With HVAC Upgrades, Look at the Entire System

  June 28, 2012

Today’s tip from Building Operating Management: When considering an upgrade to a major piece of HVAC equipment, take a look at the rest of the system as well.

Given the planning, disruption and cost involved in an HVAC upgrade, it makes sense to take full advantage of the opportunity. That may mean expanding the scope of the project beyond a single piece of equipment that is immediately in need of replacement. "You wouldn't want to replace one piece and not consider the other pieces," says Clayton Ulrich, senior vice president of engineering services for Hines. "If you have a chiller that's reaching the end of its useful life, you have to consider the condition of the cooling tower. It's a mistake to replace the component of a system that has an obvious problem and not have the foresight to take a holistic look at it and say, 'the chiller's 30 years old and it has a problem, what else is that old?'"

One good place to start when looking for other areas that might be affected by an upgrade is the control system. If you have a legacy control system, you’re running the risk of either limiting your upgrade options or not getting the most out of them.

“I wouldn't limit myself with an old BAS or energy management system and have that tail wag the dog, if you will," says Tony Bamonte, vice president and regional property manager for Liberty Property Trust. "I wouldn''t say, ‘since the controls can't handle certain types of equipment, let's not go down that road.' I would start with the main equipment and then work from there.”

Other things to consider have more to do with the building's infrastructure than anything else, such as ductwork and piping. And, Bamonte points out, don’t just assume that a new piece will fit in its intended spot — or be the right weight to be supported if it's a rooftop unit.

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


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