Trends in HVAC aren’t really much different than trends that affect the present and future performance of other building systems. The cost of petroleum and other energy sources has risen in recent years, and will likely continue to rise well into the future. Throughout the building industry, therefore, we see consumers demanding products that use less energy, last longer and cause less harm to the environment. Governments are aware of these consumer demands and have been legislating new energy performance standards for building products, with environmental impact standards right alongside those. This will likely continue into the foreseeable future.

The cost of energy is variable; but the days of ten cent gas and cheap electricity are over. Given this, it’s essential for facility owners and managers to maximize energy cost savings wherever and whenever they can in order to operate a building or buildings efficiently and profitably in competitive environments.

Fortunately, today’s HVAC units are built to meet this challenge. Like so many other types of equipment and machinery, HVAC units get a little better every year. This year’s models run slightly more efficiently than last year’s models, and so it has gone, generally speaking, year in and year out.

Because newer models run more efficiently than older models, they use less energy, and cost less to operate. As environmental concerns continue to grow, and sustainability eventually transcends the ‘movement’ phase (if it hasn’t already done so – some argue it has), newer models are also more ozone-friendly. Expect this trend to continue into the future as regulations and codes tighten even further.

One of the most dramatic trends today: Assessing system performance relative to improvements in other building systems

HVAC is only one building system. Other systems contribute to a building’s overall energy efficiency as well. And it’s important to remember that the energy impact of one system can fundamentally affect others within a built space.

Quantifying those effects can help you, as a facility manager, strategize and specify the right HVAC units to meet your requirements. This is a growing trend that you as a facility manager will definitely want to heed.

Take lighting. Only a few short years ago, halogen lighting was the predominant lighting type for most commercial applications. Today, halogens are being replaced in all commercial building types with more energy efficient LEDs, T8s and compact fluorescents. These newer lights generate less heat, and thus, reduce the cooling demands placed on HVAC units.

There’s money to be saved all around as a result. For example, corporate leaders at Macy’s department stores spent more than $30 million in 2011 to switch out existing halogen and metal halide floodlight spots at stores nationwide. Consequently, these new lights emitted significantly less heat, and Macy’s was able to decommission 25% of the HVAC units on its store roofs.

Certainly, this bold decision necessitated a significant capital expenditure for the company at the outset of the project. But it enabled Macy’s to save big on the energy cost of its lighting – and it cut the company’s HVAC expenditure by more than 20% annually.

We’ve focused the last few blog posts on the importance of planned HVAC replacement, and specific rooftop replacement program strategies. When attempting to build your own planned replacement program, we think it’s critical to consider the role that other building systems play in overall energy usage within a facility.

Think about your facility or facilities for a moment. Are you planning a lighting replacement program? If so, have you determined how your new and more efficient lights will affect heating loads? Just as important, what if you’re planning to replace one or more HVAC units in the next year or so? Have you already identified the number of units to be replaced, and the types of units that will replace them?

If so, keep in mind that the new units will work in environments with different heating and cooling requirements than their predecessors. So given this, are you now, in reality, buying too much unit, or too little, for these requirements? Perhaps some of the existing units you planned to replace might operate efficiently for a few more years as a result of the reduced heating load from your new efficient lighting. Your planned replacement of say, 10 units, could potentially be amended to eight units. Those two additional replacements could then be planned for, say, five years down the road.

What we’re trying to convey is that one building system affects another, and another, and so on. This has always been the case, but as efficiency standards rise, the trend toward analysis of their mutual effects on one another will increase. In the case of HVAC, identifying as much information as possible up front about other systems – and analyzing it thoughtfully – can help you determine the specific requirements of your HVAC unit – and which one is best equipped to meet those needs.

As we said before, it’s not an easy calculation. There are many factors to consider. CLS’ various Logic models – PM Logic®, QC Logic® and CM Logic® – are designed to do this for you in order to help you make smart decisions about your equipment and your facility or facilities – in every regard. We put a great deal of time, thought and energy into their development, and our payoff is seeing the enormous difference they make in our clients’ businesses.

We look forward to sharing information about other critical building systems and issues in future blogs. We live this stuff, and we love it, so it’s a pleasure for us to share our knowledge and insights with you.

To learn more about our proprietary PM Logic, QC Logic and CM Logic, or CLSs’ HVAC services, or all other CLS services, please call us at 800-548-3542.