Retrofitting Major Commercial HVAC Brands
Millions of HVAC systems are reaching replacement age. The life cycle for most will pass several times over the life of commercial, industrial and institutional structures. Estimates show that there are over 5 million buildings available for retrofit HVAC 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 forecasts show great increases over the next few decades. Considering that 40% of building power cost use is HVAC related, gaining efficiency and cost savings are vital for owners.
Why The Difficulty in Replacing Outdated Units
When initially installing HVAC systems, size, weight, ease of installation and refrigerant there were of no concern. During construction, large chillers were lowered into basements, and rooftop units were installed using machinery already onsite. Now twenty to thirty years later things are more difficult. No longer is there open access or a crane onsite to simplify improvising an HVAC system. Brands of HVAC units reaching the end of life include Trane® SWUD units, Bohn HVAC Systems, Blazer units, McQuay® HVAC, Mammoth® v cube and Carrier® AC units.
Going Green is the Future
In order to make energy cleaner, greener and more efficient, governments are constantly developing new refrigerant liquids. Many of today’s HVAC units are using the less efficient R22 refrigerant and are therefore in need of replacement. Newer units are using R410a refrigerant but even this will soon be outdated as well. With an emphasis on green buildings, 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 urban area?
There is a Solution
Keeping this in mind, there are products to solve these retrofit problems. Selecting an off the shelf or stock unit will not be a perfect fit like the initial installations. United CoolAir modifies units to make retrofit projects simple and easy to install. Choosing a splittable system that can move through a standard 32-inch doorway into a standard elevator, resolves to get the units inside an existing structure. This will also lessen 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 EZ Fit units even more appealing 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, support longer unit life; eliminate damages from storms, vandalism or even theft of valuable copper destroying your units. Owners can expect a shorter return on investment, lower energy costs, and an overall lower lifecycle cost. Complaints from building owners vary from too costly, tenant interruption, no funding, and others. In today’s climate, governments along with others are providing programs to lessen the financial burden.
PACE bonds, leasing, and energy programs like Potomac Edison provide fantastic 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 obsolete HVAC systems. Besides repair or retrofit is going to become more widespread than new construction in the upcoming years. Lastly, retrofitting your old high energy-consuming system with a unique feature split unit can make a retrofit project as simple as screwing in a light bulb.