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The Future of HVAC

The Future of HVAC

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12/27/2013

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The Future of HVAC The Perspective of One American

Richard B. Hayter, Ph.D., P.E. Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 66506
(Presented at the 40th anniversary of the Netherlands Technical Association for Building Services (TVVL), June 11, 1999, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Summary: Our technology is constantly changing, sometimes because of new discoveries and sometimes because of influences outside our industry. As recently as this century, central, indoor climate control was available to only a privileged few. Today, even central air-conditioning in homes is common in the U.S. Our industry has had a profound effect on population shifts, particularly in hot climates. Occupants in our buildings are now more comfortable, healthier, and more productive than they once were, thanks to improvements in our equipment and system designs. These improvements have been brought on by a number of factors including technical, market changes, energy and environmental concerns, and political decisions. Regardless of the reason for the changes, they will continue to occur and we have an obligation to direct those changes for both the benefit of our clients and our future. Learning from the Past: Trends indicate that there continues to be an increase in demand for air-conditioning and with that comes a need for new technology. Let us review that trend. Records show that central heating existed as long ago as the third century BC. Similarly, various techniques have been used to enhance ventilation in buildings. An article in the ASHRAE Journal describes an innovative design to enhance ventilation in the Natural History Museum, London, constructed in 1873. Cooling for comfort also had early beginnings. In the eighth century a Baghdad caliph had snow packed between walls of his villa for summer cooling. These are certainly unique examples but do not demonstrate the present impact of HVAC on the general public. Although central cooling in office buildings existed as early as 1928 in the U.S., it was too expensive for the typical homeowner. After World War II, air-conditioning for comfort became increasingly popular. Whereas in the past, buildings had operable windows with awnings for shade, high ceilings, and possibly portable fans for cooling,

S. This is the direct result of air-conditioning. With 52. The exhibit shows the growth and impact of air-conditioning in the U. . Environmental Protection Agency predicts that by the year 2000.S. USA. Will this exponential growth in the use of air-conditioning continue? Will other regions of the world see similar growth? It is the author’s opinion that growth will occur. the rate of that growth will depend on a number of variables. 1999. According to the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI). 44 percent of the CFC chillers that existed in the early 90’s will be replaced or converted. Similar improvements in residential. the value of shipments by U. new technology. are located in the Southeast and Southwest parts of the country. alone. energy consumption will be reduced by 7 billion-kilowatt hours/year compared to that before replacement began.000 CFC chillers yet to be replaced in the U. As a result. at the National Building Museum in Washington.S. homes have air-conditioning and in 1996.S. and new opportunities for the HVAC industry. Since 1940. The U. DC.S.S. and abroad. Today air-conditioning is a way of life in the U. According to ARI. nearly 50% of all U. Advancements in technology are responding to those concerns.S.the entire architecture of buildings began to change as air-conditioning became more prevalent. With less energy consumption comes lower CO2 emissions from electrical generating plants. In 1998 the U. However.S. The exhibit will remain open through January 2. non-CFC chillers will be 40 percent more efficient than the CFC units installed 20 years ago. 81% of all new homes constructed were equipped with central airconditioning. ARI indicates that the new. in 1996. 2000. eight of the 10 fastest growing cities in the U. HVAC manufacturers exceeded $28 billion U.S. there remains a large market for new chillers. The HVAC Market: Trends would indicate that the HVAC industry is responding to a robust market and that the market is significantly influenced by a concern for energy and the environment. "Stay Cool! Air Conditioning America" is an exhibit that opened May 1. unitary air-conditioners can be seen in figure 1.S. manufactured 7558 non-CFC chillers for use in the U.

The following is a description of some of these influences. The national security of a country may be dependent on a reliable flow of energy . taxing authority. Overall. Therefore operating costs are major influence in the adoption of new technology. ARI reports that in the U. Energy: Few doubt that the energy we presently use is finite.Figure 1: Shipment-Weighted Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios of Unitary AirConditioners (Less than 65. and other political issues can influence policies that have little or no technical basis. 5.5 quads of energy are consumed in commercial buildings each year.000 BTUH) Sales in unitary equipment increased 16 percent in 1998 over the previous year. Influences on HVAC Applications: Buildings have a significant impact on our global resources. In the U.S. and technicians. the primary driver for energy conservation is not necessarily the finality of the source but the cost savings. buildings in the U. The engineer who designs or operates equipment and systems has a commitment to minimizing energy use for the long-term benefit of humanity. Technology is indeed important but much of the change in our industry is in reaction to other influences. not only between producing and consuming countries but also within countries where distribution inequities.. As scientists. Comfort cooling and refrigeration account for the largest portion of this (48%). Energy supplies also have a strong political influence. consume about 35% of the country’s total energy consumption.S. engineers. as well as to save costs for his or her client or employer.S. we tend to feel that advances in the industry are primarily in response to advances in technology and a consumer demand for that technology.

President of ARI explains. Safety. we use less energy. As we developed new. in many cases. Annual energy costs for an office building in the U. energy that. comes from burning CO2-producing fossil fuels. As we design and operate more energy-efficient equipment and systems. without a benefit to society. Ozone depletion is a global issue that is still being resolved. Much of the illegal imports are virgin CFC’s. and other countries are a continuing concern. those products are also more energy efficient. Illegal imports of CFC’s to the U. The total cost of personnel who occupy that building ranges from 4500 to 9000 Nlg/m2/yr. Likewise. As Ted Rees. is approximately 45 to 90 Nlg/m2/year.globally. the environment will continue to impact our industry. comfort. Human Factors: Worker productivity will become a significant factor in the way we design. Our challenge is to provide comfort while at the same time conserving energy. The cost to rent or own the property is approximately 225 to 900 Nlg/m2/yr. Fortunately our industry has proven that it can respond in a timely way. health. local governments or groups of governments that attempt to ignore the Montreal Protocol cause major disruptions in the planned phaseout of refrigerants. Policies regarding climate change have also directly impacted our industry.and therefore decisions regarding its use and availability may or may not directly impact equipment and system design.S. and productivity are certainly . The point here is that although the cost of energy can and should be minimized.S. The environment will continue to impact our industry into the foreseeable future. because HCFC alternatives are threatened with premature phaseout. Like energy. For example attempts to accelerate the phaseout of HCFC’s will ultimately have damaging effects on our environment. environmentally friendly products. We can anticipate that energy efficiency will continue to play a dominant role in our designs. We should not assume that we must sacrifice comfort for the sake of energy. In addition. particularly in developing countries. early phaseout of HCFC’s will encourage use of CFC’s. it should not be done at the expense of the productivity of the worker. Developing countries are still permitted to produce CFC’s and are doing so in record volume. trade barriers will negatively effect our industry. Environment: The environment has possibly had more influence on HVAC technology than has energy. Maintenance and other building and operating costs are similar. Each of us has an obligation to adopt these new technologies and support research that will help our industry meet the challenges of the future. install and operate our environmental control systems. An interesting anomaly resulting from climate change is the new design conditions that are evolving for buildings as climate zones shift.

We can anticipate that global standards for design of equipment and systems will increase. It is the author’s observation that this ethic is particularly strong in northern European countries.S. we must continue to support the creation of standards based on a consensus of the industry and help avoid undue political influence. humidity control. temperature. Some systems will even provide a white noise generator that is under the control of the occupant. if the standards are based on sound technical information. this level of control may not be expected. particularly with regards to air-conditioning. temperature control has a major impact on occupant satisfaction. in the U. it is equally important that the system be operated to assure a quality environment. those that have political overtones. Although countries that have only limited or no domestic sources of energy have reasons of national security to be energy conscious. The dialogue between ISO. CEN. scholarly publications. they will provide the collective knowledge of engineers from throughout the world. and cooperative activities of technical societies will contribute to technical rather than political-based standards. radiant heat transfer are all controllable variables. Societal: The engineer. Political: Adoption of building standards will increase. Whereas standards based on sound technical information and decisions are usually of benefit to a global society. air velocity. in some cases. have a negative effect on those outside as well as inside the country. particularly those that create a protectionism of local commerce. in the U. and other multinational standard writing bodies is both commendable and productive. Air quality. Whereas in some countries. As engineers. noise. we will see an increased use of individual environmental control systems. occupants dress for indoor conditions that will be somewhat uniform regardless of exterior conditions. As important as good design is. the . "Green Buildings" and sustainability are in-vogue terms at the moment. A growing societal ethic exists for protecting our environment and extending the availability of our natural resources.influenced by the HVAC system. He or she also has an obligation to assure that an interest in sustainability continues. For example. Here each occupant will be able to select his or her preferred dry bulb temperature. and technician can make a major contribution toward satisfying the goal to conserve energy and to minimize the impact of our industry on the environment. the level of control of the environment is also somewhat governed by occupant expectations. Beyond the immediate impact on the occupant. and possibly radiant and wet bulb temperature. This should not necessarily be interpreted as negative or restrictive to our designs because.S. scientist. The sharing of knowledge through conferences such as this. As we better understand the impact of the environment on worker productivity. and.

It is impossible to predict the impact of technologies presently under development." will likely help increase the use of flammable refrigerants once thought to be unsafe. and encouraging students to pursue our field of engineering. while we work simultaneously on the same drawing. engineers are regularly transmitting plans and specifications for new equipment and systems. Whereas in the recent past we experienced significant changes in air handling system . systems that do not rely on vapor compression such as desiccant cooling. set of plans. particularly in developed countries. the Internet gives us access to a vast array of current technology that was previously unavailable. Adoption of ISO 5149. What impact will this have on our industry? It will be significant and totally positive. We can draw on the knowledge of individuals throughout the globe as we design and operate systems for the comfort and health of our building occupants.commitment of the general public in many of those countries goes well beyond national security issues. particularly ammonia. we have an obligation to verify that the information we use whether received verbally. particularly as there becomes an increased emphasis on personal climate control. such as advances with natural and flammable refrigerants. Communication: As engineers. Similarly. We can now instantly share information regardless of our location. thermoacoustic and magnetic refrigeration. Both Europe and North America are experiencing exponential growth in the use of natural refrigerants. or document. All of us have an obligation to our profession and a global society to share our knowledge by contributing to the literature. Instant global communication has become commonplace. and even older technologies like thermoelectric or vortex cooling may all have significant effects on our designs in the future. For example. supporting research. Geographic location is no longer an issue as we access the World Wide Web. The rate of growth in the use of flammable refrigerants is somewhat more difficult to predict. in print or on the Web is sound in principle and applicable to our client’s need. As the author prepared for this conference. writing standards. virtually all of the communication with TVVL was via the Internet. "Mechanical Refrigerating Systems Used for Cooling and Heating-Safety Requirements. It may be easier to accurately predict the effect of improvements in more traditional technologies. In addition. We can now be interactive in real-time with engineers in multiple locations throughout the globe. Visual communication via computer desktop video allows us to converse face to face. Looking Ahead: Conferences such as this one sponsored by TVVL will help disseminate new technology.

manufacturing. it is the author’s opinion that we will definitely see an increase in the integration of the environmental control systems and the building structure. I also anticipate that we will see a renewed emphasis on our knowledge of human factors. Regardless of the equipment or controls used. facilities for the aging. For example. ASHRAE President George Jackins set the establishment of the ASHRAE Learning Institute as one of his goals. I predict that the future of our industry will be as dependent on lifelong learning as it is on the development of new technology. special needs in a variety of medical facilities. Virtual electronic classrooms are here today.designs ranging from variable air volume to displacement ventilation. light. yet humans are the most complex part of the HVAC system. time differences. your value to your client and employer declines. His vision for this institute is to provide an opportunity for engineers around the globe to share knowledge regardless of their locations." The communication between the architectural profession and the engineering profession will increase with division of responsibility becoming more integrated. the interaction with noise. Specialty environments will also take on increased importance. We must be proactive in learning about new technologies throughout our entire career. Preparing for the Future: Your value as an engineer is in what you know and your ability to apply that knowledge. the advent of fuzzy logic controllers which control a system to maintain a comfort zone or envelope rather than a single point or dead-band will have a significant impact on the equipment we select and the systems that deliver the conditioning fluid such as water or air. An increasingly popular terminology in our industry is "the building is a system. Again. we have an obligation to our profession to share our knowledge with others. We need not wait for the future. A wealth of information exists on how we respond to the thermal environment. For example. We are in a dynamic profession. As we better understand the cause and effect of indoor air quality. air velocity and other environmental variables on humans. electronic communication gives us the tool needed to share information globally. it is the author’s prediction that innovations in computer-based control systems will have an equally dramatic effect on new designs. As soon as your knowledge is less than state-of-the-art. the better our design will be for environmental control systems. and . and confinement housing for food animals will all present new challenges for our profession. In addition. It is virtually impossible to keep current by merely continuing to use the same solutions to problems or to depend totally on our own innovative ability.

every technical society affiliated with the HVAC industry such as TVVL.edu . we have an obligation to be proactive in encouraging changes that are of benefit to the society we serve. The ASHRAE Learning Institute will help us share that knowledge. Changes will occur and for the better. rhayter@ksu. We will continue to discover ways to assure their comfort and health. . Our vision for our industry can be fulfilled as we take action through our contributions to the technology of HVAC. Manhattan. Richard B. You can be part of that positive change by sharing your knowledge with other engineers through publications. As engineers. Beyond ASHRAE. the engineering practitioner. KS 66506. 133 Ward Hall. as well as share opportunities with other societies and individuals in our field. Only you. Hayter was the 1995/96 president of ASHRAE. Our designs have a direct impact on the people who occupy our buildings. ASHRAE will be making a considerable investment in the institute in order to serve our members. Some changes will be caused by improvements in technology whereas others will be the result of influences outside our immediate control. serving with standard writing organizations and participating in technical societies. Conclusion: The rate of change in our industry will be exponential. will determine what knowledge is transferred and the method by which it is shared. while reducing our impact on the environment and natural resources.political boundaries. will be increasing its emphasis on the transfer of knowledge. It has long been the author’s position that virtually everyone in our industry has some knowledge from which the rest of us could benefit. We are a "people-oriented" profession. This in turn will have direct benefit to our industry and to each of us individually. He is the Associate Dean of Engineering for External Affairs at Kansas State University.

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