explore the BusinessNet

Creating the right balance between energy efficient ventilation systems and a healthy working environment


Creating the right balance between energy efficient ventilation systems and a healthy working environment- Paul Kilburn, Vent-Axia?s Group Sales and Marketing Director discusses:

Commercial Air Management, whether it is heating, cooling or ventilation, is about providing a comfortable healthy working environment for all. Decent indoor air quality is crucial to the successful performance of any building.

An effective ventilation system is seen as a key factor in reducing the oppressive atmosphere created by hot, stuffy working conditions. The introduction of fresh air and the subsequent removal of airborne contaminants greatly contribute towards a more productive workforce and are an essential part of providing a comfortable working environment.

In many commercial buildings, particularly older ones, ventilation is achieved either by the occupants opening windows or from natural air infiltration percolating through gaps in the building fabric. This can result in excessive ventilation rates that increase energy consumption and cause discomfort to occupants due to cold draughts. Too much ventilation is wasteful of energy, but too little ventilation is detrimental to the health and well being of both the occupants as well as to the building fabric.

Clearly, in an energy-efficient building, keeping ventilation and leakage to a minimum level required is desirable. The way to achieve adequate ventilation with minimal waste of heat is to implement a well thought-out ventilation strategy that provides a proper balance between energy efficiency and indoor air quality. To implement such a strategy it is important for designers to take into consideration the technological advances that have been made in ventilation and to utilise such systems to help them achieve a workable balance.

The fundamentally new approach to the Building Regulations is necessitating designers to learn how to meet whole-building carbon targets (Part L2A) ? supported by the freely available SBEM (Simplified Building Energy Model) and the various commercial software packages to calculate the energy used by a building.

Heat recovery ventilation is designed for recovering heat that would otherwise be lost using normal extract ventilation. HRV products can be either single room units or wholebuilding systems.

Stale air is extracted from the room or the whole building; while at the same time air from outside is brought into the room/buildings offering a balanced intake/extract system. The two air paths flow through a heat exchanger where a significant amount of heat from the extracted air is transferred to the incoming air and delivered back into the room or buildings.

With many commercial properties being built today, the principle is to ?build tight ? ventilate right?, minimising uncontrolled air leakage through the building envelope and providing an adequate ventilation rate via a controlled system. Reducing air leakage is essential with new build properties being tightly built, optimising ventilation and heat recovery are the key to providing a comfortable environment.

Whilst the emphasis is on providing filtered, fresher air and the displacement/extraction of stale air and allergens to keep employees healthy, there is also a clear focus on energy saving too. In the quest for energy savings consistent with proper air quality and with the ability to recover as much as 95% of heat from a ventilated room, heat recovery systems provide a real means of achieving both the air flow requirements for human comfort in Part F and the energy efficiency requirements of Part L with full controllability.

Heat recovery provides a great basis to start to build an air management strategy and designers have to employ the latest advances in technology to meet the Building Regulations. There are a number of specifically designed products that assist designers to meet and exceed these requirements.

Advances in ventilation technology include key factors as balancing carbon dioxide levels in a school classroom, providing adequate ventilation of toilet and shower blocks, cooling of offices in summer, efficiently heating meeting rooms in winter and the management of emissions from specialist areas such as laboratories, fire exits and industrial kitchens.

Air handling units provide designers with the option to control indoor air quality by room, by floor or for the entire building, whether in an office, classroom, factory, hospital or leisure centre. Air handling units are a common way of creating a good working environment and Vent-Axia?s new modular Viking FP and XP Air Handling range is specifically designed for commercial applications and provide a selection of cooling, heating, filtration, heat recovery and humidifier modules, allowing building designers increased flexibility in specifying solutions to meet their design and ventilation needs while balancing the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and Building Regulations Parts F and L.

Advances in technology have helped property managers analyse buildings` energy consumption and develop strategies to manage energy more efficiently resulting in lower total operating costs.

Another example of this is Vent-Axia?s Sentinel demand ventilation system, which helps to protect the environment with energy efficient on-demand ventilation for commercial buildings in line with new legislation. This system utilises the latest control and EC/DC motor technology to respond to the exact ventilation requirements of a room at any one time – supplying or extracting when and to the level required, therefore using only the energy that is necessary. This innovative method overcomes many of the issues encountered with a traditional fixed volume ventilation system that is either on or off irrespective of the number of people in the room, thus risking over ventilation of the room and wasting valuable money and energy.

Triggered by people entering/leaving a room or by the atmospheric conditions in the area, automatic sensors and controllers manage the Sentinel according to maximum demand requirements of the building zone. The system then controls airflow and pressure to maintain the indoor air quality within preset limits, including balancing carbon dioxide levels, temperature, humidity and air quality itself. The Sentinel system is the ideal solution for designers; its innovative technology not only saves energy but the system creates and maintains a healthy working environment.

Significant advances have been made by Vent-Axia in the use of LoWatt DC motor and heat recovery technology, which according to their usage can save as much as half of the electrical power consumption. The Sentinel uses the latest EC/DC motor technology, drawing a low specific fan power, designed to meet modern building management control requirements. By controlling the atmospheric levels in the room, carbon dioxide levels can be kept within the prescribed limits, required by Building Bulletin 101 ? a must for school classrooms and learning environments.

Today’s health and environmentally aware design philosophies, it is critical to the success of a commercial building to provide indoor air quality suitable for a productive working environment whilst using the minimum amount of energy possible, in line with the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Part L and indeed Part F of the Building Regulations.

New regulations and legislation are challenging Property Managers to bring their buildings up to the required standard that are now being demanded, however, by considering such technological advances and using systems that already exceed these new rules, building engineers can provide healthy environments which use the minimum amount of energy.

View Ventilux's profile: