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blogs

Sep 30, 2014

Are You Planning Your HVAC System Correctly?

People in architecture and design,Tips and Utilities


 Architects often do not place enough emphasis on HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems at designing stage; more often than not, it is just an afterthought! 
It is crucial to understand the importance of creating sustainable, self-sufficient structures which is incidentally possible only through an integrated approach. Good HVAC systems are not only a crucial element in a building, they also offers high returns on investments when selected wisely. Since the HVAC equipment are expensive and have a long life, it is difficult to replace an under-performing system without adding a significant amount to the operations cost. 

The performance of the HVAC systems will often depend on the solar orientation of the site, design of the building, choice of roofing, facade etc. Solar gain through windows, air filtration, heat load from artificial lighting will all have considerable effect on the HVAC. There are energy modelling software and consultants with the know-how on the building performance testing industry who can ensure the optimum performance of these systems. It is very important to plan your HVAC system at design stage and even more important to invest in a good software to manage it. These investments will sooner or later be justified by the savings available from load reduction and HVAC savings.

On that note, Archh caught up with Bengaluru-based HVAC consultant and expert Ananth Kumar who shared his knowledge on general industry trends and consumer buying habits.

What is the impact of HVAC on one's utility bills? How can one lower it?
As we know that the majority of the energy consumption in any facility is on HVAC, surprisingly it is close to 50% to 55% on the commercial developments. With lots of development on energy conservation, renewable energy is on the cards nowadays and many companies follow it as a mandate and spend huge on this regard. Keeping this as a major impact in all respects, the sustainability design, energy-efficient design is being practiced now. Even then the utility bills are high due to lots of factors pertaining to operation and maintenance of the system. This can be definitely lowered down by using the intelligent building management system installed for the equipments, proper routine maintenance of all the equipments, seasonal programming of the system operations, maintaining the logs and consistently studying the trends and operating the plant accordingly, using the sensors and automating the equipments etc.

What factors must architects consider while picking the right HVAC system?
In any facility, HVAC plays a vital role; so while designing the building, architects should consider the factors like orientation of the building, selection of the glass, façade, selection of the wall materials, wall insulation if required with all other factors for an energy efficient building. After this phase next shall be choosing the right HVAC systems, each building design is unique so as the HVAC system, one should consider the feasibility of the system for a particular building. Apart from energy-efficient equipment, architects play a major role along with the HVAC consultants to choose the best system. Before concluding on the system, the architects should consider the space availability for the equipments, budget, suitability of the operation and maintenance, standby requirements, zoning etc., so that a proper system can be chosen.

What are the common mistakes made by homeowners/contractors while choosing HVAC systems?
The following mistakes made by homeowners/contractors while choosing HVAC systems are very common:
a. Not standardizing the equipments: handling spares will be an issue
b. Not checking for the feasibility of the equipment for the particular project
c. Selections by the standard parameters, not selecting by the actual parameters of the equipments
d. Not planning the proper operation and maintenance spaces
e. Not maintaining the quality of the installation
f. Cost cutting while selection with compromise of technicalities
g. Considering fit and forget ideas: not anticipating maintenance issues
h. No proper planning the location of the equipments

Give us an overview of the new ecological, sustainable HVAC solutions available in the market.
As we discussed earlier the major impact on the environment is energy consumption, so go greener should be our mantra to conserve energy. There are various Sustainable HVAC solutions available in the market and can be easily adapted to any projects such that we save our environment without compromising on the comfort. The solutions such as high COP chillers, EFF1 motors, EC fans, Variable Frequency Drives, Inverter & Digital Type Compressors, Variable air volumes, hybrid air conditioners, sensors, occupancy sensors for VAVs, chilled beams, etc., are all effective solutions for designing an energy-efficient building and it offers sustainable solutions while improving the overall performance of the building.

About Ananth Kumar: He is the Principal Consultant of Bengaluru-based firm Arete Consulting Engineers and has over 20+ years of experience in the field of Air conditioning and Refrigeration in the areas of design, planning, execution and service. He has worked on diverse projects in various sectors as a consultant, project management consultant, contractor etc. He is also an active member of Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE), Bangalore Chapter.

Follow Ananth Kumar on Archh - http://www.archh.com/m/ananth2020/


Cover image by Getty