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4  FM quick reads on HVAC

1. Geothermal Systems May Qualify for Tax Benefits

Today's topic is tax benefits for geothermal systems.

Geothermal systems work by transferring heat to and from the ground or ground water. In cold weather, the liquid in the pipes draws heat from the subsurface; in warm weather, heat from the building is transferred into the ground.

Geothermal systems provide heating and cooling without the use of fossil fuels. As a result, they have garnered new attention because of the growing interest in green design.

Geothermal systems may qualify for federal tax benefits in several ways. But some require action this year, says Charles Goulding of Energy Tax Savers.

For example, there is a 10 percent geothermal tax credit or an equivalent 10 percent cash credit in lieu of the tax credit. The cash credit is only available for geothermal projects that commence by December 31, 2010. In addition to the credit or cash grant, a geothermal project will also be eligible for accelerated 5 year MACR's tax depreciation and additional bonus tax depreciation in tax years where bonus depreciation is available, says Goulding.

Geothermal installations may also qualify for tax deductions under the Energy Policy Act, or EPAct, if the project reduces energy costs at least 16.67 percent below the costs for a building designed to meet ASHRAE 90.1-2001. Energy modeling is required to show the energy cost savings. Goulding says that geothermal systems are among the types of HVAC installations that most often qualify for EPAct deductions.

2.  HVAC System for Good IAQ

Part of maintaining good indoor air quality in a facility means making sure the components of the HVAC system itself don''t become a problem. Filters and drain pans first leap to mind, but other components can play a negative role as well.

For example, there''s the HVAC piping. To protect indoor air quality make sure the piping - steam, condensate, or hot and chilled water - does not leak. The piping could have high concentrations of corrosion inhibitors to extend its useable life. These chemicals could become airborne if a leak is not addressed.

Another area to keep an eye on is the ceiling plenum. When the area above ceiling tiles is used as a return plenum, it''s important to keep that space free of contamination or contaminated materials, such as contaminated ceiling tiles or wet insulation. If these types of materials are allowed to remain in the plenum space, microbes can be aerosolized and eventually move into the air stream.

3.  Sub-Meters Monitor HVAC Components

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media, with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is sub-metering and energy efficiency.

One area in which sub-metering technology excels is measurement and verification. Since technicians can install a sub-meter almost anywhere in the electrical-distribution or branch-circuiting system, managers can specify meters for use in areas in which they are most effective in gathering useful energy information. For managers in a large facility who want to understand the building's overall energy profile, these meters can help by monitoring individual pieces of equipment, including chillers, pumps, air handlers, and other HVAC-system components.

By collecting this data, managers can identify operational inefficiencies. Often, this step can reveal interesting trends, such as two or more large motor loads starting at the same time, which causes system spikes. By alternating or staggering these loads, managers can eliminate spikes and improve efficiency.

Sub-meters also can alert front-line technicians to the potential failure of a piece of equipment before it fails. Monitoring the current draw on a piece of equipment generates a profile. Once that piece of equipment starts to draw more than the recorded profile current, technicians can program an alert to let them know a potential problem exists. The technology allows technicians to take preventive measures before a costly failure occurs, and the resulting savings in downtime and maintenance costs can more than pay for installation of the sub-meters.

4.  Benefits of Submetering Central Plant Can Justify Cost

Today's topic is the value of submetering the central plant.

The chiller plant is likely to be one of the facility's largest energy users, and often the largest. That makes it a good candidate for submetering.

The biggest obstacle to submetering is typically cost. But submetering the chiller plant offers a range of important benefits that can justify the cost. Perhaps most important is that it enables facility managers to analyze the energy consumption of the central plant. For example, if chiller plant energy use climbs from one spring to the next, it may be that outside air economizers aren't working properly. Or a change in operations or a problem with controls may have caused a spike in electricity use. Addressing problems like those can bring significant savings.

Data from submeters can be used to test the effectiveness of various operational measures designed to save energy and to verify whether upgrades have actually performed as expected.

What's more, submetered data may help to identify problems with equipment. Addressing those problems may not only save energy, but prolong the life of the equipment or identify a piece of equipment that is failing.

Finally, in a multitenant building, the use of submeters can be an element in an overall energy efficiency or green strategy used to attract and retain tenants.


HVAC , energy efficiency , tax deductions , cost savings , ASHRAE 90.1 , Energy Policy Act , EPAct , geothermal systems

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