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Devising a Sustainable HVAC Strategy: Key considerations for Energy Managers

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Commercial energy managers face the critical task of balancing operational efficiency with sustainability, especially in the realm of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems. A sustainable HVAC strategy is paramount not just for reducing carbon footprints but also for ensuring economic efficiency and regulatory compliance. Here, we outline the key considerations for UK Energy Managers in developing such strategies…

1. Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact

The cornerstone of a sustainable HVAC strategy is energy efficiency. Energy managers must prioritise systems that minimise energy consumption while maintaining optimal performance. This includes evaluating the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of HVAC units and opting for models with higher ratings. Additionally, the environmental impact of HVAC systems, particularly in terms of refrigerants used and their Global Warming Potential (GWP), is a critical consideration. The shift towards low-GWP refrigerants is not only a sustainability practice but also aligns with regulations such as the EU’s F-Gas Regulation.

2. Integrating Renewable Energy Sources

Incorporating renewable energy sources like solar power or geothermal energy into HVAC systems can significantly enhance sustainability. Solar-assisted heat pumps, for instance, reduce reliance on conventional electricity, leveraging natural resources to cool and heat buildings. For energy managers, this means exploring opportunities for renewable integration and assessing the feasibility and cost implications of such installations.

3. Advanced Control Systems and Automation

Modern HVAC systems equipped with smart controls and automation can lead to significant energy savings. Automated systems can adjust temperatures based on occupancy, time of day, and external weather conditions, thereby optimising energy usage. Integrating these systems with Building Management Systems (BMS) allows for real-time monitoring and adjustments, providing energy managers with greater control and insight into energy consumption patterns.

4. Regular Maintenance and Upgrades

Proper maintenance of HVAC systems is vital for sustained efficiency. Energy managers must ensure regular servicing to prevent inefficiencies and identify areas for upgrades. This includes routine checks for leaks, duct cleaning, filter replacements, and system calibration. Upgrading older systems to more energy-efficient models can also yield long-term cost savings and environmental benefits.

5. Staff Training and Engagement

A successful HVAC strategy involves not just technological solutions but also human factors. Training staff on energy conservation practices and encouraging responsible use of HVAC systems can contribute significantly to sustainability goals. This involves educating employees on the impact of their actions, such as adjusting thermostats or opening windows, and fostering a culture of energy consciousness.

6. Compliance with Regulations and Standards

Adhering to national and international standards and regulations is crucial. In the UK, this means compliance with the Building Regulations, specifically Part L, which deals with the conservation of fuel and power. Energy managers must stay abreast of legislative changes and ensure that HVAC systems meet or exceed these standards.

Developing a sustainable HVAC strategy in the UK commercial sector requires a multifaceted approach. Energy managers must navigate a landscape of technological advancements, regulatory requirements, and environmental considerations. By focusing on energy-efficient technologies, renewable integration, smart systems, regular maintenance, staff engagement, and compliance, they can devise strategies that not only reduce environmental impact but also offer economic and regulatory benefits. As the emphasis on sustainability continues to grow, these strategies will become increasingly integral to the operational success and environmental stewardship of UK businesses.

Are you looking for HVAC solutions for your business? The Energy Management Summit can help!

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

HVAC MONTH: How the charge to Net Zero has altered commercial HVAC strategies

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Over the last decade, commercial HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) technology has witnessed a paradigm shift, driven by the dual mandates of energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality. These evolutions reflect broader trends in environmental sustainability, smart technology integration, and the push for healthier workspaces. Here we highlight key developments in commercial HVAC systems and their implications for the future of climate control in commercial settings…

Around 2010, the HVAC landscape in the UK was primarily dominated by traditional systems focused on delivering heating and cooling at the lowest initial cost, without a substantial focus on long-term energy use or efficiency. However, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the UK’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions have been instrumental in shaping a new generation of HVAC solutions.

One of the most significant advancements in the UK’s commercial HVAC sector has been the widespread adoption of energy-efficient systems. Newer models of boilers and chillers now come with higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings. Technologies like heat pumps have gained popularity, especially those that use ground or air sources to provide energy-efficient heating by transferring heat rather than generating it through combustion.

Another critical development has been the adoption of Building Management Systems (BMS) and the integration of smart controls. These technologies have enabled facilities managers to achieve unprecedented levels of precision in environmental control and system responsiveness. The BMS interfaces with all components of a building’s HVAC system, optimizing performance and providing insights into energy usage patterns, leading to reduced energy consumption and costs.

The UK’s drive for better air quality, particularly in urban areas, has seen innovations in ventilation technology. Demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) systems now adjust air flow based on occupancy levels or the quality of indoor air, which is particularly relevant given the heightened awareness of airborne health risks post-COVID-19.

Renewable energy sources have also begun to play a role in HVAC solutions. Solar thermal panels, biomass boilers, and heat recovery systems are being integrated into commercial buildings, helping businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and comply with the UK’s ambitious climate targets.

Moreover, the refrigerants used in HVAC systems have also been an area of significant change due to their global warming potential (GWP). The UK has been active in phasing out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and other high-GWP refrigerants in favor of alternatives like hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and natural refrigerants, which are more environmentally friendly.

Throughout the decade, regulatory changes such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) have pressured the commercial sector to retrofit older HVAC systems with modern, more efficient alternatives. These regulations have led to innovative retrofit solutions that improve the efficiency of existing systems without the need for full system replacement.

Looking forward, the UK’s commercial HVAC landscape is likely to continue its evolution towards even greater efficiency and integration with smart grid technology. The growing trend towards net-zero buildings and the digitisation of energy systems presents further opportunities for HVAC technology to contribute to a more sustainable and energy-efficient future.

The last decade has seen UK commercial HVAC systems transition from a focus on basic comfort to becoming key players in energy management and environmental sustainability. These changes reflect broader societal shifts towards green building practices and the utilization of advanced technology to achieve a lower carbon footprint, heralding a new era of HVAC solutions that align with the UK’s vision for a cleaner, smarter, and more sustainable built environment.

Are you looking for HVAC solutions for your business? The Energy Management Summit can help!

Photo by Gritt Zheng on Unsplash

Energy efficient Air Management and Temperature Control

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By David Kipling, CEO – OEP Group

We regularly see air temperature and humidity management challenges in large buildings.  That can be in large logistics warehouses who have problems with solar gain in summer and very high temperatures at mezzanine levels or winter heating where the space is vast and there is pressure to reduce gas and fossil fuel usage.

Also in buildings with tight climate management, which need to maintain temperature and humidity within tight tolerances such as for pharmaceutical and electronics manufacturing.

The answer to date seems to have been to throw money at expensive air handling.  Even then employees often complain about cold or hot spots.   These can also manifest in uneven temperature for the stored product or production process, with implications on product quality.

There is a new approach though that can provide significant benefits.   The system uses a patented “stirring” approach which achieves uniform temperatures, and minimises stratification.  It only requires about 1/6th of the ducting usually needed, which also means less capacity is needed for AHUs and other air processing.  This can be paired with low energy fans and other technologies such as evaporative cooling to provide the required solutions.

The impact of this technology can be a reduction in energy costs of up to 40%, avoidance of replacement capex on AHUs, reduced operating costs to maintain and better staff comfort.   It could also resolve capacity constraints in some refrigeration applications.

If you would like to discuss how to implement energy efficient air management in your business, please contact David Kipling, CEO – OEP Group on 0151 271 0037 or email  david@on-site.energy (www.on-site.energy).

BEMS – Greener, safer, and more efficient buildings

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By Richard Irvin FM

A Building Energy Management Systems, (BEMS) is an intelligent and efficient approach to monitor and control building services such as lighting, heating and HVAC. Information is collected, tracked, monitored and used to control equipment for energy consumption.

As increasing energy costs continue to be a significant challenge, more building owners are using BEMS systems to improve efficiencies, reduce waste and manage costs.

This technology can be used in both residential and commercial buildings. Depending on the size of the premises, building type and budget – the BEMS system can be wired or wireless with both software and hardware integrated to the equipment, devices and appliances. Once installed, systems need to be maintained or they can be upgraded to maximise results.

The Richard Irvin FM advantage:

  • Plan – our engineers and specialists have industry-leading experience to help you get the best possible results from your existing BEMS / plant systems; from survey for new installation to re-commissioning and upgrades.
  • Protect – building users and residents benefit from clean air, set at the right temperature to create a healthy environment. Conserving energy reduces running costs and pollution.
  • Control – monitor and manage consumption based on data, make informed decisions to reduce running costs, act on energy consumption and minimise repairs.
  • Improve – we have the skill to assess, advice, supply and install renewable options such as ground source heat pumps and solar photovoltaic systems to improve both carbon footprint and energy consumption.

Our team of specialists review and recommend the best solution to achieve your goals. From recommissioning to upgrades or building new BEMS / HVAC systems – we will ensure the best possible outcome to prioritise safety and efficiency within the current environment.

Please visit our website www.richard-irvin.com or contact our Energy Division Manager,  stewart.butler@richard-irvin.com.

Flow informs to maximise energy efficiency and savings

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Being able to see how system components are performing in real-time is crucial if energy managers are to reduce costs and improve environmental performance of buildings. Without information on fluid flow, across the system, it’s difficult to diagnose and optimise efficiency. With accurate flow information, the picture changes entirely. 

Armstrong Fluid Technology has developed Active Performance Management to help optimise HVAC systems at any stage of a building’s life-cycle, responding to changing HVAC requirements. The combination of smart commissioning with real-time alerts and system transparency addresses performance drift and maintains occupant comfort. With Active Performance Management you can make annual energy savings of up to 40%.

One of Armstrong’s Active Performance Management solutions is Pump Manager, which ensures that pumps continue to operate efficiently and reliably throughout their complete lifecycles. Pump Manager is a cloud-based application that uses the embedded intelligence and connectivity of Armstrong Design Envelope pumps to provide performance reports to system operators. With this information, operators can make changes and address issues to optimise HVAC performance. 

Online trending and analysis across multiple parameters on single pumps, or on an aggregated basis for multiple pumps, assists in identifying performance degradation and facilitates a predictive and proactive approach. Pump Manager will, for example, report issues such as excessive vibration, pump in hand, risk of cavitation or a dead head should they start to occur.

Compatible with industry-standard BMS, EMS or CMMS solutions, Pump Manager helps reduce operating costs by providing data to support continuous optimisation of pump performance. Pump Manager also increases pump availability and reliability, reducing unexpected failures and providing early problem detection. Lastly it helps organisations report their energy use and environmental performance. 

To find out more about connecting your pump to gain greater visibility and control contact Armstrong Fluid Technology on tel: 08444 145 145, or email ukaftermarketsales@armstrongfluidtechnology.com.

The importance of ventilation in controlling COVID-19

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Looking to the future, property teams will also need to consider how they will reopen sites again once staff start coming back to the workplace. 

As we look forward to the eventual reopenings –it’s important for building managers to keep up to date with the latest government guidance. In particular, information coming out from groups such as the Environmental Modelling Group. As their recently released paper highlights, the role that ventilation systems have to play in controlling Covid-19 transmission throughout buildings is becoming increasingly clear.

The Role of Ventilation Systems (H2)

Ventilation is obviously an important factor in mitigating the risk of virus transmission. As a result, optimising ventilation operation should form an integral part of a wider Covid-19 mitigation strategy for all multi-occupancy spaces. 

This should include investigation into the current ventilation performance in all parts of a building, and implementation of a strategy which is adapted to ensure that ventilation is adequate throughout. For example, multi-occupant spaces that are reused regularly and are poorly ventilated (i.e. those that have a ventilation rate of below 5 l/s/person or a CO2 level of above 1500 ppm) should be identified and prioritised for improvement.

Measuring for elevated CO2 levels in indoor air is an effective method of identifying poor ventilation performance in multi-occupancy spaces. However, it should be noted that in low occupancy or large air volume spaces, a low level of CO2 cannot necessarily be used as an indicator that ventilation is sufficient to mitigate risk of transmission.

Part of an Encompassing Solution (H2)

While ventilation is one of the primary factors when it comes to Covid-19 mitigation in multi-occupancy spaces, it should form part of a wider strategy. 

Ventilation should be balanced against other aspects – in particular, thermal comfort. This may pose a challenge in naturally vented buildings, however strategies such as intermittent airing and partial window opening to compliment background ventilation may enable this to be achieved (or enable sufficient ventilation to be achieved whilst limiting the impact on thermal comfort.)

Overarching guidance from the Government recommends that organisations identify where they may need to secure additional financial or technical support to enable them to take appropriate actions to ensure the safety of the space they provide or occupy. 

How can ETS help? (H3)

Energy & Technical Services have a long history of improving HVAC system performance across all sectors – ensuring appropriate ventilation rates whilst maintaining a firm grip on cost and carbon. We also offer a technology-led Indoor Air Quality solution, to measure internal conditions for a wide range of parameters, and subsequently control building services operation to ensure optimal internal conditions for occupants. 

To discuss your requirements, get in touch. You can contact us by calling 0117 205 0542 or drop us an email at enquiries@energy-ts.com.



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By Future Motors

Future Motors is a young, vibrant business revolutionising energy consumption with an electric Switch Reluctance Smart Motor. It is designed for easy retrofit into existing HVAC, refrigeration, pumping and equipment currently using an induction motor.

With payback less than 3 years, this energy efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly, patented design features a bespoke, intelligent IoT-driven software controller, for a supremely controllable motor at a much reduced lifetime cost.  It’s built-in software and connectivity provides constant real-time monitoring of energy use, speed, torque, and temperature which allows automatic diagnosis of HVAC system issues. This connectivity can be via your existing BMS or via the cloud.

Contact us to learn how Switch Reluctance Smart Motor systems can energise savings for your business.


INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Future Motors electric Switch Reluctance Smart Motor

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Future Motors is a young, vibrant business looking to revolutionise energy consumption in the UK and EU. We are doing that with an electric Switch Reluctance Smart Motor designed for use in in HVAC, refrigeration, pumping and most equipment that currently uses an induction motor.

Energy efficient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly, the patented design features a bespoke, intelligent IoT-driven software controller, for a supremely controllable motor at a much reduced lifetime cost.  Its built-in software and connectivity provides constant real-time monitoring of energy use, speed, torque, and temperature which allows automatic diagnosis of HVAC system issues. This connectivity also allows remote controllability to maximise energy efficiency and enable demand-side management to avoid higher energy tariffs and enjoy demand side response revenues.

Don’t just take our word for it. wilko, one of the UK’s largest family owned DIY, homeware and garden retailers, is rolling out a nationwide upgrade programme for all the electric motors that drive HVAC air conditioning systems in its stores. Following an extensive and successful trial period, the retailer has invested in nearly 400 patented Switch Reluctance Smart Motor systems, manufactured by newly rebranded Silicon Valley-based Turntide Motors. An audit of motors performance during this roll-out measured average energy savings of 42% which outperforms the expected savings and gives a simple financial payback of less than 3 years.

The average C02 saved per unit in the trial equated to 2.4 tonnes, with a kilowatt saving per unit of 7,780 KWhrs, when compared to the incumbent electric motor systems. When scaling these savings across wilko’s total install base of electric motors, the estimated savings are substantial – 918 tonnes of C02 and 2.97 gigawatt hours throughout the lifecycle of the motors.

Adopting this approach to energy saving also enables operations to work towards the UK government’s goal of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. It promotes the view that creating a better future for society is a better future for business.

To learn more about why we agree and how Switch Reluctance Smart Motor systems can energise savings for your business book your one to one meeting.


Do you specialise in HVAC solutions? We want to hear from you!

1024 682 Stuart O'Brien

Each month on Energy Management Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the market – and in November we’ll be focussing on HVAC solutions.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help energy management buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of HVAC solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Lisa Rose on 01992 374077 / l.rose@forumevents.co.uk.

Here are the areas we’ll be covering in 2019, month by month:

November – HVAC
December – Water Strategy

For more information on any of the above, contact Lisa Rose on 01992 374077 / l.rose@forumevents.co.uk.

Image by Quinn Kampschroer from Pixabay