands of dollars each month. However, the opposite also applies: there is a major savings opportunity by including energy efficiency measures from the design stage.
MDL Solutions is an industry leader in energy efficient HVAC systems, offering products that achieve 12-45% energy savings, according to laboratory tests. Our product selection includes heat recovery ventilation, trench heaters, and fan coils with electronically commutated motors.
Design Recommendations from HVAC Experts
Heating and cooling design is characterized by a wide variety of HVAC options. This means there is flexibility to find the right solution for each building, but choosing among numerous options can also be confusing. Purchasing efficient HVAC equipment is important, but building owners must also make sure they use the right product for each application.
Ideally, an HVAC system should achieve a comfortable temperature, while keeping a suitable indoor air humidity.
- Finding the right temperature can be subjective, since individual preferences vary. However, a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that human productivity reaches its peak at temperatures of 21-24°C (70-75°F).
- Relative humidity should be as close as possible to 50%, and ASHRAE recommends a range of 40-60%. Low humidity causes discomfort, and air pollutant particles like dust and viruses stay airborne for longer. On the other hand, high humidity stimulates the spread of mold and other germs.
Many heating and cooling systems are sized based on rules of thumb. This approach may be tempting to speed up the design process, but the negative consequences are permanent. For example, oversized air conditioning systems create a cold and humid environment that is similar to a refrigerator. This wastes energy in the form of excessive cooling, while making occupants more vulnerable to respiratory diseases.
A professional heating and cooling design offers an adequate temperature and humidity for human occupancy, without consuming more energy than necessary. Ideally, the equipment layout should also be optimized to reduce material and installation costs.
Energy Efficient Options for Heating and Cooling Design
There are numerous options when designing HVAC systems, but some equipment types are characterized by their superior energy efficiency. The following are some examples:
- Hydronic HVAC systems use chilled or hot water pipes connected to air handling units, such as the MDL Verano Horizontal Mini AHU. This configuration can use an energy efficient heat pump to reduce heating and cooling costs, while air handlers use electronically commutated motors (ECM) on fans to reduce ventilation costs.
- Floor mounted heating systems like the MDL Verano Trench Heater are becoming popular in modern building design, since they are barely visible. By releasing heat at floor level and using the natural convection of warm air, these systems save energy while improving comfort.
- Heat pumps can operate in both heating and cooling mode, combining two pieces of equipment into a single unit. The MDL Verano PTAC Heat Pump offers reversible operation, while exceeding AHRI standards and US DOE requirements.
A critical step of the heating and cooling design process is specifying the best equipment for each application. For example, air handlers and fan coils are suitable when a building has multiple zones with centralized heating and cooling units, such as boilers and chillers. On the other hand, unitary systems like PTAC heat pumps are a better option for buildings that are divided into small independent areas, such as apartment towers and hotels.
Regardless of the configuration used by an HVAC design, it will likely have the highest energy consumption among all building systems. To make operating costs as low as possible, selecting efficient equipment for the heating and cooling design is key.
MDL Solutions offers a wide selection of heating and cooling equipment, which adapt to the needs of any type of building. Get in touch with our experts and they can help you select an efficient HVAC solution that meets the needs of your building.