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.

  • In the Pipeline: District Energy and Green Building

    Feature Article

    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.

  • Passive Survivability: A New Design Criterion for Buildings

    Feature Article

    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.

  • Heat-Pump Energy Recovery Ventilation Gets an Update

    Product Review

    Build Equinox and Minotair Ventilation Inc. (MVI) have updated their heat-pump-based energy recovery ventilation systems, providing better control of humidity, heating, and cooling in a smaller footprint.

  • Overcooled Offices Impair Thinking

    News Brief

    New research shows a warmer setpoint combined with personal fans saves energy while maintaining occupant comfort and performance levels in tropical climates.

  • Façade as Ventilation: Moving beyond Open Windows

    Product Review

    AirFlow Panels supply air and recover energy on commercial building façades, improving air quality while reducing energy and space requirements.

  • No More Condensation on Chilled Beams

    Product Review

    Semco’s Neuton pump module could simplify installation of chilled beams, eliminate condensation problems, and provide improved zone control.

  • Air-to-Balcony-to-Water "Bridging" Heat Exchanger


    Heat and cool totally go where the arrows point. Always. But before you rely on this detail, check the date we published it.

  • Greenest of the Green Energy-Saving Products from Greenbuild

    Product Review

    The Greenbuild 2015 expo featured some exciting innovations, including a DC-powered “net-zero energy zone.”

  • White Roofs in Cold Climates a Mistake, Says LCA Study

    News Brief

    While roofs with solar panels are a plus, researchers suggest white roofs in Canada do more harm than good because of steep heating penalties.

  • New Refrigerants, Less Global Warming


    HFOs usher in a new era of refrigerants and foam insulation blowing agents with low global warming potential.