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​Staying Cool For Summer: VRF Systems

Jun 09, 2016 | blog
​Staying Cool For Summer: VRF Systems

Summer has arrived with a vengeance, so it has us thinking a lot about air conditioning. However, trying to cool down an entire building, with a traditional system, can quickly hike up the energy bill.

Variable refrigerant flow space-conditioning systems—used extensively in Europe and Asia for decades—are growing in popularity here in the United States. VRF systems are enhanced versions of ductless multi-split systems.

The cool factor of installing a VRF system is its ability to control the amount of refrigerant flowing to each evaporator. So, the system ramps up or down according to load, rather than being “full on” or “full off.”

VRF systems are more efficient than traditional, direct expansion systems because individual spaces—or zones—can be heated and cooled independently. Although they are more expensive to install, they are more cost effective (in the long run) than traditional systems.

Because they require less mechanical floor space and less ductwork than traditional systems, they can be useful for various projects.

We’re featuring VRF technology in two education projects: the design of the new Southside High School in Youngsville and the renovation of the St. Genevieve Elementary School in Lafayette.

At Southside High, we’ll be using two different systems. A chilled water plant will serve the main building, which occupies about 240,000 square feet. Chilled water is the most efficient way to handle a building this large to achieve energy efficiency and comfort control. When school is out, the main building can be minimally cooled to minimize energy costs.

However, the 5,000 square foot administrative area—where principals and administrators work—has different needs. Employees will continue to work in this part of the building after hours and during the summer. So, we’ve selected a VRF system to provide efficient cooling and individual control to these offices.

VRF systems aren’t off-the-shelf solutions. They require expertise in design to accommodate indoor units and their refrigerant lines. However, their versatility makes them an excellent choice for many settings, including schools, assisted living facilities, and historic renovation projects.

Explore our work in civic and educational architecture projects.

 

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