In commercial buildings, there has been an increasing trend towards enhanced sustainability and higher energy efficiency. Together with the more efficient use of all building resources, they contribute to the most pleasant and comfortable ambience possible for people working in them. The so called green building sector is expanding, and the following trends are prominent and encouraged: wider use of alternative energy sources, daylighting (or the use of as much natural light as possible), and high efficiency HVAC systems.

Alternative energy sources are gaining prominence because they can help to lower buildings’ utility costs, and also to conform to green standards. By means of alternative sources of energy buildings can generate their own electricity to meet their own energy needs. Solar power is more and more popular, with solar panels which help to make use of the sun’s clean energy and supply power to all the building systems: HVAC, lighting, etc. The benefits of alternative energy sources are many. They help to obtain cheaper energy which is also clean and does not pollute the environment. There are already HVAC systems which can directly be integrated with solar power sources.

They are available as rooftop units, and each unit can consist of up to 25 solar panels. The panels are controlled individually with the aid of microinverter technology. One added benefit is that the commercial building’s electrical wiring system does not typicallyneed to be changed to start operating such rooftop HVAC systems. Included in such systems are communication modules: by means of them the easy monitoring of HVAC systems online can be done, as well as monitoring of the energy production.

Daylighting is also a way of saving energy, and it is especially suitable in commercial building, because most office workers are in their workplaces during the day. It has been estimated that by means of using daylight, and with the appropriate positioning of windows and skylights, the sun’s light can be used to such an extent that total energy costs can be reduced by as much as one third. With the use of daylight responsive control systems which operate to adjust brightness of the light when daylighting becomes inadequate, the use of energy is controlled in the best manner.

Besides the capabilities of recent HVAC systems which can operate on energy obtained from alternative energy sources, there is an increased focus on the efficiency of all HVAC systems. Such systems account for as much as 40 to 60 percent of the total energy use of buildings. One more way of contributing to higher energy efficiency of HVAC systems is the multi stage air volume (MSAV) fan technology. With the introduction of MSAV technology, the fan efficiency as well as the operational efficiency as a whole are improved by a significant percentage: as much as 75 percent of power savings are achieved. Furthermore, there is a large improvement in the moisture removal, which also improves the indoor comfort in commercial buildings.

The new trends for the increase in energy efficiency of commercial buildings are closely linked to the increase in the efficiency of HVAC systems. New models relying on alternative energy sources such as solar power help to achieve HVAC system efficiency.

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