Commercial HVAC systems use a lot of electrical energy. Much of the need is at the peak times of the day when electricity cost is the highest.
High Performance HVAC and Whole Building Design
The National Institute of Building Sciences notes that in commercial buildings located in America, 39% of the electrical usage goes to run HVAC systems. Their recommendation for the most energy savings is high performance HVAC systems combined with whole building design based on comfort zones. Energy savings achievable by using these methods are in the range of 10% to 70%. Other studies from the Institute for Building Efficiency show that by simply maintaining the HVAC equipment properly, the results are savings in the range of 5% to 40%.
Sustainable Energy Sources
Not only is saving energy through efficiency important in HVAC system installation, but also where the electricity comes from is equally as important. The top sustainable energy sources, used to power HVAC systems, in order, include hydropower, solar power, wind power, and geothermal heat pumps.
Statistics Brain Research Institute reports that hydropower provides 9% of America’s energy that comes from 2,400 dams. Big users of HVAC systems, such as the hotel casinos in Las Vegas, benefit from the hydropower coming from the nearby Hoover Dam in Boulder City.
Scientific American reported in March 2015, on the incredible boom in solar power installations in America. In 2014, solar energy grew by 30% or 6.2 gigawatts of added capacity from $16 billion in new investments. Many commercial buildings installed photovoltaic solar panels on their roofs to use the electricity generated for HVAC systems.
Wind power has not kept up the pace with solar; nevertheless there are examples where wind power plays a pivotal role. Huge data centers consume enormous amounts of electricity to run the equipment and to operate the massive HVAC systems to keep the equipment cool. An example of this use of wind power is Facebook’s new $1 billion data center under construction in Fort Worth, Texas that will get 100% of its power from a wind farm.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
These heat pump systems use the natural temperature difference of the earth to regulate inside building air through both heating and HVAC systems. It is expensive to retrofit old buildings with these systems, however new building construction is taking great advantage of these systems in whole building design.
President Obama previously announced the goal of 20% of America’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. Much of that energy will run HVAC systems. In July 2015, President Obama announced a new solar initiative. Many HVAC installation companies are now also offering solar power installations to support the HVAC systems. Renewable energy will play an increasing role in HVAC system installations.
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