According to the Department of Energy, the number of commercial buildings and industrial facilities in the United States is nearly 6 million. For any commercial building, whether a hotel, factory, data center, or warehouse, the HVAC system is key to profitability and energy efficiency, as well as to retaining leaseholders and keeping them satisfied.
Is your commercial building in need of an upgraded HVAC system? Here are five indications that the time for a new system has arrived.
HVAC equipment is not designed to last more than 25 or 30 years, and for some commercial buildings, that time has elapsed. The older the equipment, the more maintenance, repairs, and downtime, all of which add to the total cost of operation. At the same time, complaints about lack of service or poor service are likely to increase, and may even cause the building to lose tenants.
Poor indoor air quality
If tenants complain about fumes or allergens, or are experiencing dizziness, increased respiratory problems, asthma attacks, or even outbreaks of illness such as Legionnaire’s disease, a new HVAC system may be in order. Sick building syndrome is a real threat to the health of occupants, as well as the productivity of workers, and in some cases, may only be combated with new HVAC equipment which improves air filtration and increases ventilation rates and air distribution.
If a building is undergoing a significant expansion, or being rehabbed for a new type of commercial activity, an upgraded or enlarged HVAC system may be necessary. Building codes require a certain volume of airflow per occupant, and if the current HVAC system cannot provide that amount, it must be augmented with additional equipment, or completely replaced with a larger system. Some kinds of activities, such as data centers, require much larger cooling capacities to maintain critical electronics within maximum operating temperatures.
Energy costs climbing
Energy costs have been rising steadily, and are expected to increase as efficiency regulations become more stringent. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, HVAC represents as much as 40 percent to 60 percent of the total energy consumed by commercial buildings. By using variable frequency drives (VFDs) and advance software and controls, the latest HVAC equipment can adjust heating, cooling, and ventilation in a more efficient way, reducing energy costs and paying for itself relatively quickly.
Going a step further, by installing “smart sensors” as part of an upgraded HVAC system, facility engineers can optimize comfort for the building’s occupants, while even further minimizing energy use and cost. Smart sensors and networks can increase the intelligence and connectivity among lighting, HVAC, safety and security systems. As a result, the building automation system will be able to detect and remedy hot and cool spots, while vacancy sensors can shut off heating or cooling in unoccupied areas.
If your building is displaying one or more of these five indicators, begin planning your HVAC upgrade as soon as possible. It’s better to complete a well-thought out plan and do the work proactively before a catastrophic failure forces an upgrade to be done on an emergency basis at top dollar. This preventive maintenance is big part of your overall HVAC training program.