Innovation is the Key to Driving Energy Efficiency
By Mark Huxtable, CEO April 2014
A repetitive theme commonly discussed within the air movement industry is the continuing drive towards energy efficiency.
All modern manufacturers are portraying to the market that their latest equipment is more energy efficient than the last but in reality many have addressed nothing more than the basic components within their existing units. It is an easy shot play to simply replace an old AC motor with a more modern EC or DC equivalent, but for significant energy efficiency gains to be made the whole ventilation system needs to be designed with carbon reduction being regarded as a key driver in the overall project.
The government has been very successful in applying new legislation ‘with teeth’ in both the residential arena by way of Part F, SAP and Appendix ‘Q’, and in the commercial sector via Part L, and ErP, which together has made significant improvements in the overall energy efficiency of modern buildings. Initially, this legislation only really targeted the component manufacturers but, more recently, whole system performance is moving sharply into focus as a high performing component gives little overall benefit in a poorly designed system.
In the particular case of MVHR systems which are being used in a growing proportion of new build residential projects, the choice of motors, control electronics, airflow paths both within the fan unit and within the wider system, and the routing of ducting and selection of outlet and inlet grills, is of prime importance in defining the performance of the overall package.
Forward thinking MVHR manufacturers are seeking to employ a more holistic approach to the overall system and beginning to develop innovative ducting, acoustic, and installation offerings to heighten the appeal of the technology to the more discerning house builders.
Commercial buildings offer similar challenges but, often with extreme spacial constraints coupled with higher volumes of air movement, there is a more frequent requirement for ventilation equipment to be tailored to its environment and application. This leads to an acute focus on the design of the air movement product and, in particula, on its ability to operate at very low noise levels by careful selection of components and the ability of its housing or casing to suppress noise transfer to the occupied space.
I firmly believe that the role of the engineer and innovation in the air movement industry is becoming ever more important as legislation and overall design targets tighten, forcing the construction industry at large to deliver a more efficient and overall better product. The level of acoustic and aerodynamic testing required is increasing and manufacturers need to seriously invest in young engineers to continue pushing the industry forward.