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Green Heating and Cooling System to Create Better Environment

16 Oct 2023

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning or HVAC is essential in green building design. In the past, people used to install heating and cooling systems without knowing how they might impact the overall environment. But today’s professionals are aware that installing an eco-friendly HVAC system can lead to sustainable home and save on energy bills. The traditional HVAC units use pricey fossil fuels to operate which seem to be less efficient when compared to alternative technologies. Read on to know about this system which impacts green building design.

Types of green heating & cooling systems‍

Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs)‍

These heat pumps use ambient air from outside the building as heat sink or heat source. Heat pumps work in the same way to refrigerators and ambient air shifts over the coil in the outdoor unit for heat exchange. On the other hand, indoor unit acts as condenser or evaporator for delivering hot or cold air to the interior of the building.

Different kinds of air source heat pumps

  • Mini-split heat pumps – These systems consist of one indoor and one outdoor unit. In the case of apartment buildings, each apartment will have their own mini-split system which let tenants to set their own room temperature.
  • Multi-split heat pumps – These indoor units will attach to either one or many outdoor units in the system. Indoor units may be set to different temperatures but outdoor units will either remain in heating or cooling mode as it cannot provide both heating and cooling properties simultaneously.
  • Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) heat pumps – These systems are somewhat alike to multi-split systems and they seem to provide both heating and cooling at the same time. So, indoor units can deliver hot or cold air, according to the demand.

Air source heat pumps will deliver air directly to a room with an indoor unit. Systems can even use existing ductwork of the building for delivery.

Ground source (Geothermal) heat pumps‍

These heat pumps work in the same way to air source heat pumps though the heat source is solar energy that has been stored in the ground. They are very efficient when used in single-family and multi-family residences but they generally have higher upfront costs when compared to air source heat pumps.

A ground source pump needs to transfer heat throughout the building which may restrict efficiency for larger installations. The hot or cold air comes from the ground and heat energy loss is a major factor when heat travels through long distances. Cold climate usually give better return on investment when installed properly in larger buildings. ‍

Ice powered air conditioning‍

Ice storage systems generally freeze large quantities of water during the night. They use ice in place of a refrigerant for cooling air during the day. Though this green air conditioning technology can reduce consumption of energy, it has many significant drawbacks.

Ice-powered systems can provide cold air till the ice melts completely. During the hot days, this may generate several hours of energy-efficient cooling only. When ice melts, the system will be using a traditional refrigerant. These units use large amount of water and are not a feasible option in the case of larger buildings.‍

Alternative fuel combustion HVAC systems‍

Green HVAC systems choose renewable fuels such as biodiesel than fossil fuels. This restricts ecological impact of heating and air conditioning by lessening carbon output.

But alternative fuels are usually expensive than natural gas. Though biofuels seem to be a good option ecologically, they do not have any return in terms of investment. ‍

Why upgrading to green heating and cooling is a good choice

Air source heat pumps provide green heating and cooling with all-electric design. On the other hand, modern air source heat pumps render eco-friendly solution for the residential and commercial buildings. Though ASHP may have higher costs for installation than fossil fuel systems, the state and federal energy incentives may offset this cost.

With the upgradation to air conditioning and green heating units, the building owners will get immediate benefits which include the following:

  • Reduce costs in energy bills – Air source water pumps may lessen electricity usage by almost 50 percent. The electric systems offer efficient air conditioning when the system seems to be ductless. In the case of single-family houses, cold climate heat pumps render yearly savings that seem to be more significant for larger buildings.
  • Improve satisfaction of tenants – Air source heat pump systems offer flexible control of temperature. But residents can keep the units in control and some heat pumps may set different temperature for the rooms in the office or apartment. After the installation is done, the units will operate properly and need restricted maintenance. For multi-family houses and commercial buildings, the heat pumps may lessen tenant complaints and enhance retention capacity. The new tenants will find eco-friendly heating system to be a good selling point.
  • Better quality of air – If you burn fuel in the basement and send it through a wide network of ductwork, then you are sending mold, carbon and other pollutants to each room. Heat pumps will not burn fossil fuels and this decreases your risk of exposure to carbon monoxide. When you want to compare it with traditional HVAC, these heat pumps provide humidity balance and the filters in indoor units will help to get rid of dust and allergens. When the heat pump uses ductwork, the air quality will improve significantly.‍
  • Follow regulatory compliance – Building decarbonization and electrification are some key fixtures of the regulatory landscape. Municipalities are now updating building codes for some form of green HVAC and so, it is suggested to remain prepared.

Different types of heating and cooling equipment for HVAC professionals

Here are heating and cooling equipment popular among the building professionals as they are easy to install and affordable in price:

  • Solar heating and cooling systems: These panels will absorb sun rays and convert them in the form of electricity or heat by means of photoelectric effect.
  • Air source heat pumps: They have some difference in temperature between inside and outside air. It can shift heat energy from one place to another with the help of a refrigerant in an HVAC unit called air handler.
  • Geothermal heat pumps: They use temperature difference between ground and air to pump hot or cold water with pipes known as geothermal loops. These transfer heat energy to or from the building for heating or cooling purpose.

Necessary concerns for HVAC systems in green building design

Having eco-friendly HVAC system will make sustainable home which means you can save on the energy costs. Other than financial benefits of green building design, these systems can reduce carbon footprint and enhance overall health.

When designing HVAC system, it should fulfill the requirements of a green building design. Below are some considerations that are the right practice for all:

  • Keep it simple: It is necessary to make an efficient system that combines several functions into one unit such as – heating and cooling with dehumidification. This can lessen the complexity in the ductwork and make it easier to maintain. Also, it will lessen consumption of energy by eliminating the requirement for various components running at the same time on separate circuits.
  • Reduce waste: The objective should be to close all the loops. So, nothing will be lost such as heat generated by different electronics. Reducing waste will keep things run smoothly and there won’t be any requirement for maintenance when dust builds up or corrosion occurs due to proper drainage.

So, green building design is about creating comfortable space for the people to live and work. By bringing green technologies into your project, you can create an environment that will benefit your pocket and the earth.