A comparative study on HVAC air distribution systems has highlighted the importance of energy efficiency and plant commissioning.

The ARBS Education and Research Foundation, in conjunction with Team Catalyst, released the results of its latest sponsored research, which it believes to be a world-first comparative study in dynamic simulation analysis of three types of HVAC air distribution systems.

These systems include passive chilled beam, underfloor air distribution and variable air volume.

“[As] far as we know, there is no other building simulation study comparing these forms of air distribution,” said Foundation Chairman, Ian Hopkins.

The Foundation said the study wasn’t intended to determine if one system was superior to another, but rather to compare the operational outcome of the systems that are most prevalent in commercial buildings around Australia.

The outcome of this comparative simulated study provides valuable information to engineers and technical staff engaged in HVAC design and monitoring how systems actually operate in practice.  Building managers and others interested in ensuring that HVAC equipment operates efficiently and at the lowest energy cost will benefit from information derived in the study.

“Using data from the simulation of a typical ten-storey commercial building in Sydney, the study provides predicted energy intensity for each of the three systems. Specific readings are likely to vary at other locations, but the findings of the study provide an important starting point for analysis and decision-making in other locations,” said Ashak Nathawni AM, Foundation board member.

The study also draws attention to energy efficiency, and the need for HVAC equipment to be the correct size for the building it serves. Far too often, HVAC installations are oversized, particularly in central chilled water plant.

The study underscores the important role that proper plant commissioning plays in its operational efficiency.

A copy of the full report is available for downloading from the Foundation website.

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