Millions of HVAC systems are reaching replacement age. The life cycle for most will elapse several times over the life of commercial, industrial and institutional structures. It is estimated that there are over 5 million buildings available for HVAC retrofit upgrades. While 70% of commercial buildings built prior to 1980 have not had any HVAC improvements. With changes in building codes, government regulations, technology, IAQ and environmental standards many building owners face a plethora of challenges. One of the issues that building owners have little control over is the cost of energy. Current rates range from 6.5 cents to over 12 cents dependent on region. All projections show tremendous increases over the next few decades. Considering that 40% of building power cost consumption is HVAC related, gaining efficiency and cost savings will be paramount for owners.
When these original HVAC systems were installed during initial new construction size, weight, ease of installation and refrigerant were of no concern. Large chillers were lowered into basements and rooftop units could be installed using apparatus onsite already before construction was finished. Now twenty to thirty years later things are more complicated. No longer is there open access or a crane onsite to simplify upgrading an HVAC system.
With emphasis on green building, what is the best solution? Buy a replacement rooftop unit and spend thousands of dollars on installation. Installation could cost half of the cost of the replacement unit. How do you remove and retrofit large tonnage chillers from a basement in a dense metropolitan area.
Keeping this in mind, there are products to solve these retrofit dilemmas. Selecting an off the shelf or stock unit will not be a perfect fit like the initial installations. United CoolAir adapts units to make retrofit projects simple and easy to install. Choosing a splittable system that can maneuver through a standard 32 inch doorway into a standard elevator resolves getting the units inside an existing structure. This will also mitigate the total cost of installation by using less manpower; overcome other technical issues that would be necessary for the installation of standard commercial units. What can make these EZfit units even more attractive is they can fit above the ceiling or in a mechanical room.
By bringing your units indoors you can gain valuable roof space for green projects such as solar panels or a living roof. Additionally, repairs can be made anytime indoors, promote longer unit life; eliminate damages from storms, vandalism or even theft of valuable copper destroying your units.
Owners can expect a shorter ROI, lower energy costs and an overall lower lifecycle cost. Objections from building owners vary from too costly, tenant interruption, no funding and others. In today’s climate, the governments along with others are providing programs to lessen the financial burden. PACE bonds, leasing and energy programs like Potomac Edison provide tremendous incentives to become more energy efficient. Potomac ED’s program provides up to 50% rebate of the purchase price, excluding taxes for each VFD installed capped at a total of $250,000. These programs give building owners every reason to retrofit their outdated HVAC systems.
Repair or retrofit is going to become more prevalent then new construction in the upcoming years. Retrofitting your old high energy consuming system with a unique characteristics split unit can make a retrofit project as simple as screwing in a light bulb.