Commercial HVAC: Right-Size and Save
KAALTV, April 29, 2015. Image credit: By Morten Haagensen
When you are planning the multi-million dollar construction or remodel of a commercial building, the cost of HVAC equipment is a relatively small part of your total budget. However, right sizing your firm’s heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system will not only save you money on the initial purchase and installation costs. It will also reduce your HVAC operating budget and improve your profile as a good corporate citizen over the long haul.
Initial Purchase and Installation
Bigger is not necessarily better. Most industrial heating and cooling systems run at less than 50 percent of their capacity as a matter of course. The reason is quite simple: they are oversized to begin with. But why should you waste capital buying and installing equipment that is incorrectly sized? Have your HVAC contractor use accurate calculations according to the ASHRAE Handbook, instead of the more commonly employed “rule of thumb.” Correct size should be slightly above your actual needs — 10-15 percent larger is recommended as a reasonable safety margin. The way to accurately determine size is by performing a whole building analysis, based on the property’s age, intended use, amount of ventilation, and similar factors. “Real world” conditions should be used, which take into account, for example, the amount of heat generated by your office or factory lighting system and machinery, as well as the number of people who will be occupying the facility at any one time.
Plan ahead for eventual expansion by installing a commercial HVAC system that can be modified if necessary. For instance, you might select a system that is capable of operating efficiently at either part- or full-load capacity, or a modular one that allows for the possibility of incorporating additional equipment in the future. Allot space so that supplemental components can be added as required.