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Cleaning Condenser Coils: A Commonly Neglected Practice

Posted on 4/9/2014 12:26 PM by Richard P. Fennelly

Condensor CoilsCommercial buildings of all types contain various plug-in cooling appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, display merchandisers, vending machines, and ice machines. All of these appliances contain a condenser coil unit which is responsible for transferring the heat content of the air originally in the cooling enclosure to the atmosphere. Over time, these coils collect dirt and debris, killing the efficiency of the appliance.  Unless cleaned on a regular basis, every two months or so, one or more of the following can happen:

  1. Almost always, the appliance will consume more electric energy – about 5% to 10% for refrigerators and 15% to 20% for freezers.  This is an unnecessary yearly cost of about $100 to $200 per unit on a yearly basis. Multiply this by the number of units in the establishment, and it can easily amount to thousands of dollars.
  2. The appliance’s refrigeration system will run hotter and at higher pressures, ultimately causing compressor failure, leading to an expensive repair or replacement costs.
  3. The life of the appliance is often compromised leading to more frequent replacement costs.
  4. Inefficient operation of the appliance can compromise the steady temperature level needed in the cooled enclosure, leading to product spoilage with additional costs and safety issues.

How to Clean Condenser Coils

A preventive maintenance program where condenser coils are periodically cleaned is often not performed, even though manufacturers uniformly advise that it be done. Since these units are located in indoor setting, the use of large amounts of water and cleaning chemicals, useful for roof top coil units, is not applicable. 

Facility managers can use a combination of compressed air, to blast debris off of the coils, and a capture device to contain the debris. Typically, industry professionals use a set of wet towels draping the coils, a box lined with a wet towel, or a large plastic garbage bag placed adjacent to the coils. 

Instituting a preventive maintenance program that insures that self-contained condenser coil units are cleaned no less than on a quarterly basis will produce bottom line energy savings for the owners of the plug-in cooling appliances containing such units. 

Richard P. Fennelly is director of product development at Coilpod.



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Three Reasons Why Cargo Containers Will Save the Planet

Posted on 4/1/2014 9:26 AM by Leslie Horn

Exceptional Green Living on Rosa Parks
Rendering of the Exceptional Green Living on Rosa Parks development in Detroit. Courtesy of Three Squared.

From hotels and private residences to office complexes and multifamily dwellings, cargo container construction has been an innovative building alternative to standard building practices since the mid-2000s. With 600,000 to 700,000 cargo containers sitting idle in and around the U.S. and approximately 20,000 to 23,000 cargo containers arriving daily, there is a surplus of resources for this type of construction. What makes cargo container construction a popular alternative to traditional building?

Exceptional Strength and Durability

High-gauge steel is used to manufacture these containers, providing a higher level of energy efficiency not seen in other building methods. Standard containers used for structures are 20-foot units that hold 38,000 pounds (19 tons) and 40-foot containers that have a maximum weight capacity of 44,000 pounds (22 tons). These are built to be stacked up to seven containers high during transit over rough seas, so they are an extremely strong and durable metal.

A cargo container is designed to withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, saltwater, and anything else that Mother Nature throws its way, including many natural disasters. There is hardly a better unit to use as a building block for durable structures.

This type of construction is a “no-brainer” fit for creating underground shelters, safe rooms, and housing for those rebuilding after natural disasters. Reusing existing materials also means no need to deplete the precious natural resources to create super-strong shelters.

Dramatic Time Savings

Employing this unique method of construction can eliminate 50% of the time required for traditional stick built construction methods. Typically, time savings are seen in the framing stage. Using cargo container construction methods, framing is completed in days versus the weeks or months necessary for stick built construction. Quicker construction means lower carrying costs and reduced liability insurance costs. With a faster turnaround, projects are completed on time or ahead of time.

A Cost-Effective Solution

Construction costs for cargo container-based structures are an average of 30% of other building methods. Cost savings are typically passed on to the building owner who is usually inclined to use those savings to enhance the interior finishes.

Since insulation is the single largest factor affecting a building's energy efficiency, improved insulation can make a big difference in end costs for facility managers. Unique insulation options are available for this type of construction to ensure amazing levels of heating and cooling savings without the bulk.

There are a lot of different and exciting things with these types of building blocks. They can economically meet the needs of multifamily and mixed-use facilities. Only the sky, and your imagination, is the limit to constructing attractive, green-alternative cargo container structures.

Leslie Horn is CEO of Three Squared, Inc.



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3 Considerations for EV Charging Stations

Facilities should consider EV infrastructure as part of a larger sustainability or energy efficiency strategy, not just an independent green project. If you’re ready to accommodate electric vehicles on your property, remember that one size doesn’t fit all. Consider the following factors as you evaluate different options to ensure a successful transition to EV charging.

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Bad News Birds: The Cost of Bird Damage

Pest birds cause unexpected wear-and-tear on building exteriors. Facility managers must either budget thousands to clean up after pest birds, or implement a permanent bird control program and save time and money long-term.

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Keep Your Property a No-Fly Zone

As the weather continues to heat up, flies become very active. They can congregate around trash bins, cluster around windows, and take up permanent residence in your kitchens. Instead of reacting with chemical treatments right away, an integrated pest management (IPM) approach focuses on proactively managing pests through sanitation and facility management. Use these tips to address fly issues in a sustainable manner.  

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Building Maintenance and Pest Bird Damage: A Security Issue?

When it comes to building maintenance, pest bird control is sometimes treated as an after-thought. In other words, limited attention is given to a couple of perching seagulls until the entire flock has staged a coup and facility managers are scrambling to control and cleanup after the winged usurpers. However, what if we look at pest bird damage the way we do security issues? If there were teenagers loitering on the building premises – disturbing customers, making noise and leaving their trash behind for you to clean up, how would you ha ...

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Stay Cool with Window Film

Windows can be responsible for 30% of energy waste in buildings, according to the DOE. Learn how you can cut down on heating and cooling costs, improve daylighting, and increase occupant satisfaction with a variety of window films.

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Reduce Energy Use with Demand Response Options

With demand response (DR) and curtailment programs, building owners and managers can keep tenants cool and comfortable while taking advantage of financial rewards and reducing their energy use.

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Education, Engineering, and Enforcement

Education, engineering, and enforcement, also known as "The 3 E's" of fire prevention, are a hot topic in almost any fire trade magazine, website, and blog alike.

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What do Facility Managers Need to Know?

Facility managers today are expected to understand their company’s core business strategies and contribute to the bottom line — not only by reducing facility costs

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The Time is Right for Building Energy Efficiency

Making our buildings more efficient is vital to battling climate change, plus it’s just good business. Energy efficiency bridges the economy and the environment by saving money, producing jobs, reducing carbon pollution and creating much-needed economic activity.   President Obama said as much in his recent State of the Union speech while issuing a challenge to Americans to take control of their own energy future and improve the environment through increased use of clean energy.   “I’m also issuing a new goal for Amer ...

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Virtual Assessment versus On-Site Audit: What’s the Difference?

With the increasing focus on finding solutions that reduce building energy consumption, efficiency remains the most cost effective way to deliver savings.  The challenge most energy managers face, however, is figuring out which buildings have the best potential for savings and then identifying the combination of measures that are most appropriate for each site.  This problem is exacerbated over a large portfolio.  Consider that very high potential buildings can have 40% or more savings potential, whereas low potential buildings can hav ...

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