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Four tips to create a sustainable ventilation system...

It is generally known that you can make great energy savings if you provide buildings with demand-controlled ventilation, ie. that you only ventilate exactly as necessary to ensure a good indoor environment. However, the function of a building inevitably changes over time depending on tenants and general trends. This means for a future-proof solution, you must think about how flexible the ventilation system is to meet adjusting requirements in the future...

There has been some research on occupancy rates in different building types, but it is not comprehensive and there is still a lot of work to be done in this area. What you can clearly see is, in any case, that there are trends that change behavrioual patterns in most offices and commercial premises! 

For example, in offices, we have gone from individual offices, to open plan offices and evolving most recently to the 'activity-based offices'. With flexible working and the digitalisation of our world, more employers allow people to work outside the physical office. 

How do these events relate to HVAC design? Here are 4 important tips to keep in mind to keep your project sustainable and adaptable well into the future...

  1. Set the system capacity!
    The amount of air we need for ventilation today does not necessarily have to match the amount a project will need in a few years. Putting in extra large ductwork for future use is both expensive and takes up a lot of rentable space for a client. If it is possible, work with floor-mounted units, parts of the flow can often be collected in the façade, which saves the shaft surface.
  2. Use units that can handle large fluctuations in volumes!
    Modern office properties are, in principle, always equipped with some form of demand management for the HVAC system. It is therefore important when you select ventilation units, you make sure the system has a sufficiently large capacity for highest volume demand as well as being adaptable to a low minimum flow where they still function in the intended way. This will minimise energy usage, whilst maintaining a comfortable indoor environment.
  3. Well thought-out demand control!
    Today we do not just regulate that someone is in a specific place. In a modern plant, the indoor climate is regulated based on power requirements (cooling / heat), presence, CO 2 and various types of emissions so-called VOC regulation. Exactly how it should be regulated depends, of course, on the tenant's needs and behavior. Ensure that the system chosen for demand management can easily be adapted to future tenants.
  4. Think about the system solution!
    Remember that a ventilation system is likely to be reconfigured several times during its lifetime. With a sustainable system solution, that can handle customisation (sometimes even from the controls alone), you can take into account future remodeling and get a system is ready to adapt to change over time. If your constructing an office, it's especially important to choose a demand-driven system where both physical (hardware) and digital (software) changes are quickk and easy, so the facility can be adapted for these evolving tenant demands, without expensive refurbishments!

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