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Eurovent Middle East tackles building retrofits in HVACR Leadership Workshop

Technical presentations highlight opportunities for enhancing building performance

| | Mar 6, 2020 | 9:25 am
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DUBAI, UAE, 4 March 2020: Retrofits are becoming more and more prevalent in our market as buildings get older, said Brian Suggitt, President, Eurovent Middle East, as he welcomed industry stakeholders to the latest installment of the association’s HVACR Leadership Workshop Series, which focused on ‘Building Retrofits’, on March 4, in Dubai.

The workshop commenced with an address from Afra Al Owais, Vice Chair, Emirates Green Building Council, who discussed the importance of improving building performance through retrofitting, in the context of the green building regulations being implemented in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. She also highlighted EmiratesGBC’s commitment to support these entities by helping evaluate performance of buildings through the Building Efficiency Accelerator project. “The aim is to show where we stand today, and where there is potential in the market,” she said, adding that before offering a solution or selling a product, it’s important for stakeholders to have an understanding of the customer requirement in order to drive greater awareness on the issue. “We have to understand the customer’s pain,” she said. “If we understand what motivates the customer, then we can facilitate with the budget. Sometimes, the customer might have the budget but won’t take the risk. But if we show them what it means, how much they can save and the economic payback, they will be convinced.” Al Owais said there is strong potential for saving in the UAE and that supporting deep retrofits contributes to advancing the net-zero vision and decarbonisation of the building stock.

Following Al Owais were a series of technical presentations, beginning with Srinivasan Rangan, Director of Marketing and Product Management, Rheem Middle East and Africa, who spoke on DX retrofits for commercial buildings. Rangan said it is important to take into consideration where the country stands with respect to refrigerants, in view of pending phase-down requirements in the Middle East region and that the Kigali Amendment should factor into any purchase decision made in 2020. “Typically, a DX product has a lifecycle of 10-15 years,” he said. “A product installed from 2002/2005 to 2010/2012 stands as a potential candidate for retrofit in the Middle East.” The GCC region countries continue to raise the energy efficiency bar, said Rangan, pointing to ESMA’s new regulation of EER 8.3 for ducted splits as an example. He said that while there are continuous efforts to ensure harmonisation across the region, in order to drive awareness on the benefits of replacing old AC units, it is important to look at savings that can be achieved in terms of operations and repair costs, compliance with updated regulations, as well as the opportunity to reduce footprint and utility bills and to ensure a more reliable system.

Iyad Al Jurdy, Senior Manager – Air Solutions Engineering Sales, LG Electronics Middle East and Africa, went on to highlight the importance of moving away from a “like for like” mindset when doing retrofits. He elaborated on how VRFs can be a good fit for projects that have rooftop units and chillers. Al Jurdy said that when creating a lifecycle cost analysis, it is important to have a holistic view, taking into account different factors. “It’s not only about initial cost, it’s also how much you can save on the demolition,” he said. “If you have a chilled water system, you don’t just change the chiller you need to look at piping. But what if you keep the system, save in demolishing and put a system smart enough to go around the existing system?”

As the industry matures, Al Jurdy said VRF is increasingly being considered as an option for retrofit projects facing unique and particular challenges, such as heritage facilities, where external facade cannot be tampered with, or those with limited space that are unable to add ductwork due to low floor or height. VRF applications, he added, also offer flexibility in terms of zoning and piping as well as sophisticated controls and communication.

Discussing retrofitting in the context of smart electronic components, Matteo Zanesco, Managing Director, CAREL Middle East DWC LLC, said that the growing focus on refurbishments and replacement of existing units globally offers a great opportunity to pursue different types of goals in retrofit projects, including improving efficiency and wellbeing of inhabitants from an IAQ perspective, as well as compliance with up-and-coming regulations. When it comes to reaching these objectives, Zanesco said, technology is an effective tool and that the role of integrated systems will be fundamental to efficiently managing different technologies. He added that switching to high-efficiency components also offers beneficial returns on retrofitting investment and that IoT and smart connected units can improve both integration and efficiency, while opening new business streams.

Zakeer Hussan, Channel Partner Manager, HVAC Segment Leader, ABB, spoke on the importance of improving part-load efficiency in existing buildings and the need for understanding the complexity associated with improving efficiency of HVACR systems “In cooling, you need to consider the whole system to optimise it,” he said. “If you start controlling the condenser it will affect the compressor, which also impacts the evaporator.” Sometimes, he said, running two compressors at part load is more efficient than running one compressor at full load and another at part load. He added that when it comes to power quality, the presence of harmonics, as well as capacitive and reactive loads affecting power factor, contributes to building energy losses, as well. As legislations in HVACR system component efficiency get stricter and start taking into account part-load efficiency, Hussan said, building HVACR system part-load efficiency should be part of specifications “Digital technologies also help get information on energy consumption by different parts of an HVACR system, allowing stakeholders to run optimisation measures for higher system efficiency,” he said.

Anis Ben Ali Ouerghi, Technical Manager (Danfoss FZCO) concluded the workshop with a presentation on Low Delta T syndrome. Most of the buildings in the UAE, he said, are not achieving Delta T of 8.9 degrees C, stipulated in design parameters, typically having 4.5 to 6 degrees C, due to a number of different factors, including lack of hydronic balancing and oversized cooling coils. Poor maintenance is another factor that causes low delta T, he said, as it leads to lower exchange and discomfort, and dirty air filters lead to inefficient exchange and low return chilled water temperature. Ouerghi also said that a blocked strainer also leads to less flow, . In view of these challenges, Ouerghi highlighted the importance of manual balancing and automatic balancing to maintain maximum flow at part-load conditions. Highlighting the benefits of addressing this issue, Ouerghi said that by reducing overflows, the pump can run on a lower speed; by improving the Delta T of the installation, the efficiency of the chiller can also be improved and that by increasing the performance of the controls, the temperature setting can be optimised.

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