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Decarbonize Now: Your Rooftop Unit is How

July 08, 2022

How can you take advantage of a seemingly ordinary rooftop replacement?

Packaged rooftop unit replacements often offer opportunities beyond the immediate need to replace end-of-life equipment. Important benefits to consider when selecting an appropriate replacement unit include reduced maintenance expenses, increased efficiency, reduced carbon footprint and upgraded capabilities.

It’s critical to make sure that your replacement aligns with upcoming regulatory changes, including U.S. Department of Energy increased efficiency standards  effective Jan. 1, 2023, which impact packaged rooftop units. Considering regulatory changes now avoids surprises later. Taking this broader view ensures you take full advantage of the opportunity and get the most from your new rooftop unit.

Beyond the benefits already discussed, today’s environment warrants that any near-term projects closely consider risks such as inflationary conditions and possible delays due to continued global supply chain challenges. Making decisions sooner and considering broader benefits will help mitigate these risks leading to the right choice for your replacement.

How can your rooftop unit selection help you reduce risk, increase tenant satisfaction and improve your building? Increased efficiency becomes a given with the upcoming regulatory changes but considering upgrades to your previous rooftop will propel your building into the future. 

Here are three suggestions to help you make your building better when selecting a rooftop unit.  


1. Dual-fuel rooftop units: a stepping-stone to electrification: The drive towards electrification and decarbonization across the country is making heat pumps an environmentally conscious solution. To date, however, the performance of traditional heat pumps has proven challenging in cold weather climates where heating-day requirements often exceed capabilities.

Consider a rooftop unit with a hybrid dual-fuel heat pump which overcomes this challenge by using natural gas on those colder days. These units feature adjustable auxiliary heating in which the electric heat pump serves as the primary heating source while natural gas is activated only on an as-needed basis. These units can help you both increase efficiency and reduce your environmental impact. 


2. Variable speed equipment can optimize your efficiency: Adding a variable-speed option to your rooftop unit is another way to optimize efficiency and sustainability, reducing your carbon footprint. With the flexibility to adjust speed based on demand, variable speed roof top units run more effectively than traditional constant volume units.

Traditional rooftop units feature compressors which can only be turned on or off. In other words, they perform at 100 percent capacity or at 0 percent capacity. Variable speed compressors, however, allow you to run at the capacity needed at a particular time, for example 40 percent of capacity when that is all that is needed. Other times it may run at 60 or 100 percent of capacity.

In addition to varying the indoor fan speed, when properly sized, a variable speed rooftop unit also provides ancillary humidity control by reducing the need for active dehumidification without equipment add-ons or additional expense. In other words, the system keeps humidity at a comfortable level so that additional dehumidification efforts may not be needed.


3. Precise unit controls make the difference: Selecting a rooftop unit with precise building controls can enable you to program in unit performance to draw out the results you need. Look for unit controls that allow you to:

  • Achieve precise staged and/or modulating control of gas heat and electric cooling to help ensure optimal efficiency
  • Ensure that appropriate heating and cooling usage is only applied during occupied periods
  • Manage levels of outdoor air intake to properly ventilate without introducing unnecessary warm or cool air
  • Provides intuitive diagnostics and alarm notifications to ensure equipment maintains operational effectiveness and efficiency

Rooftop replacements provide opportunities beyond changing out end-of-life equipment.  Viewing replacements as a chance to improve on your building’s performance while also getting ahead of current and future regulatory changes can help you decrease risk, improve tenant satisfaction and move your building forward on the decarbonization journey.

Review your options now to get ahead of upcoming regulations and reduce the impact of price hikes and supply chain issues. 


Kasey Boxleitner

About the author
Becky Wacker, Area General Manager

Becky Wacker is the Area General Manager for Trane. She leads and manages over 150 professionals across sales, services, and execution for the company’s offices located in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. Becky has over 12 years of experience in building energy controls and management and has helped build efficiency solutions in multiple sales leadership roles throughout her career. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Minnesota and is also a LEED Accredited Professional.