As everyone becomes more concerned with the fragility of our environment, research into sustainable practices and energy efficient technologies have become growing industries. Whether technology actually fuels commercial consumer buying habits or the other way around, many people are conscious that purchasing energy efficient products is a sound buying practice.
In fact, at the recent Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington1., speakers noted that energy efficiency is a driver for a variety of technological innovations, as well as for many policies and practices. Supporting the importance of sustainable practices and environmental awareness, the Australian Energy Efficiency Council2. has just handed out awards for excellence to a number of companies, who are considered to be leaders in using innovative solutions to reduce electricity costs and increase efficiency.
In addition, the Australian Building Codes Board3. (ABCB) has a plethora of resources for building and upgrading both residential and commercial buildings using sustainable, energy saving techniques, as well as materials and products. Clearly, energy savings and finding more efficient ways of using our energy are topical subjects in Australia and around the world.
Which brings us to the subject of commercial heating, air conditioning and ventilation, and the question of whether these HVAC systems are really energy efficient? After all, since around 70% of electricity usage in Australian commercial buildings4. is due to heating, cooling and ventilation, the efficiency of these systems is of concern to everyone.
Optimising the use of commercial heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems.
Some of the simplest strategies to reduce the energy consumption of HVAC systems in commercial buildings is to build more energy efficient buildings; to optimise the temperature and humidity of a building, ensuring that occupants are comfortable all year round. This strategy uses set points for both the internal temperature and for the humidity levels, so that the heating or air conditioning is only utilised when these set points are reached. This is a far better way for heating or cooling a building than having the system working 24/7.
Other strategies include relocating HVAC systems, selecting the right units for the space, upgrading the units, ensuring ongoing maintenance, changing or resetting thermostats and modifying the ventilation systems. All of which can be used to reduce energy consumption and increase the efficiency of existing systems.
Future proofing commercial heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems.
With continued research and innovation, technology is rapidly rising to the occasion, designing increasingly more efficient heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems, and reducing the electricity costs of commercial buildings accordingly.
Currently, rooftop packaged air conditioning units are becoming more popular, due to advanced features that reduce energy consumption and increase the reliability of these systems. Active solar thermal systems can also be used for heating buildings, by pumping cold internal air over solar heated water and then using this warmed air to heat the interior of buildings.
Advances in the computerised control systems of HVAC systems also provide not only more precise control of the internal environment, but also predictive diagnostics and cost effective integration with other building services. On top of all of these innovations, there are also new low emission refrigerants coming onto the market that can increase energy efficiency and reduce electricity costs of commercial air conditioning units.
When you add all of these technological advances to the improvements in commercial building designs, with all of the opportunities for improved energy efficiency in heating, ventilation and air conditioning, it is clear that many companies already benefit from significant savings in energy consumption and capital expenditure on their HVAC systems, over both the short and long term.
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- Greg Mazurkiewicz. August 22, 2016. The News. Energy Efficiency is Helping to Drive the Economy.
- Daniela Vrljic. November 16, 2016. Energy Efficiency Council. Energy Efficiency Leaders Applauded At National Awards.
- Australian Building Codes Board. 2016. Resource Library.
- Origin Energy. 2016. Energy Efficiency Fact Sheet: Heating, ventilation & Air Conditioning.