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Chilled beam study claims potential for 20 per cent energy savings over fan coils

The Chilled Beam and Ceiling Association has commissioned an independent study that shows a major energy benefit for the technology against other systems, principally due to the reduced requirement for fans.

The CBCA study, carried out by consultant EDSL (Environmental Design Solutions Ltd) using its government-approved Thermal Analysis Software (Tas) revealed the potential for energy savings of 17-22 per cent with chilled beam technology against VAV fan coils with EC motors.

CBCA said the results are important for the industry as a whole, since the Annual Plant Energy Cost Comparison revealed in the study shows that there are potential energy and cost savings that can be made using products already available on the market. “Critically, these savings were shown to amount annually to approximately 17 per cent for a passive chilled beam system and approximately 22 per cent for the active chilled beam system, over the VAV fan coil system modelled.”

The EDSL Tas Energy Study simulated the dynamic thermal performance of four differently-sized office buildings, and compared the energy consumption, CO2 emissions and the running costs of different HVAC systems within these office buildings (active chilled beams, passive chilled beams and VAV fan coils with EC motors).

CBCA Chairman, Andrew Jackson said: “The findings of this research come at a time when energy demand and supply is top of the news agenda, and as the impact of the UK’s energy capacity gap is being examined both by policymakers and commercial and public property owners. As an industry it’s important we share knowledge to help get buildings to perform more efficiently, and chilled beam technology offers a solution for offices and other property – its technology that is available today and proven to enable energy savings.”

CBCA Member Michael Ainley said that the results presented end users and consultants with some compelling commercial considerations: “The evidence regarding how much more energy efficient chilled beams are to other forms of air conditioning is long overdue. If the UK is to achieve a carbon neutral state by 2019, then the information in this independent study is a powerful tool for specifiers. ”

The CBCA believes that a combination of energy efficiency, reduced maintenance requirements and life-cycle cost benefits make for a compelling design specification for chilled beam technology. Mr Ainley said: “It is clear ‘one size does not fit all’. How informed really is the building owner of the different options? We want to change the standard advice from the professional teams.We believe the technology has the best lifecycle costs, but we needed to prove it.”

Mr Ainley noted that the EDSL study showed chlled beam energy efficiency would increase even further, if water temperature could be raised abov 14 deg C: “For every degree above 14 deg C, it gives 3-4 per cent better energy consumption - and that’s above the 22 per cent improvement for active beams and 17 per cent for passive.”

Read more about the conclusions from the Energy Study in September RAC.



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