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UV-C Boosts Airflow by 47% in Florida Office Building
In 2011, during a routine evaluation of the BayView Corporate Tower’s mechanical systems, Senior Property Manager Bunnie Willis learned that she could provide her tenants with cleaner, healthier air by making modest upgrades to the building’s HVAC systems. One such upgrade – the addition of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UV-C) lamps – also held the promise of saving energy, reducing maintenance costs and extending equipment life.
In fact, one of the most appealing aspects to Willis was the technology’s ability to potentially slash between 10 to 25 percent of HVAC energy use at the 12-story, 412,000 sq. ft. Class A commercial space.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Willis is not alone in targeting HVAC as a potential source of savings, as this equipment accounts for between 30 to 50 percent of a building’s total energy use – a figure that may be even more pronounced in southern climates such as Florida.
In the end, an independent audit documented as much as a 47 percent increase in the building’s airflow levels following the UV-C installation, which also reduced enough energy use to pay for the upgrade in just three-months—an impressive 90-day return on investment.
According to the building’s Chief Engineer, Miki Minic UV-C energy “improves indoor air quality levels, so tenants enjoy cleaner, healthier air. Absenteeism due to the spread of unsafe microorganisms via HVAC systems is almost eliminated. Moreover, equipment life is improved, downtime and preventive maintenance expenses like cleaning the coils, drain pans, and the purchase of coil and drain treatments, etc., is significantly reduced.”
With two cooling towers, three chillers and 24 AHUs (two per floor), the UV installation at BayView was fairly straightforward. In January 2012, each air handler was retrofit with the RLM Xtreme high-output, fixtureless UV-C lamp system from UV Resources.
As a result of the installation flexibility of the fixtureless UV-C lamp system, the retrofits were completed in just four days using only two installers.
A Big Payoff
As with any major capital project, return on investment is a critical component that must be independently demonstrated. To evaluate the installation’s success, building manager Willis commissioned an independent performance test by HVAC consultant John Kneiss, president of K & P Mechanical Solutions, Inc.
Prior to the UV-C installations, Kneiss discovered varying levels of velocity, indicating that some parts of the coil were much dirtier than others. “It was easy to see certain sections had high velocities and other sections were low, indicating a build-up of debris in the lower velocity areas,” he says. “The velocity readings in our baseline measurements were not stable.”
When he returned following the installation of the UV lighting system, he used the same test instruments and procedures, and found the air velocity readings to be much more stable, this time, across the entire coil surface. “Our opinion after reviewing the results and differences was that the cooling coil performance was significantly improved from our first set of readings,” Kneiss recalls.
“Our opinion after reviewing the results and differences was that the cooling coil performance was significantly improved from our first set of readings,” Kneiss recalls. The building’s airflow levels increased by 47 percent, which also reduced enough energy use to pay for the upgrade in just three months—an impressive 90-day return on investment.
As for Willis, she was so pleased with the results that she plans future use of UV-C technology and the RLM-Xtreme. “We are very satisfied with the decision to install the UV lighting,” she declares.
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