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.
Thermal energy storage uses ice to shift daytime cooling loads to nighttime, when electricity costs are lower. You may be able to reduce the size of chillers as a result, saving money and energy and lowering the environmental footprint of a building
Ductless split systems using heat pumps and variable refrigerant flow offer an energy-efficient alternative to conventional heating and air-conditioning systems for a variety of settings, from homes to hotels and schools. Three major manufacturers-Daikin, Mitsubishi, and Sanyo-offer the greatest variety of products.
Greenhouse gas emissions associated with residential energy use account for a fifth of all emissions in the U.S. Retrofitting existing houses to achieve a two- to three-fold reduction in energy use is necessary if we are to achieve the emissions reductions scientists say are required for avoiding catastrophic climate change. Here's a look at how it can be done.
Very common in northern Europe, district energy systems use a network of buried, insulated pipes to distribute centrally produced steam, hot water, or chilled water to heat or cool multiple buildings. These systems can make use of waste heat from power generation (combined heat and power) or renewable fuel sources to help reduce the environmental impacts of buildings and communities.
Buildings and their occupants are vulnerable to threats ranging from storms and rising sea levels to accidents and terrorism. In this feature article, EBN describes how to design and construct buildings to maintain livable conditions in the event of extended power outages or loss of heating fuel or water.