Look To Package AC Units to Cut Commercial Building Energy

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Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services

A study published late last year by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory indicates that control strategies for existing package air conditioning units could dramatically reduce energy use in commercial buildings.

Consider that package cooling equipment is used in 46% of commercial buildings, representing over 60% of all floor space.

The study shows that basic retrofit strategies for these existing AC units would cut energy use by 24% to 35% and reduce costs by 38%.  Multi-speed fan controls and demand-controlled ventilation are two of the most effective measures for improving energy efficiency.  Other measures noted include air-side economizers.

The impact could be staggering.  As the study notes, if only half the units in the country are retro-fitted with the “modified control package option,” the savings are equivalent to removing 16 coal-powered (200MW) power plants.

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