and have the cheapest mechanic work on it,” says
Hammer. “If it’s not done correctly, HVAC can cost
a lot of money in terms of asset depreciation, equipment degradation and energy inefficiency.”
2) Install a Programmable Thermostat. Hammer suggests taking away temperature adjustments from
occupants, particularly as they aren’t responsible for
the energy bills. If a lock seems too dramatic, use a
thermostat that can only be changed within a few
degrees. This gives workers a reasonable amount of
control but prevents the settings from getting out of
3) Look for Leaks. Are you positive that enough air
flow is reaching occupied spaces? “Have a testing
and balancing company review your system,” Brown
recommends. “They will measure the air flow at the
diffusers and compare it to what the fans are generating, looking for leakage between the two.” You might
be able to resolve leaks by sealing up gaps in the
ducts with a polymer, he adds.
4) Evaluate Fan Speed. Is too much air coming out of
your ductwork? Is it too noisy? If the fan is running
too fast or there’s not enough distribution outlets, air
velocity may be excessive and noise is distracting to
occupants, Hammer explains. To remedy the issue,
adjust the fan or add extra outlets.
5) Use Automation. “A smarter system is a better
system,” Brown says. “You’ll gain functionality
such as trending, automated scheduling and
remote control.” Many dashboards can send alerts
when a system’s operation has moved beyond the
set points or there’s a failure, adds Hammer. This
responsiveness will allow you to quickly resolve
systematic issues that might otherwise go unnoticed
6) Expand Control Points. Speaking of monitoring, how
much insight do you have into your equipment performance? “Don’t cut any of your controls budget,” stresses
Brown. Additionally, there are a host of data loggers and
sensors that will measure temperature and humidity
patterns, says Hammer. Compare the data to weather
conditions to identify comfort disparities.
7) Retrofit Windows. Upgrade single pane windows
to double pane for added thermal resistance, advises
Brown. Otherwise, a solar film can help reflect glare. Be
mindful, however, of how much reflection you choose if
some of that natural heat is needed in the winter.
8) Tighten the Envelope. Target air infiltration between
exterior walls and the roof. As an added benefit, you’ll
reduce mold risk as moisture is using the same path to
enter your building, Brown notes.
9) Add Radiant Floor Heating. If you have a major renovation underfoot, consider a radiant heat system. They
come with a higher upfront cost but are more effective
at achieving comfort than conventional HVAC, Hammer
says. They also afford the opportunity to create zones.
10) Commission Continuously. Use ongoing commissioning on an annual basis or every 2-3 years, Brown stresses.
This is especially important if you’ve added controls –
you want to confirm that measurements are accurate and
schedules are followed.
As you make changes to improve thermal comfort, keep
occupants in the loop. “HVAC is often a mystery to them as
it’s hidden behind walls, above the ceiling, in the basement,
or on the roof,” says Hammer. “Help them understand how
you are working to make their space comfortable, efficient,
and satisfactory.” B
Jennie Morton firstname.lastname@example.org is
Senior Editor of BUILDINGS.