4  FM quick reads on HVAC

1. Facing Demands to Protect Critical HVAC Systems

I'm Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is data-storage environmental protection.

Computer servers and data-storage requirements are expanding in institutional and commercial facilities, thanks to increasing amounts of data, as well as growing demands for access to critical data at any time from anywhere. This demand for instant access makes maintenance and engineering schedules tighter and downtime for maintenance unacceptable.

The decision of where the computing and data storage will reside falls to information officers. But maintaining the support systems falls to maintenance and engineering departments. Technicians must monitor the performance of HVAC, power, security, communications, and fire-protection systems to ensure systems operate reliably and efficiently.

The major challenges for managers include identifying the maintenance and operating issues technicians must address to keep the systems operating reliably and meeting increasing regulatory demands for higher efficiency.

Power monitoring to discover and rectify potential overloads, poor power quality and source loss all constitute proper approaches to effectively maintaining data centers. Using infrared scanning of conductors and equipment to detect loose termination and possible overloaded circuits is a good way to locate and diagnose issues with power.

Understanding the organization's data needs will help managers discover the equipment and operations that are right for the facility. Regardless of size, data centers require careful planning and execution and diligent facility involvement to protect the increasingly data-driven assets of institutional and commercial facilities.

Boilers: Four Factors Shape Decision to Repair or Replace

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from James Piper, contributing editor for Building Operating Management and Maintenance Solutions magazines. Four factors can help a facility manager decide to repair or replace a boiler.

As with all building components, boilers have finite service lives. Even with ideal maintenance, they eventually require replacement. While a boiler's age is a major factor in determining whether to repair or replace a unit, it is not the only factor facility managers must consider.

No hard and fast rules exist for making this decision, but facility managers need to consider several important factors:

Age. As boilers age, maintenance costs gradually rise. Unless something serious goes wrong, replacement costs will always exceed repair costs. But the trend in maintenance costs is a more important factor. If these costs remain relatively constant, then repairing the boiler most likely is the better option. Consistently and rapidly increasing costs point toward replacement, as does difficulty in obtaining replacement parts.

History. Identical boilers operating in similar facilities often have widely different operating histories. Differences in set-up, operating practices, and maintenance often cause these variations. Operators and managers need to review the boiler's history to see if factors exist that suggest replacement is the better option.

Efficiency. New-generation boilers offer major increases in annual operating efficiency compared to boilers that are only 10 years old. Facility managers should consider the annual savings from replacement when evaluating options.

Configuration. Older systems with central boilers tended to include only one or two large boilers. That set-up often made it necessary to cycle one boiler to match part-load operating conditions. New-generation, centralized systems use several smaller, modular boilers, which allows operators to better match system capacity to facility needs, thus improving operating efficiency. Facility managers should review the historical building loads to see if a cost benefit exists for replacement with modular boilers.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.

Specifying Effective Portable Cooling Equipment

I'm Steve Schuster, associate editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is Specifying Effective Portable Cooling Equipment.

Institutional and commercial facilities are full of technology that produces important benefits, from energy savings and sustainability to productivity and efficiency. Few products, however, have made the transition from occasional stopgap to permanent must-have as rapidly as portable cooling units.

Facilities of all kinds have come to rely on computer servers and information technology (IT) equipment for their core operations. One result of this evolution is that cooling units maintenance and engineering managers once specified primarily to provide emergency cooling have become permanent units that provide cooling in server rooms. Given the complexity of the cooling challenge in such spaces, managers might consider working closely with the manufacturer or distributor to specify the most appropriate unit.

Questions to consider when specifying cooling equipment —

Does the unit have auto restart in case of a power outage?
What is the operating range of the unit?
What kind of application support is offered by the manufacturer or distributor?
Does the seller offer rental units in case a warranty issue arises or the heat load increases, requiring more cooling?

Underfloor Air Distribution Can Benefit High Performance Buildings

Today's tip from Building Operating Management comes from Jeffrey L. Heiken of KlingStubbins. Underfloor air distribution systems can offer benefits to high performance HVAC designs.

Underfloor air distribution enhances building operation and energy efficiency. Underfloor air distribution systems supply air from the floor level, putting the cooling source in closer proximity to cooling need. With conventional overhead air delivery systems, the conditioning air is typically forced from the ceiling level down to the occupant and equipment. In a cooling mode, the air must travel through a mass of hotter air that has naturally risen to the ceiling. As it falls, the cooler conditioned air mixes with hotter air, reducing the performance of the HVAC system.

Underfloor air distribution systems invite the hot air to rise, displacing it upward to the ceiling levels for return. The occupied lower 7 feet is conditioned; above that level, elevated temperatures are not sensed by occupants or equipment. The pressurized plenum of the underfloor space serves as a supply air distribution system. It is a low static pressure delivery system. The economic benefit of reducing fan static pressure requirements comes in fan energy savings.

On a high rise project in Raleigh, North Carolina, an energy model was used to evaluate elements of a high performance HVAC system. The building was a 305,000 square foot public safety building for police and fire operations. One element considered was an underfloor air distribution system. The raised flooring in this application enhanced space utilization flexibility and was a value added element the owners desired for office space.

The model for this project showed a 13.4 percent decrease in fan energy use with the underfloor system.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.


HVAC , computer servers and data storage

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