Enhancing HVAC controls follows logically from these steps. Facility managers adopting guidelines provided by the Epidemic Task Force of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) can be confident they're putting the welfare of their occupants and employees first.
But they can be nearly as certain that implementing these new recommendations will drive increased energy consumption. Fortunately, prioritizing a building's health does not mean owners must sacrifice their ability to optimize energy use and minimize cost.
Taking Control in the Pandemic
Many HVAC systems support data gathering, reporting, trending and alarming capabilities, which allow managers to track the impact and cost of changes made to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in near real time. Still, the age and variety of equipment in use presents a challenge, suggesting that no single solution can minimize energy consumption while meeting ASHRAE guidance. Instead, facility managers will want to consider a variety of options to meet this goal.
Optimizing Outdoor Air Ventilation
Optimizing an HVAC system's outdoor air (OA) ventilation is key to a healthier indoor environment. ASHRAE encourages facility managers to increase outdoor air ventilation as much as possible in order to reduce the recirculation air in the space. To do this, facility engineers must factor climate, unit capacity and space requirements for temperature and humidity. Increasing OA is likely to increase the load on any HVAC system and result in a substantial energy penalty.
But there are ways to maximize outside air ventilation while at the same time offsetting as much as possible the associated penalty. It's important to make sure system fans and dampers are properly working, that cooling coils are clean, and that outside air intake and exhaust are free of obstructions. Demand control ventilation systems should be adjusted to maintain minimum ventilation rates at rates equal to or greater than ASHRAE standards, and updated control logic can be added to adjust the economizer to supply outside air at the greatest rate possible.
Building operators may need to consider enhanced freeze protection and/or heating capacity to handle the increased outdoor air, and additional humidification equipment and controls may need to be added. Other steps - such as placing continuously unoccupied areas of the building into setback, adjusting space temperature setpoints outside typical comfort conditions, and utilizing supply air temperature reset to promote greater zone damper openings - also may be helpful. Along with these strategies, facility managers should maximize the use of their building automation systems' energy-saving features.
More Control Options
Other control system options can contribute to a healthier building environment:
Healthier Buildings, Healthier Businesses
Through an industry-leading suite of advanced solutions and services, Carrier's Healthy Buildings Program helps deliver healthy, safe, efficient and productive indoor environments at a time they're needed most. From building assessments and monitoring to solutions designed to improve IAQ, Carrier's experts will work closely with you to assess, upgrade, maintain and sustain your buildings.
Learn more about the Carrier Healthy Buildings Program and connect with your local expert today.