Heating & Cooling

District heating systems provide economies of scale in large cities like Copenhagen.
Photo: Bill Ebbesen. License: CC BY 3.0

Energy-efficient HVAC design is a fundamental of green building, for good reason:

  • The scale of the issue: HVAC is responsible for more than a third of energy use in commercial buildings in the U.S.

  • The scale of returns: Smart designs can easily save upwards of 40% of that energy, often with strategies that offer instant or short “payback.”

  • The human impact: Discomfort from spaces that are too hot or too cold, and lack of adequate ventilation, are an epidemic. Good design that fixes these problems supports healthier, more productive occupants.

Don’t make the all-too-common mistake of thinking of HVAC design separately from building envelope design. Over-glazed buildings lead to oversized mechanical systems, increasing costs on both fronts. A tight, well-insulated envelope may cost a bit more but can pay for itself with less mechanical equipment.

Heating & Cooling

Deep Dives

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  • The Cost of Comfort: Climate Change and Refrigerants

    Feature Article

    Refrigerants with very high global warming potential can negate the energy-efficiency benefits of many HVAC systems, including popular heat pumps.

  • Are Cool Roofs Green? The Answer’s Not Black and White

    Feature Article

    Roofing choices are complicated by heating tradeoffs, climate effects, and condensation, but proponents say reflective roofs still make sense in most climates.

  • Passive Solar Heating

    Feature Article

    Using the sun for most of a building's heating needs is in the DNA of green building. But in an age of superinsulation, does it still make sense?

  • Solar Thermal Hot Water, Heating, and Cooling

    Feature Article

    By creating heat instead of electricity, solar thermal achieves three times the efficiency of photovoltaics at a lower price.

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    Loading...
  • The Cost of Comfort: Climate Change and Refrigerants

    Feature Article

    Refrigerants with very high global warming potential can negate the energy-efficiency benefits of many HVAC systems, including popular heat pumps.

  • Are Cool Roofs Green? The Answer’s Not Black and White

    Feature Article

    Roofing choices are complicated by heating tradeoffs, climate effects, and condensation, but proponents say reflective roofs still make sense in most climates.

  • Passive Solar Heating

    Feature Article

    Using the sun for most of a building's heating needs is in the DNA of green building. But in an age of superinsulation, does it still make sense?

  • Solar Thermal Hot Water, Heating, and Cooling

    Feature Article

    By creating heat instead of electricity, solar thermal achieves three times the efficiency of photovoltaics at a lower price.

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