A Building Manager’s Guide to HVAC Optimization
Commercial HVAC units account for the lion’s share of energy consumed by an office building, school, hospital, or any other commercial building. Luckily, there are ways for building managers to save costs, conserve energy, and provide thermal comfort and clean air to the building’s inhabitants.
Let’s look at a few ways a building manager can optimize the commercial HVAC system.
We’ll Say It Again, Check Those HVAC Filters
Regularly changing HVAC filters can reduce wasted energy by up to 10%. When filters are dirty, air flow is restricted, resulting in the HVAC unit working too hard (and this hampers the indoor air quality). For normal commercial HVAC systems, filters should be changed at least once per quarter.
Many building operators choose to change filters every month, especially if the building is older or if something takes place inside the building that causes more particulates to be released in the air, like a manufacturing setting where dust and particulates are stirred up.
Upgrading your filters to the highest MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating they can handle. If you aren’t sure what types of filters are best for your commercial HVAC system, you can read this post, and ask your commercial HVAC professional for help.
Create An Energy-Saving Floorplan
Commercial interior designers don’t always consider HVAC when creating a new office layout. That’s a mistake, considering the biggest energy draw is the HVAC system. A smart floorplan redesign includes working with the existing architecture and ductwork, while utilizing natural light as much as possible to offset heating costs.
Many smart building designs also include adding insulation to doors and windows, and the installation of smart thermostats (more on this in a moment).
Is The Ductwork in Your HVAC System Up to Snuff?
Improper duct seals can result in up to 20% loss of HVAC efficiency. Get an HVAC technician to inspect the ductwork, especially where you can’t see it, like under the building or in uncooled/unheated spaces, and make sure ducts are sealed tight.
For ductwork that can become easily compromised by harsh weather or environmental conditions, consider asking your HVAC technician if it’s a good idea to wrap the ductwork in insulation.
Smart thermostats can be the real key to optimizing a commercial HVAC system that’s in good condition, with clean filters and sealed ductwork. One of the biggest sources of energy waste is improper adjustment of indoor temperatures. Or, in other words, when your employees or building inhabitants adjust the thermostat all willy-nilly.
Smart thermostats can read outdoor weather predictions and conditions in real-time and can connect to sensors inside the building that measure the room’s occupancy levels.
Additionally, smart thermostats are controlled via an app. So, a building manager can control indoor temperatures and program commercial HVAC units remotely, giving them more control over the indoor temperature.
Maintain a Good Indoor Air Quality
At the end of the day, a building manager’s job is to make sure the building is safe, sure, but also to make sure its inhabitants are safe. That means ensuring a good indoor air quality with proper HVAC maintenance.
While clean filters and controlling indoor air pollution are a must, a building manager might think about installing indoor air quality monitors to make sure the air inside the building is up to standard. The EPA also offers a handy Building Air Quality Guide that, while a little old, still has some great checklists and resources building managers can use as guidelines.
Managing a commercial building is a lot of responsibility. Make sure you work with a licensed commercial HVAC technician to optimize and check your building’s system. Need a fresh look at your HVAC system? Contact us today!