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.

  • Top-Performing Pellet Stoves
    May 29, 2008

    Product Review

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

  • Matrix Total Home System Offers All-in-One Efficiency
    January 29, 2009

    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.

  • The First Practical Heliostat
    March 26, 2009

    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.

  • Active Chilled Beams: Saving Energy and Space
    March 31, 2010

    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.

  • High-Efficiency, Variable-Speed Pumps from Wilo and Grundfos
    August 30, 2010

    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.

  • Cooling Giants Introduce Smaller Thermal Storage Units
    February 28, 2011

    Product Review

    Trane and Carrier team up with Ice Energy to bring thermal energy storage to the mainstream. Distributing chilling loads will be a crucial part of upgrading the grid to more easily incorporate renewable energy.

  • Innovations in Solar Air Heating Systems
    June 1, 2011

    Product Review

    Transpired solar air systems from Enerconcept and Matrix Energy provide two new fossil fuel-free methods of preheating ventilation air in commercial buildings.

  • Next Up in Heat-Pump Refrigerants: Carbon Dioxide
    July 28, 2013

    Product Review

    Japanese manufacturer Mayekawa is leading the charge with three CO2-based products for commercial buildings.

  • The First Practical Heliostat
    March 9, 2009

    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.

  • New Ground-Source Heat Pumps Saving Energy and Dollars in Commercial Applications
    August 3, 2014

    Product Review

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