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Indoor Air Quality and Energy Conservation—Working Together For Healthier, More Efficient Buildings

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sometimes it seems that many energy conservation measures related to HVAC systems are incompatible with providing good indoor air quality (IAQ). However, with a little forethought and proper maintenance, significant energy savings from HVAC-system use can be achieved while still providing good IAQ. Follow these simple guidelines and see how you can improve air quality and maximize energy conservation for your building.

At a base level, take care to provide adequate ventilation and always meet the standards of ASHRAE 62.1-2016.

A good starting point is to understand the basic HVAC energy conservation or retrofit measures that are compatible with IAQ, including:

  • Tightening the building shell, as long as adequate ventilation is provided
  • Reducing internal loads with lighting or office equipment upgrades (if these measures reduce air flow requirements, be sure to consider the increased outdoor air necessary to maintain ventilation requirements)
  • Upgrading fans, motors and drives
  • Upgrading chillers and boilers
  • Installing energy recovery ventilation systems (ERV)
  • Equipment downsizing
Speer Mechanical March 2017 Blog

There are also operational improvements and other measures compatible with IAQ that can positively impact air quality while at the same time improving energy efficiency. These include:

  • Proper preventive maintenance to remove potential contaminants while ensuring efficient operation of HVAC components
  • Use of economizers (air or water)
  • Night pre-cooling (remember to consider humidity control)
  • Reducing demand charges (use caution with load shedding that reduces outdoor air during building occupancy)
  • Supplying air temperature resets (practice appropriate control strategies and consider humidity concerns)
  • CO2 controlled ventilation (use proper control strategies and consistent calibration)

Be sure to use caution with energy strategies like these:

  • Reducing outdoor ventilation below ASHRAE standards –remember, those standards are in place to provide for dilution of potential pollutants in the occupied spaces
  • Reduction in HVAC operating hours – to maintain proper ventilation, be sure to provide appropriate lead-in time prior to occupancy, and do not shut down HVAC equipment prior to people leaving the building
  • Relaxation of temperature or humidity set points below industry standards – recognize this can make it difficult to properly diagnose any potential problems

Discover how the LEED accredited professionals at Speer Mechanical can help with all your energy needs and concerns to make your building healthier for occupants and more energy efficient for you. Contact us at 614.261.6331 for more information.

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