HVAC Design – A Systems Perspective

$960 Billion will be invested by building owners and managers between now and 2023 toward greening their existing infrastructure…according to estimates by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).  Part of the premise is the common objective to reduce energy consumption, cut costs and shrink carbon footprints.  But there’s also a growing desire to conform to the growing trend of green building codes and standards designed to urgently drive increased efficiency in water and energy in commercial buildings.

Existing commercial buildings consume almost one-fifth of U.S. energy production. However, roughly 30% of that energy consumption is wasted…incentivizing a huge opportunity for improving efficiency.  Commercial HVAC systems are a prime starting point to focus on the greening effort…since the typical system comprises about 40% of a building’s total energy usage.


hvac design blueprint

By Pahazzard – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Accordign to 2015 USGBC data…green building comprises nearly half of all new nonresidential construction.  Robust market demand and more stringent environmental policies at each level of government are the driving forces.  In fact, the federal government has set a 2030 mandatory goal for all new federal buildings to achieve net-zero energy consumption.  In other words…total energy consumption by a building must equal to the amount of renewable energy created by that same site.

Progressive designers and managers know that a large scale focus on increasing a building’s energy efficiency requires a more macro systems approach to achieve maximum benefits.  When this systems perspective is implemented…risks of inefficiencies and poor performance that often result from cobbled together components…tend to disappear.

  • Energy and water efficiency are maximized.
  • The life expectancy of equipment is extended.
  • Operating and maintenance costs are lowered.
  • Design, procurement, installation, operation, and maintenance are simplified.

Automated building management systems (BMS) common in larger structures also multiply the positive impacts of using a systems approach.  They enable facility managers who operate buildings to maintain a comfortable environment while closely monitoring the performance of the individual mechanical, electrical and plumbing components that must work together to achieve that goal.

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