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.

    Loading...
  • High-Efficiency, Variable-Speed Pumps from Wilo and Grundfos

    Product Review

    Advanced, variable-speed, "smart" pumps from the German company Wilo and the Danish company Grundfos offer significant energy savings for hydronic heating systems and other circulation systems.

  • Active Chilled Beams: Saving Energy and Space

    Product Review

    Active chilled beams use a combination of chilled water, finned heat-exchanger coils, and ventilation air to induce air flows that supply cooling and heating in commercial buildings.

  • The First Practical Heliostat

    Product Review

    Practical Solar has introduced a simple heliostat system to reflect sunlight into buildings for lighting and space heating; future applications will include water heating and electricity generation.

  • The First Practical Heliostat

    Product Review

    Practical Solar has introduced a simple heliostat system to reflect sunlight into buildings for lighting and space heating; future applications will include water heating and electricity generation.

  • Matrix Total Home System Offers All-in-One Efficiency

    Product Review

    The Matrix Total Home System from NTI is an energy-efficient mechanical system that includes forced-air and hydronic heating as well as energy recovery and ventilation in one space-efficient unit.

  • Top-Performing Pellet Stoves

    Product Review

    High-efficiency pellet stoves from Quadra-Fire and Harman Stove Company offer heat from a renewable source with low particulate emissions.

  • Coolerado: Evaporative Cooling Without Added Humidity

    Product Review

    As an indirect evaporative cooler, the Coolerado provides cool air without adding moisture. Its innovative technology also delivers lower temperatures than conventional evaporative coolers, and it's much more efficient than conventional central air-conditioners.

  • Enertia Double-Envelope Home Still Has Problems

    Product Review

    Although its passive solar design is sound, the Enertia double-envelope home's energy performance claims may be overstated and its design presents fire risks.

  • Cold Climate Heat Pump Redux

    Product Review

    The two-stage high-capacity cold-climate heat pump that was introduced in 2004 and then discontinued in 2005 is back, and from more than one company.

  • Climate Energy Brings Combined Heat and Power Home

    Product Review

    The idea of combining electricity generation with the production of useful heat-referred to as combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration-has long been attractive. Now, after many false starts, a viable residential-scale CHP system is about to enter the market.