It's getting cold in here...and that might be a good thing!
How much do you know about chilled beam HVAC systems? If you have some knowledge, you probably have heard the following benefits: ceiling plenum height, low sound, high comfort, no maintenance in the occupied space and outstanding energy performance.
If you have not, you should know that chilled beam systems have been used in the commercial market for decades in Europe and Australia, but in the U.S., they have been slow to gain traction.
A chilled beam is a type of HVAC system designed to heat or cool buildings with radiant and convective energy. Chilled or Hot water is passed through a "beam" (a heat exchanger) integrated into suspended ceiling systems in occupied spaces. Air flow in passive systems is created by natural convection (hot air rises, and cold air sink). Active systems induce zone air flow from a primary central air source (such as a dedicated outside air system), in addition to natural convection. Chilled beams also use radiant heat transfer which increases thermal comfort because it is not dependent on air movement. Some systems advertise a combination of 40% radiant and 60% convective heat transfer.
The first cost of a chilled beam system is similar or slightly higher than a conventional HVAC system. However, chilled beams can offer significant long-term savings. These systems are compact and don’t require large ducts which makes them suitable for building renovations with limited floor to ceiling heights. While these systems can provide heat, they are more effective at providing cooling.
If you would like to learn more, take a look at ASHRAE’s Active and Passive Chilled Beam Application Design Guide or contact Air Northwest for more information and guidance.
NREL Energy Systems Integration Facility: http://svlg.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/1-NREL-Data-Center.pdf