Magazine

Parking on the ‘GREEN’ Level

A Quarterly Showcase of Innovation for the Parking Industry

By Steve Little

Technology: Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF)
This issue’s technology feature focuses on the newest rage to take hold of the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) market: Variable Refrigerant Flow, or simply VRF.
The best way to explain it is this: Until now, when using split HVAC systems, you placed one condensing unit outdoors and tied it into one indoor furnace/coil combination, as you have in your home. This has been the mode of operation since the inception of air conditioning.
Now, with vast improvements of electronic controls and state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, what has been commonplace in Europe and Asia for decades – VRF – has surfaced in the United States, and it is taking its rightful position. Now, you can put one condensing unit outside and a multitude of small air-handling units (or fan/coils) inside.
Here is the coolest part (no pun intended): You can heat in one room and cool in another at the same time, simultaneously. It doesn’t get any better than that. And it doesn’t get any more efficient than that, either.
Parking garage owners can experience some of the most difficult temperature control issues on their properties due to large glass exposures and shifting wind patterns. VRF has come to the rescue.
Now, an owner can cool the elevators while heating the lobbies, offsetting costly energy. Today, if the single packaged air conditioning unit that serves all levels of controlled space on your property fails, your whole facility is affected. With VRF, a single floor may be all that suffers upon a failure.
VRF systems can use your existing ductwork or it can be wall-mounted, surface-mounted or recessed. A retrofit of your existing property is do-able with VRF because it requires only core drilling and a piping layout.
Also, don’t overlook attractive federal tax incentives and your local utility incentives to help fund an upgrade to your HVAC system. Some of the players in this market include Panasonic/Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Daikin and LG.
The Sanyo VRF system, for example, was recently installed in the new Carmel (IN) City Center, a 1 million-square-foot, $300-million multi-use development about 10 miles north of downtown Indianapolis. This installation – maybe the largest VRF project in America today – is gaining national attention. The individual temperature control benefits and energy savings compared with other more costly systems are reportedly unmatched.
Steve Little, President of Level Solutions, can be reached at srlittle@level-solutions.com. To comment on or for information about this issue’s technology feature, or if you would like to see a specific technology featured in a future “Parking on the ‘GREEN’ Level,” feel free to contact the author directly.
Note: The next installment of “Parking on the ‘GREEN’ Level” will feature high-velocity fan systems for ductless exhaust ventilation.

Article Abstract from November, 2010




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