HVAC System Considerations in Multi-family Buildings

HVAC System Considerations in Multi-family Buildings

24 Jan 2018

Multi-family buildings in Corpus Christi, Texas, have different HVAC requirements than single-family homes. Major challenges include calculating peak energy load for system sizing, delivering individual comfort control, and optimizing the system for efficiency. Additional HVAC system considerations include the building’s aesthetics and the cost of maintenance in the long run.

Sizing Your HVAC System

Improper sizing causes problems like insufficient heating or cooling, temperature swings, uneven temperatures, energy waste, and excess humidity. The basic rule is to choose the smallest size that can handle the calculated load. Air Conditioning Contractors of America has outlined a detailed procedure for load calculation in Manual J for residential buildings and Manual N for commercial buildings.

An HVAC service technician can help you with accurate sizing after taking into account various factors, such as the property’s size and design. It also takes into account its physical orientation, number of people occupying it, peak energy usage and normal humidity levels.

Centralized or Decentralized?

In a centralized HVAC system, the mechanical room is where the heating or air conditioning takes place, which is usually located either in the basement or penthouse. Centralized systems are more energy efficient, but they involve a higher installation cost. They’re more popular in high-rise buildings. Common options in centralized systems include: two-pipe systems, four-pipe systems and geothermal systems.

A decentralized system, on the other hand, offers separate HVAC units for each family or unit of the building. Due to its cost-effectiveness, most smaller multi-family buildings go for a decentralized system. Common types of decentralized systems include: electric baseboard heating units (only for heating), wall unit air conditioners (only for cooling), packaged thermal air conditioners and self-contained forced air systems.

Regardless of the type of system you choose, you should design it in a way to facilitate easy maintenance and allow in-unit controls to occupants. Additionally, steps, like sealing the ductwork and insulating the building, will help achieve better efficiency.

Need help sizing and installing the right HVAC system for your multi-family building? Let the experienced heating and cooling professionals at Bodine-Scott take charge. Call us anytime at 888-481-8511.

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