Energy Efficiency the Hot (and Cold) Topic at AHR

The crowds that poured into the AHR Expo in Dallas from Jan. 29 through Jan. 31 came with a number of issues, but energy efficiency topped the list. While suppliers were coming forward with solutions—it was hard to find a booth where energy wasn't mentioned—it was equally important that suppliers were coming forward with an understanding of the problem.


The crowds that poured into the AHR Expo in Dallas from Jan. 29 through Jan. 31 came with a number of issues, but energy efficiency topped the list. While suppliers were coming forward with solutions—it was hard to find a booth where energy wasn't mentioned—it was equally important that suppliers were coming forward with an understanding of the problem.

Among the white papers released at AHR was Danfoss' 2007 EnVisioneering Insights. The company reported on three different symposia it conducted in Kansas City, Mo.; Chicago; and Washington, D.C., during 2006.

“The purpose of the report is two-fold,” said John Galyen, president of Danfoss Refrigeration & Air-Conditioning, North America. “First, we wanted to identify the key environmental, energy and engineering issues related to policy, market forces and technology. Second, it provides a summary of the major energy and environmental codes, standards and legislation affecting the HVAC/R industry.”

Danfoss plans to repeat the exercise in 2007 with a focus on short-term and long-term energy solutions. The company also released a PDF version of the EnVisioneering Insights report on the company website, .

ABB was among other companies driving basic solutions to the market. It supplied a four-step process to evaluate drive systems for energy efficiency:

  1. Review the situation. Utilize either an outside or internal resource to inventory the drives in the building for age, horsepower and duty cycle, including determining the number of drives operating in bypass mode.

  2. Replace or repair all of the drives operating in the bypass mode.

  3. Create or contract a preventive maintenance program that focuses on the specific issues of drives and how to keep them up and running.

  4. Replace older and highly critical drives before they fail. ABB officials recommend that drives be replaced if they are more than 10 years old. “Even with the cost of a new drive and installation, the benefits will include lower operating costs and improved client comfort,” ABB officials said in a press release.

Milwaukee-based Cleaver-Brooks, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2007, noted that fuel costs led to its new product designs. The company cited a report from WTRG Economics that said energy costs rose 22% in the first eight months of 2006.

On the design software front, San Rafael, Calif.-based Autodesk announced it was working with Integrated Environmental Solutions to enhance its design tools to better measure the environmental and energy impacts of building design, including energy use, operational efficiency and lighting.

ASHRAE honored the innovative use of materials and techniques in manufacturing and commercial buildings as part of its ASHRAE Technology Award. The award recognizes occupant comfort, indoor air quality and energy conservation in building design.

Receiving first place in the new industrial facilities or processes category were Pierre Roussel, P.E., vice president of the mechanical division, and Jacques Lagace, P.E., vice president of innovation and major projects, at Bouthillette Parizeau & Associates for their design of the thermal plant at the Pierre-Elliot Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Quebec.

One of the challenges was the proximity of the air traffic control tower and the possibility of the smoke plume from boiler combustion gases interfering with traffic control activities. The team designed a system that runs boilers' flue gases through a direct contact economizer, cooling the gases using gray water. This allows the system to reclaim the heat and be 99% efficient.

Daniel Pare, project manager for IBM in Bromont, Quebec, received first place in the existing industrial facilities or processes category for his design of an IBM semiconductor packaging facility in his hometown. His use of a thermal energy system with phase change materials combined with free cooling, a variable frequency drive chiller and predictive algorithm control is a first in North America. The design is expected to cut energy costs by 6% annually in part by using artificial phase change materials in the chiller with different melting points between 28°F and 40°F. The system also uses a natural cooling exchanger, which runs from September to May to utilize Mother Nature's natural cooling season.

The show itself generated plenty of heat and light. With a broad reach of interests in a rapidly-growing Dallas Metroplex, attendees gathered information on manufacturing, commercial, retail and residential solutions in the HVAC arena. With Dallas' infrastructure still growing, the event brought a strong contingent from the housing and retail sectors, and that accounted for a good chunk of the attendance on the show's first two days. AHR officials said it was the highest attendance at a Dallas show in history, surpassing the total in 2000. In 2008, the AHR Expo heads to the Javitz Center in New York City.

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