HVAC systems have evolved. Vendors have on offer latest technologies, and developers are keenly looking at solutions with long-lasting benefits.
By Jayashree Kini Mendes
Broadly speaking, HVAC systems can be centralised in a building, or local to the space they are serving, or a combination of both (for example, local air handling units supplied by centrally-generated cooling). They may also be connected to a wider district heating or cooling network. But they are necessary. They’re an essential component of environments where there are health regulations requiring that temperature and humidity be kept at certain levels, using air taken from outside.
Heating and cooling systems used in homes are also HVAC systems. They may take a different form, but many of the fundamental principles determining how they operate, as well as their efficiency, crosses over from the smallest of personal devices right through to the biggest commercial installations.
HVAC technology combines a variety of topics: from general communication standards in building technologies, the role hydraulics plays in heating and cooling, room automation, lighting and shading technologies to the functionality of sensors and their proper installation and adjustment.
THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE
Heating and cooling a large building can consume a tremendous amount of energy, that can be wasted without a proper system in place to regulate the building to ensure clean air and a comfortable temperature. Energy waste is a result of inefficient design, equipment and system control causing equipment to use energy when it is not necessary.
It’s the reason why developers and buyers alike look for products that rate high on energy efficiency and offer cost savings. In the current scenario, most of the questions surrounding HVAC is about energy efficiency. Vendors, globally and Indian, are keeping a sharp eye out for any technology or innovation that can help them tweak their machines and products and offer this to users. These systems are a ripe target for energy savings across a range of facility types: They typically account for 30-40% of energy use in health care facilities and college campuses and 65% of the energy used in pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. Chilled water systems also consume substantial amounts of water. Commercial buildings often draw more water for cooling and heating than for any other use — including the obvious ones. Water consumption varies by climate and building type, but studies show the HVAC system may account for up to 48 percent of a building’s water consumption, with restrooms and kitchens using 31-37% , and landscaping accounting for only 18-22%.
Vikram Murthy, national president elect, ISHRAE, says, “Development in the real estate sector has been happening in the two areas – residential and large commercial projects. Nowadays, developers also want to provide modern facilities like air conditioning. A developer doesn’t have environment or energy saving obligation. However, they try to choose the technology which is not only energy efficient and environment-friendly but also reasonable at the same time. Buyers also want to buy a flat which already has air conditioning so that they remain worry-free on their part.”
Designing HVAC systems for real estate calls for a certain judiciousness. Prashant Mewada, director, operations, Runwal Group, says that of all the parameters, energy savings takes top priority. HVAC installations have a capital cost and operational cost. Since energy bill keep on recurring, technology plays a prime role in choice.”
Explaining how his company has been strongly focussed on bettering solutions regularly, Sunil Khatwani, business head & VP, system air conditioning division, LG Electronics India, says, “LG has been focussed on Greenovation i.e. Green+innovation as a key mantra for product development in addition to other aspects like energy efficiency, size, weight, noise level, etc. We have introduced highly energy efficient all inverter VRF systems (Multi V), inverter based cassette/floor standing/ducted units, inverter-based split AC’s, magnetic bearing centrifugal chillers and air bearing centrifugal chillers.”
The company was also the first HVAC company in India to completely shift to inverter and green gas based split AC’s from January 1, 2017. This was replicated for all light commercial AC products from January 1, 2018. Going forward, users will see more launches of technologically advanced products in India that exceed customer expectations.
The company has three kinds of VRF systems viz. high energy efficiency VRF systems (Multi V), unique water cooled VRF systems, and Hydrokit. Besides this, it has magnetic bearing centrifugal chillers (oil free), air bearing centrifugal chillers (oil free), inverter scroll chillers (air cooled), inverter ducted units (high static), inverter ducted units (low static), inverter cassette units, Inverter floor standing units & inverter rooftop units with a green gas.
LG has created a separate projects vertical within the product division to handle direct projects as well as monitor projects handled by channel partners. The projects team includes senior personnel with MEP experience. This assures clients about quality and timeliness and provides a true one-stop-shop approach.
Energy-efficient equipment on its own is not enough: Maximising performance requires optimisation software that orchestrates the whole system to utilise the equipment’s designed efficiency. Over time, equipment performance will drift, and the system will need to be adjusted in real time.
MAKING EFFICIENCY POSSIBLE
In India, the residential sector is opting for Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) air conditioning system. In this system, one single box is placed on every floor and it may be connected to many cooling units in the same house or floor. It is also easy to install. The demand for the VRF has witnessed rapid growth because the developers get a higher price when they sell a feature-rich house. Also, the National Building Code is also slowly being adopted and this will further give a push to energy efficiency and to environmental safety, says Murthy of ISHRAE.
Speaking of what real estate companies take into consideration when scouting for HVAC solutions, Aniruddh Bapat, head, MEP, central procurement & contracts, L&T Realty, says, “Consideration for HVAC design varies for the place we design it for. For instance, the occupancy at malls is high, whereas an office building is constant. There is a norm of per sq-ft. to be considered when designing an HVAC system. Height is also an important factor for air conditioning as the volume of air conditioning differs from height to height. Humidity and cooling loads are also incorporated into HVAC design.”
Besides capital and operational cost, Rajiv Batura, sr. VP, MEP, Omkar Realtors & Developers, says, “There are vendors who offer variant refrigerant flow (VRF) which means lesser initial capital cost and operating cost. We look for one solution for high-rises that will optimise capital cost and offers latest technology, and is also compatible with smart homes. Availability of spares is a criteria that must be taken into consideration, while the technology must be scalable.”
For those developing mainly commercial properties, HVAC cost is looked at keenly. Sandeep Mehta, head contracts, Shree Naman Group, says that inverter based technology, running cost and efficiency is what his company keep a sharp eye on. When designing an HVAC, the total room size as per the cooling capacity it offers is factored in and the complete circuit designed accordingly. In technical terms we call it diversity. So rooms with the least diversity must be constructed in BIM. We are spoilt for choice in terms of water-based cooling towers, compressor-based, VRF, etc, but understand the intended application.”
Most often, users get taken in with the array of devices that a developer may offer. But they also realise that they will need to pay AMCs on them after taking possession of the apartment. Bhavin Khant, procurement head, Dosti Realty, says that whatever be the case, the devices should be user-friendly and the AMC cost must be reasonable. Give the residents all the service information and the offer solutions that give maximum years of service. That was they are assured of the benefits of the solutions.
All in all, vendors need to provide energy efficient products to the real estate developers which should not only be acceptable to them but should also come at a reasonable price.