Energy Solutions Ltd

Large building HVAC

In large commercial / institutional buildings, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) is often the largest energy use. With its components and operation invisible to most users, problems usually go unnoticed, unless comfort problems result.

Control failures go unnoticed

Energy Solutions Ltd

Generally all large buildings have ongoing, recurring HVAC problems. These cause either comfort problems or excessive energy consumption, or both. Usually the systems are designed to overcome comfort problems (for example, if heating is stuck “on”, extra cooling is automatically supplied to compensate). However, the energy problems this causes are not obvious, and only show up as excessive costs (and excessive greenhouse emissions).

Usually the building owners / managers / occupants won’t either notice or follow up on the increased costs, and the problems will persist. Even if they do, identifying the causes of the problems can be difficult, even to specialists.

Likewise, if comfort and noise issues occur, they are not always connected to the underlying HVAC systems and their problems.

More complicated buildings are the worst

Energy Solutions Ltd

HVAC systems and controls are all constantly degrading, with sensors drifting, refrigerant leaking, filters clogging, pumps wearing etc. and although planned and preventative maintenance will solve many of the problems if it is done diligently, there will always be unexpected problems.

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In more tightly conditioned spaces (like laboratories, hospitals, museums, etc.) there are more interactions between heating, cooling, humidification, dehumidification, and pressurisation, and each of these interactions is potentially a source of problems. That is why these spaces have higher energy costs and maintenance requirements, and historically more comfort complaints.

Energy Solutions Ltd

BMS visuals help understand operation

Larger buildings normally use sophisticated control systems (often called Building Management Systems, or BMSs) to allow visualisation of their operation, but even these do not facilitate real understanding of operations or identification of problems.

Special analytics help diagnose problems

Energy Solutions Ltd

They can also accumulate enormous amounts of data (sometimes millions of data points per day). This much data is generally unmanageable, so is not used.

Energy Solutions uses advanced diagnostic techniques to identify and remedy these hidden problems. These rely on using time series, or trend data from BMS to understand why items and systems of HVAC equipment operates the way they do.

Energy Solutions Ltd

Eventually loads may be minimised.

Understanding the basic physics of operations allows irregularities to be noticed, and the source of problems identified.