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NET ZERO BUILDINGS • Highlighting the Path Toward Net Zero Building Design

HVAC: VARIABLE REFRIGERENT FLOW
POWER: BOTH SIDES OF THE ‘NET’
WATER: DIVIDING LIQUID ASSETS

NET ZERO BUILDINGS
September 2013

 Volume 2, Number 3

solar skin

As designers and owners contemplate how to integrate renewable
power sources, such as solar, into their projects, they’re realizing it often
takes more square footage than is available on many roofs. One option—
integrating PV into the curtainwall.

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A relative newcomer. community is adopting a balanced design method of providing precise comfort control approach that considers energy and water consumption. technology employs an outdoor condensing unit. enabling the use of many evaporators like space saving. including large commercial buildings with multiple floors and areas that require individual comfort control. 45% Heating & Cooling Expenses Invented in Japan more than 20 years ago. LG Electronics.” says Lorie Quillin tions.” says Mike Smith. d and can transfer heat from spaces being cooled to spaces being heated. senior mar- Bell. 40 | 09. A s far as innovations in HVAC .S. VRF systems are estimated to achieve nearly 34% and higher energy cost savings. variable The “variable” in VRF refers to the ability of refrigerant flow (VRF) technology is a relative “newbie” when compared to traditional ducted systems. typically located on the roof. modular and can be installed without ting a closer look from building and construction professionals. environmentally friendly—words that are music to a designer’s ears—it’s no wonder that VRF is get- VRF zoning systems allow architects and engineers to design according to aesthetic rather than designing spaces around HVAC equipment. cost-effective and environmentally friendly HVAC options in commercial construction today. director Go-to-Markets for Commercial Air Conditioning. repetitive maintenance costs. VRF systems help achieve points for sustainability programs. With adjectives the system to control the amount of refrigerant flowing to the multiple evaporators (indoor units). and it has DATAPOINT been estimated that fan and duct losses of a conventional system can add up to 30% to the total energy consumption of a particular commercial building.com . and the building’s initial cost as equally impor- earn green building certification. VRF it. The system is capable of simultaneously cooling one area while heating another. According to the EPA. The systems are small. and vice versa.nzbmagazine. and multiple indoorr fan coil units. and it is these zoning systems that are designed to help buildings impact of development on the environment. VRF zoning technology is an energy-efficient 42 X According to the EPA. including net zero status. Mitsubishi Electric U. variety of new construction or retrofit applica- sustainable buildings that will increase building value. at least 45% of energy use in commercial buildings is attributable to cooling and heating expenses. John Mesenbrink has been covering the building and construction industry for more than 15 years. the to indoor environments. keting manager—commercial products. “Th is method is ideal for a wide tant factors in developing high-performance. which focuses on the installation side of mechanical systems. of differing capacities and configurations connected to a single condensing unit.H VAC JOHN MESENBRINK | NZB: HVAC | New Kid on the Block Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning systems provide one of the most flexible. at least 45% of energy use in commercial buildings is attributable to cooling and heating expenses. energy efficient.13 | NET ZERO BUILDINGS www. focusing his efforts on the plumbing and HVAC industries— including the launch of his website. especially when considering net zero. Instead of utilizing bulky ducts to g move air. “The architectural and engineering the use of a crane. Cooling & Heating Division. flexible small-diameter copper tubing is used to move refrigerant from the outdoor condenser.

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lead to a very favorable total cost of ownership.” says Smith. reducing equipment costs. once contractors and architects get a solid footing on the technology. Calif. two Daikin McQuay Magnitude chillers were selected—one 500-ton and one 250-ton unit. oil-less compressors and integral variable frequency drives. he says. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) headquarters at 525 Golden Gate— called “the greenest office building in North America”—opened to widespread acclaim for its sustainability and energy savings. fewer materials. The system control. water pumps and water piping. provides com- systems. it becomes clear cycle costs than any other technology on the market today.13 | NET ZERO BUILDINGS As far as zones. according to the function or preferences of each space. After factory certified testing to AHRI Standard 550/590 for water-cooled chillers. they’re single. and often contribute to a higher ROI with VRF operating cost. heat exchangers and an underfl oor air distribution system that conserves building space and minimizes ductwork and uses personal control of airfl ow. are conditioned to a set temperature and are operated indepen- systems are also engineered to save on the cost of ducts. 525 Golden Gate produces 50% less of a carbon footprint and uses 32% less energy and 60% less water. building owners is tremendous. Th row in the fact that.com . Th e building’s HVAC system design is based on a traditional four-pipe system and includes the two chillers. As far as up-front costs. the system is relatively mercial businesses more precise climate simple to install and maintain. combined with the ease of components are small. distribution fans. These efficiencies. VRF room spaces that.” says Bell. “Although VRF zoning technology is advanced. two large variable air volume (VAV) customer air handling units.” adds Bell. two rooftop cooling towers for the chilled water system. “VRF systems have a lower life dently from other rooms. resulting in less labor. easier installation and a lower design. www.or multiple- systems than conventional HVAC systems. installation and ease of maintenance. the ROI for Using VRF systems. Compared to similar 13-story office buildings. depending on the style of the building. 42 | 09.H VAC CASE STUDY SFPUC HEADQUARTERS San Francisco. With their magnetic bearing. complexity and installation time. that the solution is not cost-prohibitive at all.nzbmagazine. eliminating excessive energy usage. VRF zoning systems tend to have fewer components than conventional HVAC “Although the technology may have higher initial costs than older technologies. these chillers are 40% more energy efficient than traditional centrifugal compressor chillers.

PACKAGED AIR Modine has expanded its Atherion commercial packaged ventilation line with the introduction of the 7. Inc. VRF system adjusts to temperature fluctuations. with inverter technology to a low part load condition minimizes energy consumption to levels previously unattainable by non-VRF systems. www. Co.modinehvac. Modine’s B-Cabinet line includes 7-.com NET ZERO BUILDINGS | 09.nzbmagazine. The use of optimized scroll compressors.13 | 43 .com CIRCLE 297 zoning systems offer on-demand cooling and heating for individual zones—which reduces energy consumption—and consists of a type of direct expansion (DX) multi-split system that incorporates a variable capacity compressor with a network of multiple indoor fan coil units. and offers single (7-ton only) and tandem set modulating digital scroll compressors and a gas heat range of 150 to 400 MBH at 80% efficiency. The greatest contributor to system-wide energy efficiency is the employment of an inverterdriven compressor. and vice versa.” says Brendan Casey. Illustration: Johnson Controls special heat exchangers.H VAC VRF 101 ADVANCES TWO PIPE HEAT SYSTEM Cooling Mode Split-type air-conditioning systems are one-to-one systems consisting of one Creating energy efficient buildings with VRF systems offer architects and building owners the opportunity to design and install HVAC units that aren’t limited by ductwork runs. 225 or 310 MBH furnace options producing heat at 94% efficiency. from the compressor speeds. the Atherion features optional highefficiency gas heating and best-in-class MERV16 air fi ltration.1 standards for IEER efficiency and indoor air quality. 10-. With an airflow range of 1. 100% dedicated outside air unit. in this case.111 to 6.000 cfm. The indoor part (the evaporator) pulls heat out from the surrounding air while the outdoor condensing unit transfers the heat into the environment.1 and 62. has been optimized to produce the greatest efficiency. external condensing unit. highly efficient component that ensures the Inside the Technology VRF systems increase efficiency by providing cooling or heating only to the individual zones where comfort conditioning is required. THREE PIPE HEAT SYSTEM Simultaneous Cooling & Heating VRF systems are capable of simultaneously cooling one area while heating another. or.and 15-ton sizes. A multi-type air-conditioning system operates on the same principles. evaporator (fan coil) unit connected to an TWO PIPE HEAT SYSTEM Heating Mode Heat is exchanged intelligently between zones to meet the diverse comfort requirements of each individual zone. comfortable indoor 44X environment. Power consumption is reduced because the system operates only at the levels needed to maintain a constant. The modular design offers comfort on demand allowing the choice to use the system only in the zones where it is needed further promoting reduced energy consumption. commercial product manager. “Every feature from a VRF system. a highly responsive. and can transfer heat from spaces being cooled to spaces being heated. The expansion gives the full Atherion line eight models ranging from 7to 30-tons. there are ‘multiple’ evaporator units connected to one external condensing unit. Fujitsu General America. 175. www. Both the indoor and outdoor units are connected through copper tubing and electrical cabling. the expansion valve setting and the fan speed. 13. Its Energy Recovery Module (ERM) option makes the Atherion a high effi ciency. Designed to meet ASHRAE 189.to 15-ton B-cabinet. however. Modine Mfg.

” says Smith. W 43 To better understand the inverter-driven com- single-speed compressor that starts and stops.nzbmagazine. History Colorado Center museum’s eight vital “nerve centers”—four electrical rooms containing large transformers.-ft. Mitsubishi’s Smith explains.H VAC CASE STUDY MILE HIGH MUSEUM Denver. MKK needed a bulletproof. the room’s occupant chooses energy and reducing compressor life. B EC AU S E V R F S YS TE M S U T I L I ZE R EFR I G ER A N T PIPIN G TO DIS TR IBUTE C A PACIT Y. greatly reducing the number of condensing units on the roof. lighting and breaker panels.13 | NET ZERO BUILDINGS www. consuming more “Let’s compare its operation to a car’s cruise control. an inverter-driven compressor works at a lower speed to maintain the set point. security equipment and point-of-sale equipment. fi ber optic equipment. The Design Space its speed to match the temperature demand. requiring less mechanical room space. IP phone connectivity. THER E’S NO A IR LOSS W H EN COM PA R ED TO D U C TED S YS TE M S . and four data closets loaded with database servers. The inverter compressor varies Components of the system can be installed in smaller indoor/outdoor spaces. With the constant heat gain from these eight centers. Just as a car’s cruise control speed is set by its driver. Cisco network equipment. switchgear. thereby consuming only the minimum energy that is required. allowing them to design according to aesthetic rather than design- the speed as you drive up and down hills and ing spaces around HVAC. While on long stretches of road. much like a car in city traffic.com . which guarantees cooling operation down to -10°F. After it has been achieved. The eight crucial nerve systems in the History Colorado Center needed to have reliable temperature control when Rocky Mountain temperatures dipped below 0°F. pressor concept. “The systems allow around curves. “An inverter-driven compressor adjusts to maintain the desired set point. Th is leads to a reduction of electrical connections and roof penetrations. the car’s engine works automatically to maintain VRF zoning systems give architects and engineers more options. The team at MKK Consulting Engineers was interested in fi nding a reliable. Specifying Mitsubishi Electric’s VRF zoning system made better sense because it serves up to 50 indoor units with one outdoor unit. architects to add up to 10% to interior spaces by creating additional floor-to-ceiling height. The design team was urged to consider specifying a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning system from Mitsubishi Electric equipped with a Low Ambient Cooling Kit. as they often do. highperformance HVAC system to protect the 200. an analog phone network. Compare this to a conventional 44 | 09.000-sq. Colo.” the room’s temperature for the inverter-driven compressor. mission-critical system to keep the temperature in these rooms at the constant 76°F required by the State Office of Information Technology (OIT).

” says Smith.” says Casey. One of the key components of the retrofi t was replacing an outdated HVAC system comprised of selfcontained vertical units on each floor. Moreover. Avail- systems utilize refrigerant piping to distribute capacity. www.-ft. The compressor also is housed in its own compartment surrounded by sound retrofitting older buildings with minimal disruption to the existing structure.000-sq. the company’s organization for start-ups. any building design. HVAC costs includes more than equipment. In collaboration with mechanical engineers at Guth DeConzo Consulting. System configurations allow for architects to design to the aesthetic vs. the WeWork construction team determined that a VRF system was the best solution . Th is benefit alone can contrib- able in air. And. The condenser fan rarely runs at full speed and is designed for quiet performance.nzbmagazine.” adds Smith. LG’s Multi V III Heat Pump system was the only solution that could fi t within the limited footprint on the rooftop and offer both horizontal and vertical piping distances required to deliver custom temperature control to more than 50 individual zones on multiple floors. the load can be dis- inverter-driven compressor modulates up and down smoothly. multiple styles of compact indoor units can be installed in many different locations. Operational sound levels of VRF zoning systems are significantly lower systems are 31% lighter than chilled-water than those of conventional central forced air or boiler systems. VRF zoning systems are ideal for densing units are greatly reduced because the systems. including costs. in addition to housing WeWork Labs. “Sound levels in the con- tributed across an existing structure or avoided by mounting on the ground. design based on limitations of conventional central ducted system. because VRF Compact outdoor units also offer greater design flexibility than traditional heat pumps.or water-source models with a wide variety of capacities. originally constructed in 1927. with sound ratings as low truly comprehensive comparison of up-front as 29 dB(A).com NET ZERO BUILDINGS | 09. within the ceiling. complexity of connecting integration. space in New York’s Hudson Square/Soho West neighborhood to renovate for shared offi ce space. “A very large space with a single set temperature and is important to keep in mind potential hidden costs such as consulting/engineering design potential electrical and/or structural modifications in a building. “VRF A noisy air-conditioning system can be a distraction for employees and lead to complaints from tenants. WeWork identifi ed a 75. Establishing WeWork collaborative work environments often involves retrofi ts of existing buildings. In 2012. there’s no air loss when compared to ducted systems. Sound levels for the outdoor units range from It’s hard to imagine any commercial build- 19 dB(A) at low speed to 49 dB(A) at high speed— quieter than a refrigerator. sacrificing interior outdoor and indoor equipment and controls ing where VRF wouldn’t be ideal.H VAC VRF systems remove losses that are unavoidable in other ducted systems. Indoor units are where noisy HVAC equipment is acceptable is not a good application for VRF. Because of the ease of installation. essentially quieter than a human whisper. CASE STUDY SOHO RENOVATION The Soho project involved the careful renovation of a historic 10-story building. so they are easier to handle and cost less to transport. while working within the constraints of the building’s historic architecture.13 | 45 . installation tooling. A also extremely quiet. including a maintenance operation’s room. high or low on walls or on the floor. insulation. these modular systems are easy to install and can be tailored to almost ute 30% to comparative energy savings. rigging and labor. including placement on a rooftop. It Designed to blend into their environments. Compact units can be transported to the floors or the roof via the elevator.

Heating and Plumbing. F T. CASE STUDY COVE AT YARMOUTH West Yarmouth. Management decided it was time to make a change.” he said.com .400 a month savings. to make life-cycle costing a mainstream criteria for building system evaluation. a 229-suite resort.000 to 100. The study is expected to be completed this fall. who attended a training class on the system. in this case. roughly a $1. but unlike a tankless system. Th e retrofi t involved the installation of 21 Eternal GU195S water heaters and five storage tanks. One of the storage tanks. but that there was a lack of tools to evaluate life cycle costs. Before the retrofi t.” said Service Manager Richard Toma of Murphy’s Air Conditioning. IN THE NEWS CABA Launches Research Project The Continental Automated Buildings Assn. demonstrated the best return on investment for integrated systems. But it was throwing money down the drain with its former hot water heating system. ft. (CABA). has a high demand for hot water. A previous CABA assessment found that offi ce buildings of 50. 199.13 | NET ZERO BUILDINGS hot water. Installation of the system has led to a 12% reduction in the complex’s energy bill. the Cove had 23 standard 100-gallon. Within an eight to 10 year period. Hybrid water heaters from Eternal were recommended because of the equipment’s dependability.H VAC The retrofi t of the resort’s hot water system from a traditional system to a hybrid system was an easy decision as beyond significant energy savings. energy efficiency. The report will outline the current state of life-cycle cost adoption in today’s commercial buildings market and identify the key infl uencers across the value chain. Mass. it has a small reserve tank inside to maintain water pressure and avoid temperature fl uctuation. through its Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council. athletic facilities. CABA’s new project will identify barriers to adopting life-cycle costing and determine what issues need to be rectified in order to make processes more understandable. is 80 gallons. and by whom. the resort had to replace 1-2 hot water tanks per year. ease of installation and mainly. S TU D I E S H AV E FO U N D T H AT O FFI CE B U I L D I N GS 50. has close to zero carbon emissions. The report will also identify what are the most effective lifecycle cost value propositions that resonate with these decisionmakers. The Cove at Yarmouth.000 BTU hot water tanks that also served the resort’s restaurant.0 0 0 -SQ. laundry rooms. The system allows installers to use a single unit or multiple units with additional storage to accommodate large applications that have an unpredictable high demand for 46 | 09. has launched a collaborative research study entitled “Life Cycle Costing and Intelligent Buildings. The unit provides endless hot water. DEMONS TR ATE THE BE S T R E T U R N O N I N V E S TM EN T FO R I N T EG R ATED S YS TE M S .” The core objective of the project is to identify what needs to be done. is lead free. and exceeds Energy Star standards. “It was a seamless installation that went smoothly. and the other four are 120-gallon tanks. www.0 0 0 TO 10 0. the resort had been replacing tanks at a rate of one to two per year.000-sq. Eternal offers 98% efficiency. The research will also be designed to identify the challenges and opportunities that exist for broader adoption of life-cycle costs techniques within the value chain and identify who is best positioned to carry the value proposition to decision makers and develop recommendations.nzbmagazine. “I felt Eternal offered amazing tech support. and other common area restrooms.