One of the best predictions of upcoming mechanical trends is to monitor the latest revisions to energy codes.
The latest version of the energy code, ASHRAE 90.1-2016 was recently released and contains a number of technical revisions. While the code has not been adopted yet in BC (the 2010 code is the current adopted version), the technical changes are worth paying attention to as they reflect technical requirements that will come into effect in the near future.
The most significant mechanical changes include:
1. Chilled Water Plant Metering. Large electrically driven chilled water plants will now be required to be monitored for both energy use and efficiency. Recently, developments in controls analytics has shown the value of verifying equipment energy efficiencies and usage in real time. This requirement is aligned with the current trends in controls.
2. Dedicated Outside Air System (DOAS) requirements. DOAS now have minimum efficiency requirements. Many mechanical systems, such as 4 pipe fan coil units, VRFs, and water source heat pumps, use DOAS.
3. Economizer diagnostics. Economizers are devices that use outside air to cool buildings when the outside temperature is suitable. The change requires that economizers have a monitoring system to determine if the system is functioning. This is an important change because many older HVAC units are equipped with economizers that are not working, thus robbing the owner from potential energy savings.
4. Energy Modeling. Performance rated energy models (i.e. “Appendix G”) can now be used to show compliance with the code. Previously, many high performance buildings required two energy models, one to show compliance to the code, and another to show energy efficiency.
In the new code, one model can meet both requirements. In addition, the baseline design has now been fixed at a certain level of performance and will not be revised in future additions. This allows older buildings to be rated more easily.
Many of these changes are a logical implementation of leading edge mechanical technology. For example, recently, there has been an implementation of building analytics (BC Comfort carries Schneider Controls) for HVAC control systems that allow building owners to monitor mechanical systems and look for savings due to poorly operated or functioning equipment. Building Analytics would work very well with items 1 and 3 above.
If you have any questions about any of the future technology mentioned, feel free to contact our Design team. We would be more than happy to talk to you and/or give a presentation in your office.