How to optimise air-conditioning systems in commercial buildings

Explore the concept of energy usage in commercial buildings and learn how to optimise the energy performance of air-conditioning systems.

In this module, we'll take a look at energy usage in commercial buildings and what you can do to optimise energy performance of the airconditioning systems in the building.

On average, around 30-40% of energy in a commercial building is consumed by airconditioning systems.
Optimising airconditioning systems in commercial buildings not only reduces the energy footprint, it also shows commitment to the environment. In this module, we're going to take a look at which factors you should consider to optimise airconditioning systems in your commercial building.

First up, there's the building envelope. The building envelope has a significant influence on the building's hygrothermal performance. With an intelligent envelope design, you can drastically reduce the capacity of the cooling systems. You should always seek to optimise the envelope for the given climate conditions. Doing so requires that you carefully consider factors such as insulation, materials, and weather to name a few.

The building orientation. How is the building oriented in relation to the sun? Solar radiation results in a major heat load, which increases the need for cooling, resulting in an increased energy consumption. By taking the sunpaths into account, you can minimise the building's exposure to sunlight and thus reduce the need for cooling.

Thermal mass. By storing excess heat deeper in the building's construction, you can minimise the cooling need. This means that when exposed to high heat loads, the air temperature swings of a room may be lowered compared to a room with a low thermal mass. Furthermore, a high thermal mass allows for the constructions to be cooled down at night, ensuring pleasant temperatures in the morning.
Solar-shading devices. Are any exterior shading devices, such as overhangs, mounted to the building? Such devices lower the heat ingress in the glass, reducing the overall heat load.
Indoor air quality. What is the indoor air quality like? Indoor air needs finer treatment to ensure a healthy indoor climate.

Internal heat loads. What kind of internal heat loads are in the building? All heat generated by lighting, equipment and people contributes to the overall thermal load on the building, but using efficient lighting and equipment makes it possible to reduce the necessary cooling capacity.
Finally, there's the chiller plant and controls. What is the efficiency of the chiller plant? Inefficient and badly maintained chiller plants are responsible for a huge amount of a commercial building's energy consumption. But in a well-implemented plant operation strategy through the building management system, you can minimise the chiller plant's energy consumption.

That just about covers it. If you consider all these factors in the design phase, you will be well on your way towards optimised airconditioning systems at all times.

Course overview

Modules: 2
Completion time
Completion time: 15 minutes
Difficulty level
Difficulty level: Intermediate