We live in an individualized world. While you can tailor how you interact with the online digital world, how about your physical working space? Advances in commercial HVAC technology provide the capability to do just that. The following six points illustrate why zoning is worth considering:
1. Heat rises. While it is beyond an obvious statement, the fact is that each floor may need differing amounts of heat during winter months. The opposite is true with cooling and summertime. Independent temperature control keeps everybody comfortable. Zoning allows for conditioned air where and when necessary.
2. Orientation matters. Different sides of the same building have different sun exposure. Sitting here in North America, offices on a southern facing side will be baked on sunny days while northern sides will be shaded. This causes greatly different ambient temperatures, even within the same floor. Dividing each floor within the building into zones will alleviate these disparities.
3. Don’t condition unused spaces. There is no sense heating or cooling an entire building evenings and weekends if the majority of space is used only during normal business hours. Programmed controls and zoning deliver heating or cooling only to spaces being utilized, saving utilities costs and equipment wear and tear.
4. Space is scarce. Delivering conditioned air from a central air handler requires what seems to be miles of ductwork. Space must be devoted throughout the building for these runs. By taking advantage of VRF technology, a decentralized approach greatly reduces the amount of ducting needed while providing heating or cooling to specific spaces. This is true for new construction, modernizations, repurposing and renovations.
5. Uncomfortable people are unhappy. Unhappy people are unproductive. Too hot or too cold, if there is no way to adjust the temperature within general areas you are going to have people who are at less than their best. Too warm and you’re drowsy, too cold and you just want to get home. Providing temperature control over logical zones allows individuals to choose their ideal working temperature.
6. Usage matters. How a given space is used is often more important than the size of that space. Conference rooms are a much different draw than a similar sized space containing cubicles. Conditioning the air in a relatively large space which is rarely used or used by a small number of people is much different than that of a densely populated space filled with workstations. Equipment such as computers and copiers generate heat as well and must be considered. Incandescent bulbs, if you haven’t replaced them throughout your facility, are also a source of heat.
While occupant comfort is king, remember that whenever you can reduce usage you save on not only utility costs but also extend the service life of your HVAC system.