A Breezy Solution
Demand control ventilation isn’t a flashy energy efficiency project, but it consistently generates payback under five years or less. Paybacks can also be achieved more quickly if the system incorporates lighting and electrical outlets (vampire energy) controls. For upfront investments, owners can expect to pay less than $100 for occupancy sensors, Nall estimates. CO2 sensors can cost several hundred dollars per unit, adds Lawrence.
“The installation costs for a DCV project vary significantly depending on building size, existing infrastructure, and control requirements. An owner can expect to pay approximately $1,000 to $2,000 per point on average,” Nohra adds.
Nall was recently involved with a renovation project that incorporated DCV by using occupancy sensors. A series of perimeter offices and those adjacent to an atrium were paired with a dedicated outside air system and variable speed fan coils.
Each 160-square-foot office has a two-position damper. The default setting for an unoccupied office delivers 10 cfm of outside air. Anticipating occupant diversity when the office is in use, the secondary position is configured for three guests at 25 cfm.
“This ensures that we’re providing the minimum ventilation for the maximum expected occupancy,” Nall stresses.
Whenever the system senses the room is unoccupied, it can scale back ventilation to 40% of peak flow. The project cost less than $1,000 per office and since the occupancy sensor controls ambient lighting and power receptacles, the payback is under five years. The DCV capability also meets the LEED credit for increasing ventilation by 30%.
Lawrence also oversaw a DCV project at the University of Georgia. The retrofit converted a single classroom, but has seen great success since its installation. Payback was achieved in less than two years and there are plans to adapt more areas in the future.
“Regardless of the actual design standard, energy savings with a DCV retrofit should focus on a comparison to the existing ventilation patterns, even if they do not match current codes or standards,” emphasizes Lawrence. “If a building is not providing ventilation that meets existing standards, then the primary benefits of DCV are indoor air quality.”
Jennie Morton firstname.lastname@example.org is senior editor of BUILDINGS.