4 FM quick reads on HVAC
1. Monitoring Is an Essential Part of Water Treatment Program
Effective water treatment is a complex process involving steps designed to address system-specific problems such as scale, corrosion and fouling. Each category of problem requires its own specialized treatment. That may be the use of biocides to control microbiological fouling, the addition of chemicals to limit the build up of scale, and the use of different chemicals to reduce corrosion.
But it's not enough to implement those measures. Rather, it is essential to monitor the water within the system to ensure that problems are not developing. For example, many biocides are corrosive. If too high a level of biocide is used, it may cause corrosion; if the level is too low, however, the biocide may not be effective at controlling microbiological growth. What's more, make up water conditions can change from season to season, or if a new source of make up water is used.
To ensure that the water treatment program is effective, weekly monitoring is generally advisable. For example, dip slides can be used to keep track of bacteria levels. Although testing involves labor and possibly some equipment costs, that cost is a small price to pay in comparison to the problems it can prevent.
2. Replacing HVAC Equipment? Take a Fresh Look at Options
Today's topic is replacing HVAC equipment.
It's easy to think that the best replacement for a piece of HVAC equipment is an updated version of the same piece of equipment. If the old equipment basically did the job, a new unit will do even better. It will be more reliable and more energy efficient and will likely offer more control options. What's more, you already know that it will meet the needs of the space it is serving.
But replacing in-kind — that is, buying essentially the same piece of equipment — may not be the best route. For one thing, the needs of the space may have changed. If the cooling load has increased, more capacity may be needed. Or perhaps there is now a critical load that justifies redundancy in the cooling system.
It's also possible that changes in technology may offer new options that are worth considering. Or perhaps a different configuration of equipment — two smaller chillers instead of one larger unit, for example — might match the load better.
Replacing a unit in-kind may be easier, faster and less expensive in the short term, but it can be a mistake in the long run.
3. Ceiling Panel Durability an Important Consideration
Ceiling tiles need to stand up to some forms of use and abuse. If a facility executive cuts corners on ceiling durability for cost reasons, the ceiling panels may need to be replaced much sooner than anticipated, costing more money in the long run.
Schools and other seasonal-use facilities are spaces where special durability considerations are important, for example. When school isn’t in session, HVAC systems are usually turned off to save money. This is often the most humid part of the year, however. When HVAC systems are turned back on in the fall, the ceiling panels can bow. For spaces like these, ceiling panels designed to tolerate a high level of humidity and temperature fluctuation are important.
4. Tax Deductions Getting Easier for HVAC Energy Efficiency
Today's tip is to look into the possibility of tax deductions when making energy efficient HVAC upgrades.
The Energy Policy Act, or EPAct, provides tax deductions for HVAC installations that meet certain criteria. There's been an upswing in the number of HVAC projects qualifying for deductions, says Charles Goulding of Energy Tax Savers.
To qualify for a deduction, an HVAC project must reduce energy costs at least 16.67 percent below the costs for a building designed to meet ASHRAE 90.1-2001. The project has to use energy modeling to show the energy cost savings.
That last criteria - documenting expected savings using an energy simulation model approved by the Internal Revenue Service - used to be a major hurdle to getting tax deductions for HVAC projects. But the past several years have seen three changes that make energy modeling less daunting. For one thing, the LEED certification program also requires building energy modeling. The growing popularity of that program means that more projects are using modeling. Facility managers should be aware, however, that modeling for EPAct deductions requires a different approach than LEED modeling, and facility managers should ensure that engineers doing the modeling understand EPAct requirements.
Another big change is that more current undergraduate architecture and engineering student are learning how to prepare building energy simulation models. That pool of expertise is making modeling more accessible to facility managers.
A third reason that modeling is no longer the hurdle that it used to be is the increase in the number of IRS-approved energy modeling programs.