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HVAC Design

A building's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) creates interior comfort by compensating for climatic conditions. Many efficient HVAC system design options exist than those used in current practice and must be explored by designers pursuing high performance buildings.


  • Design Brief: Displacement Ventilation 2.0
    June 26, 2014
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    Design Brief: Displacement Ventilation

    Displacement ventilation provides improved IAQ, cooling energy savings, and better acoustics for high performance buildings.

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  • Trigger Sheet: Nonresidential HVAC Controls
    November 22, 2013
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    Trigger Sheets: This handy trigger sheet summarizes sections of Title 24, Part 6 energy code that are triggered based on project scope.  The sections indicated on these trigger sheets can help identify energy code requirements for your project.

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  • Trigger Sheet: Nonresidential HVAC Built-up Alterations
    November 22, 2013
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    Trigger Sheets: This handy trigger sheet summarizes sections of Title 24, Part 6 energy code that are triggered based on project scope.  The sections indicated on these trigger sheets can help identify energy code requirements for your project.

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  • Design Brief: Demand Response
    June 17, 2013
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    Design Brief: Demand Response

    Demand response (DR) is an energy management strategy that allows electricity consumers to receive financial compensation for temporarily reducing or rescheduling power use upon request. DR creates opportunities for building owners and managers to realize financial, operational, and environmental benefits by changing energy use patterns in response to market signals.

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  • Office of the Future
    October 15, 2012
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    The Office of the Future

    The 'Office of the Future' video presents case studies of two exemplary pilot projects in existing buildings that are yielding measured energy savings of over 50% and 66% respectively.

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  • Design Guidelines: HVAC Simulation Guidebook, Volume I
    July 9, 2012
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    Design Guidelines: HVAC Simulation Guidelines

    The HVAC Simulation Guidebook Volume I (2nd Edition) has been updated to cite new research and reflect recent changes in the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24 2008). It contains three chapters with step-by-step instructions on how to simulate the following advanced HVAC technologies:

    • Underfloor Air Distribution
    • Energy Efficient Chillers
    • Advanced Control Sequences
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  • e-News #85: Radiant Heating and Cooling
    March 22, 2012
    3 comments
    e-News #85: Radiant Heating and Cooling

    Radiant heating and cooling systems are more energy efficient compared to traditional forced air systems for several reasons.  But let's start at the building occupant since their comfort is one of the main reasons we have the built environment.

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  • Design Brief: Chiller Plant Efficiency
    June 13, 2010
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    Design Brief: Chiller Plant Efficiency

    Though more costly to install and more complicated to operate, a chiller plant offers a number of benefits over simple packaged cooling units, including greater energy efficiency, better controllability, and longer life.

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  • Design Guidelines: Advanced Variable Air Volume (VAV) Systems
    May 13, 2010
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    Design Guidelines: Advanced Variable Air Volume (VAV) Systems

    The Advanced Variable Air Volume (VAV) System Design Guide (Design Guide) is written for Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) designers and focuses on built-up VAV systems in multi-story commercial office buildings in California.

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  • Design Brief: Air Conditioning & Ventilation
    May 13, 2010
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    Design Brief: Air Conditioning & Ventilation

    Using the whole-systems approach to building design, designers around the world have succeeded at creating highly efficient air-conditioning systems that provide excellent workspace comfort.

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  • Design Brief: Advanced Variable-Air-Volume (VAV) Systems
    April 29, 2010
    1 comment

    This Advanced VAV System Design Brief provides recommendations to help engineers improve the efficiency of large HVAC systems. It focuses on built-up variable-air-volume (VAV) systems in multistory office buildings.

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  • Design Brief: Drivepower
    April 1, 2010
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    To truly minimize the energy use of a drivepower system-which includes the motor, its controls, and the connection between the motor and the equipment it drives-designers need to consider how these components operate as a system rather than looking at them on an individual basis.

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  • e-News #71: Evaporative Cooling: Saving Energy in More Ways Than Ever
    March 31, 2010
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    e-News #71: Evaporative Cooling: Saving Energy in More Ways Than Ever

    Evaporative coolers provide cool air by forcing hot dry air over a wetted pad. The water in the pad evaporates, removing heat from the air while adding moisture. Although the concept has been used in residential "swamp" coolers in the Southwest for decades, technology advances have made evaporative cooling a viable alternative to conventional cooling in commercial buildings and in other areas of the country.

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  • e-News #69: Chilled Beams
    February 2, 2010
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    e-News #69: Chilled Beams

    Chilled beams are among the recent energy-saving innovations making their way to the U.S. market. Chilled beam technology, which involves locating a low-temperature radiator at ceiling level to cool the rising warm air, has been utilized in Europe and Australia for more than a decade. Once cooled, the air slowly descends into the occupied zone, providing adequate cooling with minimal air movement and fan power, while providing an unobstructed radiant heat sink above the occupied zone.

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  • Design Brief: Energy Efficiency Practices in Industrial Refrigeration
    January 12, 2010
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    Energy costs are a significant expense for facilities that operate industrial refrigeration systems. In new construction projects, significant energy savings can be achieved by incorporating energy efficiency technologies in the project design. For facilities being expanded or upgraded, ensuring the efficiency of the refrigeration systems can lead to significant energy savings without compromising productivity.

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Other Resources

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Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Modeling Guide

San Diego Gas & Electric

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) Modeling Guide thumbnail

This guide provides an overview of variable refrigerant flow (VRF) applications for several HVAC system types, including step-by-step instructions for modeling each type of mechanical system using the EnergyPro v5 Title 24 compliance software.

The Water Garden

Southern California Edison

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The Water Garden office complex uses state-of-the-art HVAC equipment and automatic demand response to save money and energy.

UFAD Design Tool

UC Berkeley Center for the Built Environment

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CBE researchers have developed a simplified online software tool to determine cooling load requirements for underfloor air distribution (UFAD) systems. 

UFAD Guidelines

UC Berkeley Center for the Built Environment

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Design Guidelines for Underfloor Plenums - HPAC Engineering (June 2006), provides interim guidance for controlling air leakage, reducing temperature variations, esimating heat gain, using air highways, and more.

UFAD Case Study - EPA (Denver)

UC Berkeley Center for the Built Environment

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This report summarizes the major findings from a field study of the Region 8 Headquarters building for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Denver CO.This building uses underfloor air distribution (UFAD) as its primary means of space conditioning.

Hybrid Ground Source Heat Pump Installations

Energy Center of Wisconsin

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This study examined the environmental and economic performance of three hybrid ground source heat pump installations.

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