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Ventilation – the key to more energy savings

Expert stresses importance of changing public perception to shift focus from air conditioning to natural cooling Fatima de la Cerna  |  Assistant Editor   The residents of the Middle East would enjoy as much as 60% energy savings, if they were to let go of their preoccupation with traditional air conditioning and made ventilation their […]

| | Sep 6, 2015 | 4:33 pm
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Expert stresses importance of changing public perception to shift focus from air conditioning to natural cooling

Fatima de la Cerna  |  Assistant Editor

 

Hans Reinders, the CEO of the Dutch company, Oxycom

Hans Reinders, the CEO of the Dutch company, Oxycom

The residents of the Middle East would enjoy as much as 60% energy savings, if they were to let go of their preoccupation with traditional air conditioning and made ventilation their priority. Hans Reinders, the CEO of the Dutch company, Oxycom, made this claim just before revealing that he’s had frustrating discussions with potential clients, who had trouble grasping the concept of ventilation through evaporative cooling.

“Evaporative cooling is not complex,” Reinders said. “It’s simple, but explaining it to people sometimes takes time, because their focus has always been air conditioning and everything they’ve learned has been air conditioning.”

To illustrate his point, Reinders related how he’s had people tell him that they’ll be happy with any cooling technology as long as they can set room temperatures to 21 degrees C; if not, then they have no need for it.

“I come from a different corner,” he stated. “I come from the side of ventilation, and ventilation means fresh air. Fresh air means indoor air quality, and indoor air quality means people are healthy and productive. As a business owner, you get five to 10% more performance and 30% less absenteeism. This has all been researched by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.”

Reinders, explaining the process of his preferred solution, said that ventilation removes the heat load from the building through indirect evaporative cooling. “You do not humidify when you cool indirectly with evaporation,” he said. “You only bring in outside air that has already been cooled. No moisture is added.”

The Gulf climate poses certain challenges, though. Speaking specifically about Oxycom’s products, he said: “Here in Dubai, it gets humid, and the more humid it becomes, the higher the dew point is and the comfort level dips. What we’ve done is make a hybrid that is based on a compact air conditioner, combined with our indirect evaporative cooler. With that, we are now capable of achieving at least 60% savings, while ventilating a building seven times per hour. That’s savings and fresh air.”

On starting them young and the chill factor

To effectively shift people’s focus from traditional air conditioning to ventilation, Reinders observed, early introduction to evaporative cooling or, as he called it, natural cooling is necessary. “We have to start in schools,” he said. “We have to make it a fundamental part of the industry by starting at the beginning.”

One of the things that need to be taught, he added, is the benefit of being more in tune with the natural environment. “As human beings, we will benefit from being smart and using nature as guide,” he said. “We have to go with the flow. With buildings, for example, we can use the night to cool the mass of a building. Let’s ventilate in the evening, when the temperature outside is in the lower 20s [degrees C], so that during the day, the building can absorb heat.”

Reinders also urged for people to not underestimate their tolerance. “We’ve become so intolerant of heat,” he said. “The slightest rise in room temperature has us blasting on the air conditioner and setting it to 21 [degrees C],” he said. “But the comfort zone that we think we need can be extended. In fact, ASHRAE has extended the range for acceptable thermal comfort levels, because there are a lot of considerations, one of which is the chill factor.”

By ventilating the building every hour, Reinders explained, one can achieve a certain wind speed, and that wind speed can produce a chill factor of 1 to 2 degrees C. “In India and Pakistan, people have always had these big fans on the ceilings, and they survive high humidity and high temperatures because of the chill factor,” he said. “We don’t think about that anymore. We want to make it simple and not think.”

When you have people opting not to think, Reinders said, that’s when you know a change is really necessary.


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