More VRF advantages. So the future of sustainable buildings is clear.
Whether driven by regulations or stakeholder values, sustainability is a bigger priority for many building owners today--but rarely is it the only deciding factor. VRF’s growing popularity may stem from its ability to do more for building owners and occupants.
Personalization keeps occupants comfortable. VRF systems allow for multiple set points that are specific to occupant usage and individual comfort preferences. Rather than maintaining an average temperature setting across the system, VRF lets each occupant choose. For example, one employee can set their office to 65° F while their neighbor selects 72° F. Individuals can also have control over fan speed and air-flow direction for truly personalized comfort.
Greater retrofitting flexibility makes it easier to improve the sustainability of existing buildings. VRF systems are more compact and require less ductwork than conventional equipment. Additionally, their smaller footprint means they require fewer alterations to building facades, making them ideal for owners and developers who want to maintain the integrity of historical buildings.
They’re quiet. Lower operating sound levels mean the equipment will not disturb guests inside rooms. It also keeps surrounding outdoor spaces free from disruptive mechanical noise, which makes them more suitable for use near profit-generating amenities like rooftop restaurants or entertaining spaces.
They’re electric. The grid is getting greener. In 2022, solar and wind are expected to add more than 60 percent of the utility-scale generating capacity to the U.S. power grid (46 percent from solar, 17 percent from wind). Electrified heating taps into the sustainability benefits of electricity that is generated using cleaner energy sources. Additionally, the electrification of heat is one of the biggest steps to reduce buildings’ direct fossil fuel use. In the United States, 13 percent of GHG emissions are caused by the direct use of fossil fuels for cooling, heating and cooking. As we move toward a fully renewable grid, electrified buildings will be better prepared for the clean energy future.
And they’re energy efficient. The heat pump technology at the core of VRF systems is inherently energy efficient. Instead of water or air, they use refrigerant to move heat throughout a building. VRF systems’ advanced control capabilities allow for the modulation of refrigerant that’s sent to each zone according to occupancy-based demand, which reduces the amount of energy that can be wasted by heating or cooling spaces unnecessarily.
VRF helps communities and organizations meet sustainability targets. Utilities, states, cities, agencies and nonprofits have published a steady stream of studies and reports on how strategic electrification is the best way to achieve ambitious carbon emission reduction goals. Research conducted by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) showed GHG emission reductions of up to 41 percent for older large office buildings retrofitted with VRF systems. The equipment included in the study demonstrated baseline VRF system performance and didn’t include the most highly efficient models or BAS-enablement that are possible today. Additional energy savings and reductions in GHG emissions are possible with newer equipment designed for cold-climate performance and higher integrated energy-efficiency ratios (IEER) and COP ratings.