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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.


  • 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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  • e-News #68: Guestroom Controls for the Hospitality Sector
    January 11, 2010
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    e-News #68: Guestroom Controls for the Hospitality Sector

    San Francisco's Orchard Garden Hotel was San Francisco's first hotel to implement a cardkey system to control lights and HVAC systems in guestrooms. Monitored data from four rooms in the hotel showed a reduction in heating and cooling energy of 45% during the peak cooling season. Computer simulations based on monitored occupancy levels in the hotel estimate a savings of 32% of annual heating and cooling costs. Modeled across five different climate zones, the average savings were 26%.

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  • Design Guidelines: CoolTools Chilled Water Plant
    December 28, 2009
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    Design Guidelines: CoolTools Chilled Water Plant

    Many large buildings, campuses, and other facilities have plants that make chilled water and distribute it to air handling units and other cooling equipment. The design operation and maintenance of these chilled water plants has a very large impact on building energy use and energy operating cost.

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  • Design Guidelines: EDR Multifamily Design Guide for Energy Efficiency
    November 19, 2009
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    Design Guidelines: EDR Multifamily Design Guide for Energy Efficiency

    The Multifamily Design Guide For Energy Efficiency provides a summary of resources, methods, and tools to assist the design community in building more energy efficient multifamily buildings, which are increasingly popular in California.

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  • Design Brief: Industrial Process Heat Recovery
    October 26, 2009
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    Process heating is a significant source of energy consumption in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, and it often results in a large amount of waste heat that is discharged into the atmosphere.

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  • e-News #67: Cool Thermal Energy Storage
    October 9, 2009
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    e-News #67: Cool Thermal Energy Storage

    In California, electrical  power demand reaches its peak during the hottest summer days, mostly due to air  conditioning loads, which account for almost 28% of California's peak electrical demand. A cool storage  thermal energy storage system (TES) provides a means for shifting all or part  of a facility's cooling energy use to off-peak hours, when energy costs are  lower and cooling systems can potentially run more efficiently. A TES system  uses cooling equipment at night to remove heat from a thermal reservoir of  chilled water or ice, which can then be used for space cooling throughout the day.

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  • Design Brief: Demand-Controlled Ventilation
    June 12, 2009
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    Design Brief: Demand-Controlled Ventilation

    Demand-controlled ventilation (DCV) is a control strategy that varies the amount of ventilation outside air delivered to a space based on input from a single carbon dioxide (CO2) sensor or group of sensors.

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  • Case Studies: Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences
    June 12, 2009
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    The Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences (TCES) is a three-story, 45,000 ft2 building on Sierra Nevada College's Lake Campus that demonstrates how an ambitious project team can successfully reduce energy usage by implementing a variety of innovative mechanical designs at minimal additional first cost.

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  • Design Brief: Energy Management Systems
    May 2, 2006
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    On average, energy management systems save about 10 percent of overall annual building energy consumption. An energy management system (EMS) is a computer that controls the operation of all major building systems, in order to run the building efficiently and effectively. An EMS can reduce a building's overall energy use by about 10 percent.

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  • Design Brief: Integrated Design for Small Commercial HVAC
    November 2, 2003
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    By using recommended design methods for rooftop heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, significant improvements in operational savings, energy efficiency, and indoor comfort can be achieved.

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  • Design Brief: Underfloor Air Distribution and Access Floors
    October 2, 2003
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    Underfloor air distribution and access floor systems can provide energy savings, improved indoor air quality, and a technology ready environment for today's commercial buildings.

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CBECC-Com Nonresidential Compliance Software

California Energy Commission

CBECC-Com Nonresidential Compliance Software thumbnail

CBECC-Com (California Building Energy Code Compliance) is a a public domain computer program that allows architects, engineers, and energy consultants to demonstrate compliance with California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24). The first certified version of the software was released in September 2013, with ongoing development and new features added with every release since then.

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

UFAD Case Study - EPA (Denver) thumbnail

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.

Direct Digital Control (DDC) Online

Iowa Energy Center

Direct Digital Control (DDC) Online thumbnail

The complexity and proprietary nature of DDC systems can make it difficult to stay current with the designs, installations, operation and maintenance. This guide was developed specifically to help building owners and consulting/specifying engineers with these issues. DDC-Online.org was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Facility Dynamics Engineering.

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