Amarnath is a senior project manager/technical leader in the Energy Utilization program area of the power delivery and markets sector of the Electric Power Research Institute. His research activities also include demand response and dynamic energy management – a dynamic, integrated systems or networked perspective that simultaneously addresses electric energy savings, demand reductions, and peak load management for the industrial, commercial and residential sectors.
What was a primarily residential technology is ready for larger commercial settings. What was primarily embraced overseas is building momentum in the U.S. This update traces VRF progress, examines some strengths and weaknesses, and spans the globe in an effort to compile some cost comparisons with other alternatives.
Leaning on experience and data from various K-12 cities and projects, the author pursues some less conventional design approaches. They may revolve around radiant heating and/or cooling, but depending on school size and other factors, the smart use of heat recovery, DOAS, and improved central plants could also put a project on the HVAC honor roll.