Danfoss discusses challenges, solutions for commercial buildings during 23rd annual press conference at AHR Expo

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Press briefing highlighted two successful projects — one K12 school and one university — where Danfoss technologies helped to address existing challenges and improve energy efficiency.

Danfoss recently hosted its 23rd annual press conference during the 2018 AHR Expo in Chicago. The briefing focused on how the company is “Engineering Tomorrow” — specifically, how Danfoss is helping the industry to address the common challenges of building owners through engineering strategies and innovative solutions.

“Innovation remains a cornerstone of our brand,” emphasized John Galyen, president, Danfoss North America. “Around the world, we continue to invest heavily in research and development each year. In North America alone last year, we opened a new Application Development Center in Tallahassee, Florida, to support the development of next-generation chillers and rooftop units, expanded our production of plate and frame heat exchanger capabilities, and established a new production facility in Utica, New York, to package silicon carbide power modules that will help meet the demand for smaller, faster, and more efficient devices like those used in utility-scale solar inverters and data centers.” 

“These investments enable us to prepare today for the trends of tomorrow,” he said. “We believe it is through innovation that we can be successful in meeting the industry’s and our customers’ challenges.”

Engineering Tomorrow: Solutions for commercial buildings 

For building owners, these challenges include achieving design efficiency, degradation of efficiency, system reliability, and occupant comfort. 

“The solutions to these challenges can be summarized under a lifecycle systems approach,” said Jonathan Holloway, strategic marketing manager for Danfoss North America, in his presentation. 

He explained that:

  • To address the performance gap between design efficiency and installed efficiency, industry needs to start by designing for system interdependencies; apply smart, connected products; and ensure quality installation by skilled technicians — and coordinate all aspects through modern construction techniques like Building Information Modeling (BIM).
  • Solutions to address degradation include proactive and adaptive systems to correct issues immediately. Sustaining efficiency should also be part of the design process, where a proactive approach to eliminate potential efficiency detractors and adaptive systems that reduce manual maintenance can deliver lifecycle results.
  • Downtime costs are rising, but deferred maintenance with limited system data is the norm. High quality, reliable components — built into smart systems with continuous monitoring — can strengthen the chain and ensure reliable operations. 
  • Ensuring occupant comfort is critical for job performance; tight temperature and humidity control are vital and variable speed systems can help to achieve these objectives.

“There are many technologies, products, and processes that come into play to address these challenges,” he said, “but it requires a business ecosystem and modern construction methods to move forward.”

To emphasize the opportunity for commercial buildings to address challenges through existing technologies, the press conference showcased two successful projects where Danfoss solutions were deployed to achieve notable results. 

In Pensacola, Florida, where the weather is warm and extremely humid, recently-rebuilt A.K. Suter Elementary School has become Escambia County School District’s — which is home to 31 elementary schools alone — most energy-efficient school. Roger McGraw, ECSD’s mechanical engineer, emphasized the importance of the role Danfoss AB-QM™ pressure independent control valves and Danfoss Turbocor® compressors played in the construction of school’s high-efficiency HVAC plant, citing truly balanced flows throughout the entire operating range of the system, high efficiency at part-load conditions, and other benefits like reduced maintenance and sound as critical factors. The efficiency contribution has been so significant, in fact, that ECSD has seen a reduction in energy costs of 24 percent, or more than $2 million annually. 

In Wilmington, North Carolina, the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Marine Science is located only 100 yards from the Intracoastal Waterway, causing heat and humidity challenges for its MARBIONC research laboratory. Steve Sharpe, UNCW’s energy manager, noted that key challenges included reliability — especially considering the millions of dollars invested in research and experiments — and a campus-wide initiative to reduce energy consumption. But, thanks in part to two 750-ton SMARDT water-cooled chillers utilizing 10 total Danfoss Turbocor® compressors, the lab’s chiller plant has been able to achieve outstanding part-load efficiencies and remarkable reliability. Over three years, the plant ran for more than 20,000 hours and produced nearly 6 million tons of cooling, but its average annual plant efficiency was just 0.556 kW/ton — significantly less than a baseline ASHRAE plant’s expected efficiency of 1.038 kW/ton, resulting in a simple payback time of less than three years. 

“Successful projects like these are possible through the ongoing investment Danfoss continues to make in technologies — as well as in the close collaboration with our customers to bring reliable, innovative solutions to the market to meet future challenges today. Together, we are working to Engineer Tomorrow,” Galyen concluded.