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The challenges of indoor environment in large spaces

When we discuss the challenges of providing a high quality indoor environment, we often think of residential or office buildings. But there are other types of buildings – ones with large indoor spaces, that present a set of challenges all their own. These challenges, however, can be tackled in smart ways.

Examples of large indoor space buildings include retail stores, exhibition centers, malls, and warehouses. They are characterized by large volume undivided rooms,and in most cases a highly variable occupancy and variable need for fresh air treatment.

Historically, these buildings often have depended on traditional rooftop air treatment plants with constant air flow and linear damper management. These units run at a constant, high, effect, and are most of the time neither smart nor optimized for year-round operations. The fact that the air quality a majority of the time turns out less than perfect has not really been regarded as a problem, since visitors in any case seldom stay very long in the building.

Smarter solutions are needed

In recent years, though, there has been increased focus on consistently higher levels of air quality even in large indoor space buildings. After all, even if customers do not stay very long inside, the people who work there do. In addition to that, having units run at full capacity at all times without any energy optimization management is both inefficient and wasteful. Smarter and dedicated solutions are needed.

A modern plant should provide fresh air and control humidity

Fortunately, there has been much development in air quality, humidity, heating, cooling and heat recovery technologies in the last decades, and many of the solutions are applicable to air treatment plants for this type of building. A modern, smart plant should be able to handle humidity and temperature demands in addition to providing high quality fresh air – everything optimized for seasonal outside conditions all year round. This will increase the efficiency and lower energy demands and running costs.

Significant technology development has been made

Good examples of technologies adopted to improve these units are implementation recovery energy solutions, high efficiency components, variable airflow solutions, inverter compressors, and advanced microprocessor control. Similarly, using free heating and cooling, with enthalpy control, is a good means to reduce energy demands.

Yet another interesting solution is a system for minimizing user discomfort during the necessary defrost cycles in cold winter months. A smart system can compensate for the effects of the shutdown and minimize the cycle, to the point where it is hardly noticeable to anyone inside the building.

A system that can input just the right amount of energy

Implementing PID (proportional integral derivative) controllers raises the bar for air treatment control. With full insight into how much heat escapes, the system can input just the right amount of energy to maintain the level. Also, for optimal user comfort, indoor temperatures need to adapt to ambient outside temperatures, lessening the contrast between the outdoor and indoor environments.

Finally, a modern system worth its name should be fully programmable for customer behaviors and needs. This will for example allow for a “full clean” of the building before opening time as well as raising the temperature in time for the first customers.

To sum it up, it can be challenging to create comfortable indoor environments for larger premises. One way to meet these challenges is to use solutions like the new Lambda SKY packaged air conditioner, a product developed with exactly these challenges in mind, solving them in a creative way. Contact us if you would like to know more about how to design indoor climate solutions for larger spaces.