Solutions were sought to improve the life-cycle management of packaged HVAC systems (also called “unitary HVAC systems” or “rooftop units (RTU)”). Packaged HVAC systems have seen incremental improvement in efficiency over the past several years following compliance with minimum efficiency standards issued by the Department of Energy. However, data shows that actual operating efficiency in the field can be significantly below the rated efficiency of HVAC systems due to a number of compounding factors. These factors include initial design, acquisition processes, maintenance practices, corrosion mitigation, and controls approach. A single packaged HVAC unit operating below the rated efficiency may not lead to a noticeable increase in utility costs, however when considering the impact on energy use from a fleet of packaged HVAC units, that can reach to the multiple hundreds of units per installation, the energy waste and associated cost is significant.
ESTCP was seeking proposals for demonstration projects that reduce the total cost of ownership of the fleet of packaged HVAC units operating on military installations. Solutions that addressed multiple factors outlined above were of particular interest however solutions to specific inefficiencies would be accepted. Maintenance contractors and/or performance contractors (energy services companies or utilities) were encouraged to lead the demonstrations, in partnership with their respective Department of Defense installation site(s).
Of particular interest were demonstrations that addressed the following issues:
- Technologies and solutions that reduce RTU life-cycle costs that can be implemented through maintenance or performance contracts. Life-cycle includes design, procurement, installation, operation, maintenance, and disposal.
- Technologies and/or solutions that enable performance measurement and verification over the operating life of the system for implementation through ESPCs and UESCs.
- Efficient approaches to identify and diagnose faults and implement mitigation measures to maximize life-cycle savings.
- Cost-effective approaches to implement ongoing commissioning to reduce overall life-cycle costs.
- Advanced HVAC control technologies that allow for advanced ECM’s such as centralized monitoring and control of packaged units, automated system optimization, occupancy sensor control, environmental sensor integration, etc.
- Approaches to manage the transition to low global-warming potential refrigerants.
- Determine changes or updates needed to the existing policies, design guidance, specifications, unified facility criteria and other guide specifications to improve RTU design, procurement, installation and O&M processes and solutions.
- Solutions that address work force capacity to cost-effectively manage fleets of RTU on military installations.
Funded projects will appear below as project overviews are posted to the website.
The Executive Order released on December 8, 2021, on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability, requires agencies to prioritize improvements in energy efficiency and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to achieve net-zero emission buildings. With over 100,000 installed packaged HVAC units across DoD installations operating at poor efficiencies, improvements in the life-cycle performance and management of these units, from design phase to end-of-life disposal, realizes significant cost savings, efficiency improvements and emission reductions.
DoD owns nearly 300,000 buildings across its 500 installations, accounting for nearly 33% of DoD’s total energy use. Per the BUILDER database, there are over 100,000 packaged units installed across DoD in different climate zones, with over 85% of units installed in ASHRAE climate zones 2 to 4 (hot humid). The majority of these units are operating at low efficiency levels. The poor operating efficiencies are a result of poor design practices and lack of robust and consistent preventative and regular maintenance of the units over the years. Units are typically run to fail and replaced with like for like.
Reducing operating costs of buildings by improving the lifecycle of RTUs, including design, procurement, installation and operation and maintenance (O&M) practices, will not only improve the equipment efficiency and life, but can free up funding to be used towards improving the security and resilience of critical energy systems.