Cool Thoughts on HVAC

Jan. 3, 2002
Industry suppliers offer tips and trends on the next year in heating,

In response to Buildings readers’ queries about new directions in heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as building automation systems (BAS), the editorial staff directed a questionnaire to leading suppliers of comfort and control systems asking for their input. Selected excerpts follow.

On the Web

Facility managers can expect to see the Internet play a larger role in the management of their facilities. The variety of web-savvy products and services is increasing dramatically, offering new ways to monitor the performance of building systems. This includes using web browsers, PDAs, and Internet-connected cell phones from anywhere to check the status of a building. Interoperable products, such as BACnet and LonWorks, will become more and more mainstream, as well as more easily integrated into comprehensive control systems.

— Comfort Systems USA, Tempe, AZ (

In Transition

In 2002, facility professionals will face uncertainty in the market and must pay close attention to the types of controls they are receiving. Many major HVAC equipment companies are transitioning to new control lines. These control lines promise compatibility with standard protocols currently offered in the market; however, they most likely will not be compatible with the current controls on the site. Therefore, they can expect to pay additional money for integration of these controls to their system. Furthermore, since these HVAC equipment companies are in transition, facility professionals may receive a mix of control types on a single job, and the jobs will take longer to commission.

    Integrated Systems, Siemens Building Technologies, Buffalo Grove, IL (

Environmental Awareness

The power to control our indoor environment makes all the difference in the way we feel on the job, in the classroom, at home, and on the go. We also know that heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration are much more than issues of comfort and process. We recognize the urgent need to maintain a responsible balance between the comfort we create today and the world we live in tomorrow. Carrier has identified six specific areas that directly affect how we, as a world manufacturer, balance our customers’ needs with the need for responsible consumption: indoor air quality, sound, air distribution, refrigerant, product efficiency, and size/material reduction. Once we have reached a goal in one of these areas, we set our environmental standards even higher for the design and engineering of new products.

— Carrier Corp., Syracuse, NY


Alternative Cooling

Facility managers will be required to lower the cost of energy through conservation, alternative energy sources, and increased efficiency of available energy, while simultaneously providing building occupants with the same level of comfort and convenience. The astute manager will recognize that cheaper energy is available at night and that Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems enable him/her to take advantage of those cheaper rates for cooling commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings. The operating principle of TES differs from traditional cooling systems because it does not rely on high, power-consuming chillers operating at peak demand periods. Instead, chillers are used during off-peak periods when rates are cheapest to form ice inside a series of … tanks.

    Calmac Manufacturing Corp., Englewood, NJ (

Development Drivers

Four major trends are affecting the design and application of HVAC and Building Automation Systems in commercial buildings, and they are driving the development of products and services by York International. As we enter 2002, we see the major trends as:

  • The critical need for energy efficiency, along with energy reliability and flexibility.
  • Urgency of indoor environmental quality, including air quality, comfort, and sound levels.
  • Demand for open-protocol (and smarter) controls at the equipment level.
  •  Importance of maintenance and retrofit options as a difficult economy throttles investment in new capital equipment.

— York International Corp., York, PA (

Matching Needs

Facility professionals should expect to see a variety of solutions become more prevalent within the building automation industry. More and more companies are offering integration solutions, particularly in regards to BACnet, or BACnet to other protocols. Products that pass BACnet testing will soon be wearing the BTL mark, greatly helping assure interoperability between products. Different systems within the building will be easier to integrate than before. Manufacturers will continue to offer more products that embrace new technologies, such as web browsers, wireless mobile devices, high-speed LANs or WANs, enterprise solutions, real-time energy monitoring, graphical engineering, and operating tools. In short, there will be more and more ways to look at a facility and design systems that match the needs of the facility operator, utilizing technologies that have not been previously available.

    Alerton Technologies Inc., Redmond, WA (

A Warm Temp Warning

Computers, networks, communications and office equipment will shut down when the temperature rises, crippling daily operations. Back-up power generators typically provide enough power to run emergency lighting and critical systems, such as computers during a power outage, but do not have enough power to run central air-conditioning. [After the frightening reality of blackouts and brownouts in 2001, facilities professionals should either prepare their facilities for the possibility of warm office temperatures, uncomfortable personnel, and the interruption in work processes due to disabled computer and telecommunications equipment] – or be prepared with a back-up cooling system.

— MovinCool, Long Beach, CA


Safer Buildings

Worries about bioterrorism are causing facility professionals to take a serious look at what might be done, both inside and out, to make buildings safer. We expect this trend to continue in 2002 and beyond. Many facilities people are incorporating proven UVC technology into their bioterrorism defense plans. We recommend looking at UVC as part of a total engineering control strategy that includes air filtration, specific ventilation practices, and other preventive measures.

    Steril-Aire Inc., Cerritos, CA (

Total Control

The controls industry, though focused on system controls in the 1990s, has begun progressing towards total control solutions and will continue to do so through the next decade. This progression toward a solutions focus is prompted by the convergence of a variety of trends including: building environment comfort; energy costs; environmental concerns; risk management; and enhanced computer, Internet, and wireless communication technology to building automation systems.

Facility managers, in particular, will need to focus on increasing their level of building controls, evaluating higher efficiency products, and thinking of service in a different, more proactive manner. Increasingly service will be used to keep a building “in tune” so that it operates efficiently during the life of the building. The advent of digital controls really opens the opportunity to ensure that a building does operate as intended.

    The Trane Co., LaCrosse, WI (

Internet Standards

Our industry will see a dramatic increase in the use of web technologies during the coming year. Web-based control systems have “come of age” and are being used in all types of building automation systems, from small single-building HVAC systems to vast nationwide networks that integrate multiple campuses into a unified automation system. In addition to giving operators the freedom to access their building controls from any computer on the network, the use of web standards allows a wide array of Internet “gadgets,” such as WAP-enabled cell phones and palm-held computers to become powerful tools in a facility manager’s arsenal. The use of web standards will significantly increase the interoperability of control systems. Where older technologies, such as DDE and OPC, allowed a limited amount of data exchange to be “added on” to a building automation system, the new systems are designed from the ground up to use such Internet standards as TCP/IP, XML, and SOAP.

— Automated Logic Corp., Kennesaw, GA (

Zone Conditioning

Energy concerns will have greater impact on HVAC selection. Zone conditioning continues to be the most efficient air-conditioning option.

— Mitsubishi Electric/HVAC div., Lawrenceville, GA


Bioterrorisms and HVAC

The potential threat of bioterrorism using anthrax has raised the question of what can be done with the air filtration system to increase protection of building occupants. Many building managers are investigating upgrading to HEPA filters. This can pose a tricky situation from an HVAC operating standpoint, as well as substantial costs for system upgrades. First, commercial and industrial HVAC systems do not seal adequately to provide HEPA filtration. There is too much leakage around the filters. Second, HEPA filters operate at a far higher pressure drop than ASHRAE filters. Commercial and industrial air-handling systems are not designed to handle this level of resistance.

— AirGuard Industries Inc., Louisville, KY


Cost Conscious

Energy efficiency will be a rapidly growing requirement to address the issue of increasing power costs. Broad USA, in conjunction with electricity-generating equipment manufacturers, the engineering community, and the Department of Energy, are testing a prototype combining cooling, heating, and power plants for commercial applications. Expected results will provide facility professionals a pre-engineered and modularized approach towards doubling energy efficiency, reducing costs, and increasing reliability over conventional grid-based systems.

    Broad USA Inc., Hackensack, NJ (

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