HVAC engineers are actively engaged in developing sustainable building design. Energy-efficient HVAC technologies, developed by HVAC engineers, can be at the forefront in reducing emissions, and minimizing the threat to the global climate. The green building movement is creating a wealth of opportunities for builders, HVAC engineers, contractors and facility managers to better serve their customers and protect the environment.
With unstable utility costs, and energy production a major contributor to global warming, energy efficiency is increasingly important for heating and cooling systems. In the home, utility costs for heating and cooling on average, account for 45 percent of home energy expenses. Often, in a traditional home, recommendations to make HVAC systems more energy-efficient involve upgrading equipment, and sealing and insulating ducts. This often leads to major remodeling projects, as holes are made into walls and ceilings. Tearing out walls may be necessary simply to pinpoint the location of ductwork.
HVAC engineers have developed new building procedures that organize ductwork and wiring into open pathways, such as spaces within the walls, or open web joists underneath the floors. This gives repairmen access to the HVAC ducts simply by removing panels.
Homes built with better organized and accessible utilities more than pay for the additional cost over the life of the structure, according HVAC engineers. In addition to being able to manage all HVAC maintenance and upgrades without ripping out walls, homeowners with mold problems could save tens of thousands of dollars in remediation costs.
As HVAC engineers create new, more energy efficient equipment, ductwork, and other technologies, having open and accessible access to them allows for fast, easy upgrades. The new upgraded equipment can save costs in energy usage, and, thereby, cut emissions from energy production.
HVAC engineers have the following recommendations for new buildings:
- Use open-web trusses. These typically consist of a wood top and bottom chord and wood web materials, connected at joints with metal plates. Open-web trusses allow for easier routing of utilities.
- Build in vertical chases, enclosed channels that run through wall space, in which to route wiring, plumbing and ducts. Vertical chases increase accessibility for upgrades and maintenance.
- Install drop ceilings, which create more unobstructed space for ducts, utilities, and plumbing. Removable ceiling panels allow easy access to utilities routed within these spaces.