As buildings are constructed to be tighter and more efficient than ever before, mechanical ventilation has become increasingly important in order to maintain a healthy and comfortable indoor environment. Further influencing the ventilation market are increasingly stringent standards and codes, which are influencing both commercial and residential projects across the country.

Codes + Standards

Two ventilation standards — ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1: “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality” and ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.2: “Ventilation and Acceptable Indoor Air Quality in Low-Rise Residential Buildings” — are the industry-recognized ventilation system design and acceptable IAQ standards. These measures are being incorporated into more and more building codes across the U.S. each year, especially on the commercial side.

“You have to have continuous ventilation in commercial buildings,” said Randy Niederer, director of marketing, Cambridge Engineering Inc., acknowledging ASHRAE 62.1 is what drives ventilation in commercial and industrial buildings.

The standard has raised the bar for industry manufacturers who are now being forced to “include specific features that might not have been ‘standard’ otherwise,” said Ray Schaffart, marketing and sales support manager, Modine Mfg. Co. “Demand control ventilation is a good example of this.”

“The 1989 version of ASHRAE Standard 62 significantly increased the required ventilation rate for most space types,” said Charlie Wilkinson, VAV product manager, Trane – a brand of Ingersoll Rand. “Product designs continue to evolve to maintain compliance with the latest codes and standards, but it’s important to note the design of the complete system in a building is critically important to realizing the benefits of the product improvements.”

Ventilation requirements are also beginning to be included in residential building codes, said Chris Chase, senior product marketing manager, Aprilaire. “These codes require homes to be built tighter in order to be more energy efficient. The codes also require whole-home mechanical ventilation to be sure enough fresh air is introduced into the living space.”

Tom Archer, product manager, Carrier Corp., also said the commercial ventilation market has been more impacted by standards and codes, though the residential side is starting to catch up.

“If these ventilation standards become prevalent in residential building codes, it will require the use of more complicated systems,” he said. “The current maximum design conditions and industry system rating points — EER, for example — conflict with the variable system loads created by introducing ventilation air. Consequently, additional technologies, such as ERVs [energy recovery ventilators], HRVs [heat recovery ventilators], and variable-capacity systems, will be required to achieve efficiency ratings, design system capacities, and proper indoor humidity and temperature control.”

Kevin Graebel, indoor air and water quality leader, Honeywell Intl. Inc., said the company focuses on ASHRAE 62.2 due to the residential nature of Honeywell’s business. “Every year, more states adopt the requirement for mechanical ventilation into their homes, as it is required by the international builder’s code. As such, Honeywell is working to provide solutions that help builders economically support this requirement while creating a delightful experience for the homeowner.”

Meeting the Challenge

To meet the growing demand for ventilation, manufacturers are developing products that bring in the required cfm as efficiently as possible. The most common strategy to meet ventilation standards is to use demand control ventilation (DCV), which reduces outdoor airflow during periods of reduced occupancy, Wilkinson said.

“Most Trane control products, including ReliaTel™ and IntelliPak™ controllers on packaged rooftop units, include pre-engineered and pre-programmed DCV sequences. Another control strategy, called ventilation reset, is used in variable-air-volume (VAV) systems to reduce outdoor airflow as system operating conditions change. Tracer™ VAV system control products from Trane include this as a pre-engineered and pre-programmed sequence.”

Aprilaire’s Fresh Air Intake Ventilators and Ventilators with Dehumidification can be programmed using ASHRAE guidelines to have the units bring in the correct amount of fresh air, Chase said. “But, there are certain days when it isn’t practical to just bring in a certain amount of fresh air every hour, especially when temperatures are at extremes. Our logic will ‘bank’ the required ventilation time and then bring fresh air in when temperatures are moderate, like in the evening following a warm day. This helps save energy and keeps homeowners comfortable while still meeting the latest ventilation codes.”

Carrier has numerous ERV and HRV products to support the ventilation segment, Archer said. “The latest addition to the ventilation family is the new Carrier® Comfort ERV. Carrier also has multiple variable capacity compressor products to support the increased ventilation loads.”

Cambridge Engineering’s HTHV [high discharge temperature heating and ventilating] products use 100 percent outside air, and a new controller, the CE-Smart™ remote control station, ensures the building can be ventilated at any time, even when the system isn’t running.

“It’s like a home thermostat on steroids for the commercial and industrial market,” Niederer said. “It gives you the ability to program when you want the device to run and when it should run in vent-only mode, when you don’t need the heat.”

As code is requiring a higher volume of outside air to be brought in, it can cause issues with humidity or temperature load if the ventilation occurs during very hot or humid times in the day, Graeber said. “Honeywell’s new Wi-Fi VisionPro thermostat uses local weather data to monitor outdoor temperature and humidity levels, which can be used to lock out ventilation in times of high humidity or temperature, instead meeting code by trying to bring in fresh air during cooler or dryer parts of the day.”

Additionally, Honeywell’s new TrueZONE Fresh Air Damper is designed to speed installation and checkout with less troubleshooting. “It features a simple-to-read damper position indicator with LED lights, and it also includes push terminals for easier wiring and features a taping flange to simplify insulation,” Graeber said.

ERVs and HRVs are steadily gaining popularity in both the commercial and residential markets, too.

“Enthalpy energy recovery wheels lower operational costs and outdoor air loads by up to 80 percent,” explained Randall Steele, vice president and general manager, Airxchange Inc. “Airxchange recently expanded its energy recovery wheel line
to 60,000 cfm to handle an increase in demand for outside air and to complement larger dedicated outdoor air systems [DOAS]. This new line, Airxchange’s Expanded Capacity Energy Recovery Wheels, helps customers meet the outdoor air requirements for large ventilation projects.”

Modine’s Atherion packaged ventilation system offers up to 12,000 cfm, is available in two cabinet sizes from 7-30 tons, and can be combined with an energy recovery module for improved efficiency. “By offering up to 12,000 cfm we’re able to properly condition outside air before it enters a building,” Schaffart said. “The Atherion line was designed for handling large swings in temperature and humidity through modulating control of heating, cooling, and dehumidification. The capability of load-matching is critical to maintaining occupant comfort, good IAQ, and high energy efficiency.”

Munters’ patented DryCool technology offers an energy-efficient dehumidification solution to help homeowners improve IAQ, said Hua Zhang, product manager — Texas product portfolio, Munters Corp.

“The DryCool HD’s airflow [max 250 cfm for return air] can cover homes as large as 15,000 square feet, per ASHRAE 62.2 standard calculation. Together with a conventional DX [mechanical] air conditioning system, the DryCool HD can supply dry air without adding heating load to the conventional a/c system.”

Robert Lagueux, product manager, IAQ, Venmar Ventilation Inc., said meeting ventilation standard and building code regulations has forced them to adapt to different needs, mostly in regard to airflow capacity, performance, and sizing, but, also, construction type and the effects of the local climate. “Since HRVs and ERVs are now mandatory in many North American regions, we must consider all these aspects during product development,” he said.

Zsanett Ocsenas, spokesperson for VENTS-US, also said ERVs have been gaining popularity as airtight enclosures are becoming a trend. “Airtight homes need fresh air to ensure high IAQ and avoid moisture and mold issues. VENTS recovery ventilators serve this purpose well without sacrificing efficiency,” Ocsenas said. “ERV TwinFresh and HRV MICRA single-room recovery ventilators are gaining traction as they answer to a specific customer need. Mounted inside on the external wall, TwinFresh and Micra recovery ventilators provide local ventilation with substantial energy-saving benefits.”

Awareness Influences Adoption

Industry awareness of the benefits of increased outdoor air on IAQ, as well as a general awareness of ventilation requirements, has influenced the adoption of various ventilation technologies, including energy recovery wheels, Steele said. “The market has come to better understand how ERVs can control outdoor air, improve IAQ, control humidity, and help reduce energy costs.”

“Residential customers generally don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the product offerings and the need that is created by increased ventilation air,” Archer said. “Customer and overall industry education is needed. Contractors may introduce additional ventilation without making necessary changes to the installed equipment, due to cost or lack of understanding. This can result in a loss of indoor temperature control, a loss of indoor humidity control, and the emergence of mold or mildew.”

While consumer awareness is still relatively low, “new-construction builders and contractors have been looking for options to meet code requirements and provide homeowners with an effective and affordable solution that gives them the right balance of comfort and control,” Graebel agreed.

“In the commercial segments, designers and owners are beginning to understand the operational cost benefits and system operation benefits of lower dew point DOAS equipment,” said Einar Frobom, national sales manager — commercial equipment, Munters Corp. “Customers have been continually educated on the Munters approach to attain those lower dew points, and the owners and engineers are demanding better systems our equipment can offer.”

While customers may not be aware of ventilation requirements, people, in general, “seem to care more about their indoor air environments today — both from a comfort and air quality standpoint,” Schaffart said. “In Modine’s case, we saw an opportunity about five years ago to enter the commercial market — encouraged by a growing demand for comfort and IAQ — with dedicated outside air systems. It’s one of the areas we expect the most growth from in the future.”

Wilkinson also said customers are starting to be more aware of their indoor environments. “More customers are asking for products that incorporate exhaust-air energy recovery technologies and dynamic ventilation control strategies,” he said.

At Venmar, customer awareness has pushed the company to constantly improve its product offerings, Lagueux said. “Whether it’s in regard to airflow capacity, configuration type [HRV/ERV], energy efficiency, or installation methods, we have to adapt to our customers’ needs.”

What’s Next?

Increasingly stringent ventilation standards and consumer awareness will continue to influence products in the ventilation market.

“Tighter homes and the need for fresh air to be introduced into the HVAC system will continue to drive product innovation,” Chase said. “There appears to be more emphasis on code enforcement in new homes, and builders are seeking ways to remove VOCs [volatile organic compounds].”

“The need to include ERVs in replacement rooftop units will drive innovation in rooftop replacement offerings,” Steele said. “Dedicated outdoor air systems that separate the outdoor air loads from the building loads for better control of outdoor air conditions or to supplement VRF [variable refrigerant flow] systems will grow in popularity.”

“There is a trend toward increased ventilation without proper understanding of what must be changed on the installed equipment to accommodate the additional and variable load,” Archer said. “The Carrier® Comfort ERV has an innovative design that reduces contractor installation time, installation footprint space, and mounts directly to the return-air side of a furnace or fan coil. No more hanging from the ceiling with chains: The 7 ¼-inch-wide box mounts to the furnace cabinet and wires into the EAC terminals are available on the board.”

“Connectivity will continue to be a major factor in all elements of HVAC systems in the future,” Graebel said. “Homeowners want to know what is happening to their home and how it affects their comfort and energy usage. A connected control, such as the new Wi-Fi VisionPRO, will give the homeowner more visibility.”

Total cost of ownership, sustainability, serviceability, flexibility, and hybrid/bundling capability will continue to influence ventilation products, Zhang said. “Advancement in sensing/control technology — e.g., remote/wireless and smarter sensor and controls — and ductless HVAC systems are becoming more popular as they allow for individualized per-zone or -room control of comfort and IAQ. Also, more hybrid bundling combinations or even integration of different HVAC systems for a total home solution will influence the market.”

Wilkinson said the major driver of ventilation product innovation is “certainly” energy efficiency. “More customers are asking how to minimize the energy use associated with ventilation. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy [DOE] continues to develop and implement regulations that dramatically impact energy consumed by all HVAC products.”

Schaffart also said the demand for greater energy is, without a doubt, driving innovation in the market, particularly on the heating side. “One trend we’ve noticed is the growing numbers of industrial facilities that haven’t traditionally used packaged ventilation equipment are now seriously considering these systems as viable HVAC solutions.”

For Venmar, constantly bringing innovation to the table is a top goal for the company, Lagueux said.

“We think the market is moving toward higher-efficiency products due to the uncertainty surrounding the price of gas, oil, and electricity, and the fact that government authorities are constantly applying pressure to achieve their ambitious sustainability and energy saving programs in the upcoming years,” he added. “This should also apply to the growing multi-housing market, which is also bringing new challenges in terms of ventilation that will need to be addressed.”

Publication date: 4/20/2015

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