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The term HVAC is fairly straightforward and easy for most to understand. It consists of three parts: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, all necessary for keeping the environment within your building comfortable all year through. However there is another part to the HVAC system that few building owners think about – the control. Control determines how effective your HVAC system is during operation, and how well it meets the goals of comfort, safety and cost effectiveness.
Heating can be accomplished in different ways. It can be supplied by heating the air within a space through a supply air system, or by using radiant heat through equipment like radiant panels.
Ventilation controls the delivery system. It can be accomplished passively through natural ventilation, or through active methods of distribution powered with fans. Ventilation mixes gases with the air we breathe in order to provide the proper balance for breathing, controlling odors, and even removing contaminants from the air supply.
Air conditioning is the process of controlling both the air temperature and the humidity levels within a room. Cool air is not comfortable if it is too humid. Therefore its important to have a proper cooling system in place that removes moisture while cooling, leaving you comfortable in the process.
With all three in place, the control ensures a variety of things. Above all, it provides comfort and safety for the building occupants. It also ensures equipment safety, helping you maintain your investment at optimal levels for long periods of time. It can even provide you with effective ways to conserve energy, and therefore help you save money over time. An HVAC system accounts for nearly 40 percent of the energy used within a commercial building, meaning its one of the most important systems to monitor and improve to realize significant savings.
Within most building environments, a property owner assumes that if the heat works in the winter, and the cooling works in the summer, the proper equipment is in place. But that isn’t always the case. The best heating or cooling system in the world will not be effective and run at its optimal level if the ventilation system isn’t adequate for the surrounding area.
And if the ventilation system doesn’t allow the proper heating or cooling to take place, it can also be deficient in other ways, all of which can impact the quality of the air supply you and the building occupants take in every day.
If you’ve ever heard of the term Sick Building Syndrome, keep in mind that this condition is real. This is a condition where medical symptoms are worse in a particular building or room, then subside when the person moves away from that location. If the ventilation system isn’t doing its job, it can allow a buildup of a variety of things within that building or room. Mold, mildew, bacteria, viruses, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc can all come into play and be a part of the indoor air quality problem.
While there can be a variety of reasons why air quality is bad within a building, one of the most predominant reasons starts with the HVAC system. HVAC systems for commercial buildings draw in air from the outside, and condition it to adjust to the proper temperature requested for the inside of the building. If the ventilation isn’t adequate for the job, the process will be compromised. By upgrading and improving the ventilation system, it will be able to pull in more fresh air while expelling more “dirty” indoor air back to the outside before it can do harm.
While in writing, it’s a simple solution, it takes a professional commercial HVAC contractor to evaluate your system and determine what controls are in place. He can find where deficiencies exist and make recommendations on the best way to improve your system, both to keep your building’s air clean and breathable, and to save you energy and money overall.