It’s a common problem: in winter, one room with a southern exposure is well-heated, while another is a few degrees colder because it has a north exposure. During summer, it’s just the opposite.
The traditional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system responds with an “all or nothing” approach: it’s either operating at 100 percent . . . or it’s off. That’s wasteful. Moreover, when these temperature variances occur in schools, they can impact student concentration and, ultimately, performance.
Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems work their magic by essentially “feeling around” the building to determine what spaces need heat or cooling. For instance, before it uses new energy to extract heat from the refrigerant, the system looks to transplant that heat from one part of the building to another part that is calling for heat.
The Community Consolidated School District 59 Early Learning Center exemplifies how VRF systems can be both energy efficient and cost effective. Early in the planning process, CS2 Design Group did an energy modeling study. It examined short- and long-term cost and savings implications of several HVAC systems.
The VRF system turned out to be the wisest choice: it is estimated to save the district nearly $30,000 a year . . . meaning the district will spend less than half of the operational expenses that it would spend with a conventional HVAC system.
Beyond the obvious cost reduction benefits, grants like this allow the design team members to make quicker decisions and meet tighter timelines. In the case of the CCSD59 Early Learning Center, it was six months to design and nine months to build.