HVAC management for commercial buildings is in transition because of recent regulatory changes around the use of air-conditioning coolants. That’s creating challenges for building owners and managers.
A federal mandate took effect in 2010 stopping the production of all air conditioners that require the common air coolant R-22. This law impacts all commercial air-conditioning systems in Arizona that use it. In light of these changes, commercial building HVAC managers must know what steps to take for commercial air-conditioning units.
Changes in Commercial Air Conditioning
Owners and managers of large commercial air conditioning systems need to look at retrofitting existing air-conditioning systems to new legal refrigerants. Another option is to update to new air-conditioning systems containing compliant refrigerant types. Per the Clean Air Act, HCFC refrigerants must be recovered/recycled, reclaimed, or destroyed without being released into the atmosphere.
Adjusting to the New Regulations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved coolant R410A . To comply with regulations, commercial HVAC systems must be compatible for use with this coolant. For the time being, HVAC managers don’t have to take drastic measures, unless the cooling or heating system breaks down. Then, it might be more practical to buy a modern, more efficient model air conditioning unit for the building.
Eventually, commercial properties will be forced to buy brand new A/C systems. Older systems can be modified to use R410A, but you may find this retrofit to be so expensive that purchasing a new A/C unit makes more sense.
HVAC Energy Efficiency
To achieve higher levels of energy efficiency, HVAC managers should consider buying new, HVAC systems to save money. New HVAC systems use less power to cool buildings, thus reducing utility bills. However, just buying any new A/C system won’t guarantee this cost reduction. To save money, take into account the following factors.
- Choose the Right Size HVAC: A larger air conditioner won’t add more cooling capacity. Not only will it waste energy, but it won’t remove all humidity, leaving the space damp and clammy. It’s important to know the size of the room and the right capacity, in BTUs per hour, for the square footage. ENERGY STAR has a good resource on proper sizing.
- Certification: The Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) certifies equipment based on performance standards. Building managers can be assured the numbers are accurate, make more informed purchases, and know how the system will perform. Certification guarantees purchases meet energy standards and are eligible for a utility’s energy rebate.
- Maintenance: One insight you don’t want to skip is maintenance. Even a high efficiency HVAC system will not perform well if refrigerant leaks are ignored, filters aren’t changed, and periodic tune-ups are skipped. Old chillers, according to facilitiesnet.com, lose up to 15% of refrigerant a year, while newer ones may lose just 0.1% per year.
Comfort Index for A/C
Modern innovations make running newer HVAC systems less complicated. With remote monitoring, property managers do not have to hire full-time engineers. Building managers and service personnel can view trends, analyses, and alerts from a laptop or mobile device.
Knowing what it takes to create a comfortable working environment helps. A comfort index is defined in ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55. It defines various acceptable indoor thermal conditions, covers design solutions, and offers procedures for measuring comfort. The 2013 update added a predictive model accounting for building occupant clothing.
There is much to know for optimizing your commercial HVAC system. The banning of R-22 refrigerant, modern energy-efficient units, and innovations in remote monitoring and measuring comfort are reshaping the industry. Additional resources are available for making commercial properties more compliant. Consult with an expert such as Isley’s Inc. to discuss the correct regulatory compliance and the right commercial air conditioning system for you.
Knowing the best air conditioner maintenance firm in your area can help with timeliness of service. Isley’s Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona offers professional air conditioning and HVAC maintenance services to commercial properties. Isley’s technicians go through a multi-point checklist for each HVAC commercial inspection and cleaning. In addition to refrigerant levels, Isley’s checks for filters, electronics, controls, evaporator and condenser coils, condensers and wiring. Getting professional HVAC expertise helps keep your modern A/C system performing throughout the hot summer months.