Heating & Cooling

District heating systems provide economies of scale in large cities like Copenhagen.

Photo: Bill Ebbesen. License: CC BY 3.0.

OVERVIEW

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.

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  • 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

    Infographic

    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

    Primer

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

  • Sewage-Source Heat Pumps Turn Wastewater to Warmth

    Product Review

    International Wastewater’s heat pumps provide heating or cooling using sewage and don’t require dual plumbing.

  • New Ground-Source Heat Pumps Saving Energy and Dollars in Commercial Applications

    Product Review

    WaterFurnace’s CLW Chiller “geothermal” heat pump also uses excess heat and cooling within a building to provide energy-efficient HVAC.

  • Climate Analysis for Architects

    Webcast

    For a lot of people, computer modeling is synonymous with energy modeling, and climate data is something you just input to your energy model. Kjell Anderson wants you to do energy modeling for your buildings, and he wants you to do it early—as BuildingGreen has advocated—not just for "keeping score" at the end. In this webcast, Anderson will demonstrate tools that are so easy that they can be used on every project regardless of budget or sustainability objectives, typically taking 3 to 5 hours once you have your system down—and almost no time for projects in a city where you have already done an analysis.