INSIGHTS, RESOURCES & EVENTS

Answering Your HVAC Questions

As we continue to spend a large proportion of our lifetime at work and within the workplace, staff wellbeing and comfort is becoming ever more important in ensuring satisfaction and a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. As people-orientated designers here at Calibro, we consider every design detail in order to create spaces that meet the growing demands for better working environments. One design aspect growing in importance post-Covid-19 is HVAC, a system often hidden from sight, yet one that plays a vital role in creating healthier, cleaner and more comfortable working environments.

We take a deeper dive into HVAC to understand its function within the office building, and how it’s shaping more productive workplaces for the future…

1. What does HVAC mean?

HVAC is an abbreviation used for the words heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

HVAC is responsible for both heating and cooling a building. It’s also a source of proper ventilation, allowing for moisture to escape.

HVAC units can take on many shapes and sizes, all offering different benefits depending on their design and the spaces they’re being used in. Units may include any combination of the following:

Boilers – These often use gas or oil to generate heat that ultimately heats the building via heat transmitters such as radiator. Many companies now look to alternative sources for heating, as Boilers rely on non-renewable resources, and omit large quantities of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere.

Air conditioning units – These are mainly used to cool a space (although some can provide heat), by removing the warm air and moisture in a space, and replacing it with cooler air. There are a wide selection of Air Conditioning units available, the most popular use condenser units that use a refrigerant in them which is piped to an internal unit. These are often called a Split System.  This type of unit only cools, (and some provide heating) but do not provide fresh air. They just recirculate the air within the office.

Although the current Air conditioning systems are very efficient and provide a good source of heating and cooling they don’t supply fresh, oxygenated air which is required for the health and wellbeing of your staff. Building control also requires any office without a window to have a fresh air supply.

Heat Recovery Units (HRU) – These circulate fresh air and tempers the temperature from the air inside the building. With the current and necessary requirement for saving energy, building control seeks to avoid dumping heated or cooled air outside as waste energy. So the air inside the building flows through the heat exchanger in the HRU and uses the heat in the building to warm up the cold fresh air coming into the building and vice versa in the summer. Hence the name ‘Heat Recovery’. As the HRU brings in fresh filtered air, and removes the contaminated stale air it greatly helps in keeping the workplace fresh, clean and oxygenated compared to other methods. A correctly designed system will provide approximately 5 air changes per hour

Ducts and moisture vents – The term HVAC refers to a large selection of items used to form a heating or ventilation system. Not an actual heating or cooling unit itself, the ductwork and vents play a key role in distributing the warm and cool air in the most efficient and effective way possible.

2. Why should I be considering installing an HVAC system?

Every building requires adequate heating and ventilation systems to provide a comfortable environment for occupation. As advancements in technology continue, so too are the office buildings we use every day. With increased regulation around efficiency and their environmental impacts, buildings must meet specific heating and ventilation requirements. HVAC has become an affordable and effective way of meeting these requirements whilst providing a comfortable place to work.

3. Does an HVAC system reduce contaminants and viruses?

Many HVAC units require filtering systems in order to function properly, these help to reduce contaminates from the air that they circulate. However, specifically with Air Conditioning units, as these simply recirculate the air within a space, it can result in even greater spread of contaminants if the unit is not serviced and cleaned correctly or regularly. As the demand for more effective air cleaning systems have grown since the Covid-19 pandemic, installations of HRUs have rapidly increased. These provide a space with full air changes, moving the used air within the space to outside the building, and bringing new, fresh air back in. This results in a constant flow of new air into the space and old air out, resulting a much more effective control of contaminants.

4. Is installing an HVAC system an energy efficient way of heating and cooling a space?

This all depends on the type of unit used, and ultimately on the insulation rating of the building. Heat recovery units are becoming a more popular source of heating and ventilation as these use the temperature of the air passing through them to temper the fresh air entering the building. They require very little additional energy to heat or cool and so they become a more efficient HVAC system.

Got another question you’d like to ask?

I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have or discuss any of the above in more detail, please feel free to drop me an email (neil.cooper@calibroworkspace.com) or pick up the phone for a conversation (028 9442 5200).

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