Industry Blogs

Energy experts at the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) are forecasting three commercial building trends that will see significant growth in 2021, including the need for on-demand water heating, energy efficient retrofits, and the integration of CHP systems. “At their core, all of these trends come back to the need for clean, efficient, and Read more

Energy experts at the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) are forecasting three commercial building trends that will see significant growth in 2021, including the need for on-demand water heating, energy efficient retrofits, and the integration of CHP systems.

“At their core, all of these trends come back to the need for clean, efficient, and resilient energy sources, like propane,” said Bryan Cordill, director of residential and commercial business development at PERC. “Propane provides key benefits to both the builder and the building owner or operator, including the ability to meet economic, environmental, and efficiency goals in their projects.”

PERC predicts these three existing trends will see continued growth in 2021:

On-demand water heating will continue to be a priority in commercial buildings.

Water heating can account for up to 25 percent of all energy use in some commercial buildings. Together, lodging, healthcare, mercantile, education, food service, and office spaces represent about 85 percent of all commercial building water heating energy consumption. Commercial building owners and operators have a critical need for reliable, efficient, and affordable water heating systems. Propane tankless water heaters, sometimes referred to as on-demand water heaters, heat water only when it’s needed, eliminating the space need for a storage tank while also eliminating the standby losses associated with maintaining a tank of hot water.

Buildings will turn to energy-efficient retrofits.

Buildings account for approximately 40 percent of worldwide energy use, according to the World Building Council for Sustainable Development. This staggering statistic is leading to an increasing demand for energy efficient upgrades and retrofits to aging building systems. Plus, new norms brought on by the pandemic will continue to affect how building owners maintain and design their properties. For many professionals working in the hospitality and restaurant spaces, this means extending operations outdoors using propane patio heaters and other propane-powered outdoor amenities. And for many others, this means improving indoor air quality in buildings by using clean, low-emissions HVAC systems.

CHP systems will continue to see steady market growth.

The global combined heat and power (CHP) installation market size is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1 percent from 2020 to 2027. These systems are growing in popularity because of the unique advantages they offer including efficiency, resiliency, and affordability. Most notably, they can achieve efficiency of more than 90 percent. These systems have the potential to fulfill the demand for space or water heating and cooling in buildings, as well as provide electricity to supplement on site renewables or grid supply.

Propane grants construction professionals the power and versatility to power all of a building’s major energy systems with clean, resilient, and energy-efficient power. And because it’s stored on site, construction projects aren’t limited to locations accessible by the natural gas mains.

“Propane is a viable solution for all of the top industry trends, and professionals who are well-versed in propane’s capabilities and benefits in this space will be at an advantage as these trends continue,” Cordill said.

To learn more about commercial propane applications, visit Propane.com/Commercial-Buildings-and-Construction.

By Glenn Esser As the novel COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the United States, ensuring healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important part of helping lower the rate of infections. Studies have demonstrated that higher ventilation rates have a direct impact on reducing the spread of microbials in workplaces and other occupied spaces Read more

By Glenn Esser

As the novel COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the United States, ensuring healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important part of helping lower the rate of infections. Studies have demonstrated that higher ventilation rates have a direct impact on reducing the spread of microbials in workplaces and other occupied spaces. The benefit of higher levels of outside air (OA) intake is that more OA will help slow the rate of microbial growth (including viruses such as COVID-19) by diluting the concentration of any contaminates that might be present in the air…such as smoke or any VOC (odor).

As the winter months approach, more people will be forced indoors. It will be important to ensure that outside air intake, along with ventilation rates for each space, are set to nothing less than the required minimum ventilation rates. ASHRAE Standard 62.1, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, specifies minimum outside air intake rates. More ventilation air changes per hour in a space, along with increased outside air intake when combined with other measures, most important of which is wearing a mask at all times, washing hands frequently and maintaining social distance of six feet or greater will help to minimize adverse health effects. Reducing the amount of virus-containing particles in a space is best accomplished by wearing a mask. Ventilation and the introduction of outside air helps dilute and displace any air pollution in the space.

Review your building’s air movement from supply to return and turn off ceiling fans that simply move the air around. The air handler’s operating sequence should be reviewed in the interest of safeguarding occupant health and safety. Demand control ventilation (DCV), which reduces outside ventilation air based on CO2 parts per million (PPM) measurements should be overridden for conference rooms or set to “occupied” to bring in more ventilation air at all times , not just when levels reach some maximum setpoint level. Lower target CO2 PPM operating setpoints will bring in more air. For example, if the building’s sequence has a max or target CO2 setpoint of 1000 PPM, this is roughly 15 CFM per person. By lowering the target CO2 setpoint to 800 PPM, reducing the CO2 PPM target will introduce about 30 CFM per person. When set to 100% OA the setpoint will be 400 PPM.

More outside air can be more expensive to heat or cool depending on the temperature differential between indoors and outside. More outside air can increase utility costs. The trade-off between increased outside air ventilation (and subsequent higher utility costs) and occupant’s health must be taken into consideration.  Will increasing the level of outside air ensure occupants will not get sick? No, it will not. Is introducing more than the required minimum outside air better? Yes…however, bring in NO MORE than the maximum OA possible; remaining within the ability of the heating and cooling system to maintain comfortable temperatures and healthy indoor humidity levels between 40% to 60%.

Check outside air intakes, air measurement stations and outside air dampers to confirm all are working correctly. Consider upgrading air filters from MERV 8 to MERV 13 or MERV 14 increasing the filtering of recirculated air. Moisture eliminators on outside air intakes should be clean and free of obstructions. It may be helpful to bring in a Test and Balance contractor to confirm outside airflow is at the very least meeting minimum airflows as required by building codes.

Ruskin has a full line of air measurement products that can be used to directly measure and control outside air intake. Contact your local Ruskin representative for assistance selecting air measurement products to help make your building healthy, safe and efficient.

Glenn Esser is Application Engineer, Air Measurement, Ruskin.

Construction projects require a great deal of careful planning. Despite this, there are many ways that a project can go wrong. Identifying, analyzing, and managing risks are essential for the feasibility of a project. There must be procedures in place that help you identify risk early on. Some risks are apparent, while other risks might Read more

Construction projects require a great deal of careful planning. Despite this, there are many ways that a project can go wrong. Identifying, analyzing, and managing risks are essential for the feasibility of a project. There must be procedures in place that help you identify risk early on.

Some risks are apparent, while other risks might not be. In either case, having a risk mitigation strategy prepares the contractor in case of an unforeseen circumstance. As a contractor, your ability to manage risks is vital for the successful completion of a project.

The following describes a list of risks that you might face and how to mitigate them.

1. Inadequate budget

Budget is one of the most sensitive topics and also the most discussed topic on a construction project. Miscalculation of cost, budget shortfalls, and waste of material are some reasons that can lead to budget shortfalls.

Mitigation: Construction project management software plans your budget while keeping subcontractors in mind—helping you with finances as well. With such software, you can track project deadlines and generate invoices. It also assists in allocating resources to employees. You can avoid budget shortfalls by distributing the budget using management software.

2. Poor scheduling

One of the reasons for project delays is poor scheduling by the manager. Not accounting for the smallest of actions can cause long delays. It shows a lack of communication between subcontractors, employees, and the project manager. As a result, frustration arises as work gets delayed.

Mitigation: Use software tools for scheduling and making a project timeline. Share the project timeline with subcontractors and your employees. The latest construction management tools also have cloud accessibility. You can access the project timeline anywhere and on any device you want. Also, have a plan B in place in case of a schedule conflict.

3. Safety Hazards

A work environment with safety hazards can lead to injuries and—in extreme cases—mortalities. Safety hazards can lead to employee resentment, lack of quality, and delays. As a contractor, you must ensure a safe working environment for your employees.

Mitigation: To mitigate this risk, train the laborers and the employees on safety management. Moreover, all safety protocols should be strictly adhered to and shared with the employees.

4. Miscommunication

Miscommunication can cause disputes within the construction team and with the client as well. Disputes between subcontractors and stakeholders in a construction project are not uncommon. Not only does it lead to a bad work environment, but it can also lead to unwarranted delays and a lack of quality work.

Mitigation: To avoid miscommunication and disputes, make sure to document everything. Document the meetings that you have with subcontractors and the client. Moreover, keep all the employees on the same page through regular communication via email, calls, and text messages. Share the project timeline with subcontractors so that they know what tasks require attention.

5. Unforeseen Circumstances

Unforeseen circumstances can throw the project timeline out of the window. Accidents, bad weather, and other unexpected risks at a construction site add to the stress level of a contractor and construction manager.

Mitigation: While a construction manager cannot avoid all the risks, there are some ways to be prepared for it. By staying ahead (of the schedule), one can reduce the impact of a risk. Likewise, keep an extra budget for dealing with risks and unexpected circumstances. Check weather forecasts for the duration of the project.

Conclusion

Risks can cause increased budgets, delays, and a toxic work environment. A risk management procedure in place that identifies, transfers, and mitigates the risk is essential for successful project completion. As a construction manager, deal with risks on the basis of their probability and impact. Deal with high probability risks first and then deal with low probability risk. The same goes for impact.

You might be surprised to know that more than 50% of the reported work-related injuries in the United States are due to manual handling. This is specifically true for those employees who work in construction, transportation, agriculture, and storage. These people are at greater health risks and are more likely to suffer from some sort Read more

You might be surprised to know that more than 50% of the reported work-related injuries in the United States are due to manual handling. This is specifically true for those employees who work in construction, transportation, agriculture, and storage. These people are at greater health risks and are more likely to suffer from some sort of injury. This is why purchasing safety equipment from a lifting equipment store can be quite beneficial. The lifting equipment contributes to a company’s safety standards while significantly reducing the risks of work-related injuries.

Read on to learn more about some top steps to ensure safer ways to lift and handle.

Assess the Environment and Work Situations

Before the employees start with their day, they ought to consider the weights that they are to lift in connection to the distance that they are to cover. This means that a thorough assessment of the situation is an essential step to safer lifting and weight handling. This also includes measuring the distance from the pick-up spot of the load to the point where it is to set down. The employees should refrain from lifting more than what they can safely manage. The frequency of their activity also plays a role in their well-being. A careful assessment of the work situation and workload includes evaluating what can be lifted safely and what will require lifting equipment. Lifting equipment can assist with the mechanical completion of the task instead of laboring with it manually. You might also want to switch to mechanical help for the coverage of greater distance.

Rearrangement of the Task

If the task at hand seems dangerous, it is always worth checking whether it can be rearranged instead of hot-headedly proceeding with it. If greater risks are involved, the employees might want to avoid lifting load altogether. Precautionary steps have to be taken so that potential risks of injury can be minimized. For instance, if a heavy load is involved, the employees might want to rearrange the task to push the weight instead of pulling it. The inclusion of more resting points in the face of more distance is also a good idea to minimize the potential risks of injury.

Rearrangement of the task includes the assessment of the nature of the weight. If a heavy load can be broken into smaller units, it will ease the task and decrease work-related injury risks. The employees also need to assess whether they can grasp the load easier by getting a better grasp on it. Another idea might be to pack up sharp items into solid boxes to prevent the objects.

Safer Lifting techniques

The implementation of safer lifting techniques includes the addition of lifting equipment. These will decrease the pressure on employees while improving their productivity. More work can be accomplished within less time, without imposing the risks of getting injured or damaging the loaded items. In addition to lifting equipment, the employees need to focus on adopting better and more stable body postures during their tasks.

Commercial HVAC maintenance systems are designed to provide a comfortable and safe environment for  personnel working in an industrial or commercial facility. HVAC systems are now a crucial element of commercial and industrial establishments since they can have a significant positive impact on worker productivity. Hence, companies should make use of leading industrial HVAC solutions Read more

Commercial HVAC maintenance systems are designed to provide a comfortable and safe environment for  personnel working in an industrial or commercial facility. HVAC systems are now a crucial element of commercial and industrial establishments since they can have a significant positive impact on worker productivity. Hence, companies should make use of leading industrial HVAC solutions with proper boiler inspector training to keep their systems in good running order.

Depending on weather conditions and the working environment, commercial HVAC systems may be subjected to heavy loads. Although commercial HVAC systems are heavy duty equipment they require regular preventive maintenance to work reliably. Commercial HVAC equipment comprises both mechanical and electrical components that will be subjected to wear and tear every day. Regular maintenance through industrial HVAC solutions is necessary to prevent unexpected breakdowns and shortened lifespans.

Here are the most common industrial HVAC problems that are routinely encountered.

1.   Compressor Issues

The compressor lies at the very core of the HVAC system. It is the workhorse that powers air conditioners and heat pumps. Hence, any problems with the compressor are bound to have a major impact on the HVAC system in question.

Leaks are some of the most common problems that prevent compressors from operating efficiently. Hence, you must look out for signs of leaks like stagnant oil accumulating near service ports.

Another problem is a scrambled compressor. In this case, you must look for an audible rather than a visual sign. Scrambled compressors run much more loudly than normal compressors do. There will be a loud humming sound which may indicate leakage of the refrigerant.

2.   Condenser Problems

Dirty or clogged condenser coils can hinder the flow of refrigerant and will thus disrupt the entire working cycle. Your compressor will then have to work much harder for the same refrigerant flow rate.

Besides internal blockages, dirt and debris may also accumulate on the outside of condenser coils. This is easily visible. You should thus clean up condenser coils regularly to prevent the buildup of dust and debris. This material is undesirable because it interferes with the heat transfer capabilities of the condenser coil. The coil will be unable to reject heat efficiently to the surroundings. In other words, it will not be able to do its job properly which helps to complete the working cycle.

3.   Condenser Fan

There could also be an issue with the condenser fan. There can be various problems with the fan such as misdirected airflow, bad connections and wiring, strong fan blade vibration, short cycling from thermal overload and bearing noise.

4.   Economizer Problems

You can be fairly certain that the economizer is malfunctioning if it does not engage when the outside temperature falls under 55 degrees. When the outside air temperature falls below 55 degrees then return dampers should remain shut while outside air dampers should open up. The buildup of dirt is one main reason why economizers fail to work correctly. When debris and dust accumulate on controls, linkages, gears and dampers then there could be an economizer malfunction.

Besides the lack of proper maintenance, the absence or poor condition of outside air filters is a factor behind economizer malfunction. This may be averted through preventive maintenance.

5.   Evaporator Problems

One key purpose of air filters is to keep the evaporator coil in good condition. If the air filters are not correctly placed or are too dirty then dust laden air may get through. This air may impinge on the evaporator and deposit dirt on its coils. This is less than ideal because dirt buildup on evaporator coils will prevent them from working properly. Dirt will interfere with heat transfer and thus prevent the evaporator coil from functioning properly. The operational efficiency of the HVAC system will fall.

The condensate drain pan may also undergo problems. If the drain gets clogged then water can accumulate. There will be a buildup of dirt and slime with time if the stagnant water is not cleared. Such a problem can impact air quality and lead to water damage. The drain pan may also start rusting and leaking if the problem is not fixed.

6.   Evaporator Fan

Evaporator fans can face several issues that could prevent them from functioning as intended. These issues include but are not limited to locked motor, electrical failure, motor failure, bearing noise and fan vibrations. The belt may also come loose which can bring down rotation speed. This can be easily noticed though since the fan will be visibly slower or may come to a stop.

7.   Electrical Problems

Problems with electrical connections will interfere with the flow of electrical power and could shut down key components in the HVAC system. Overheating of wires and connections is a major source of safety concern since this can lead to fire and damaged equipment.

When rust and soot particles from heat exchangers accumulate, the burner efficiency may plunge. There could also be other problems due to this issue like pilot failure and poor combustion from flame roll out.

8.   Housing Issues

Most unit housing issues are easily visible so you should be able to spot them in time. These problems may include missing panel insulation, poorly fitting panels and bent panels.

If the HVAC unit is operating near the coast the housing may begin to rust. This is also common with older systems.

Solution

The best way to fix these problems is to catch them as soon as they transpire so that system performance and integrity is not further compromised. Failure to notice these problems in time may lead to bigger complications and be more expensive. That is why it is necessary to collaborate with qualified professionals for regular preventive maintenance since this is the industry best practice for keeping HVAC systems in good shape.

You should get in touch with the premier commercial HVAC service to keep your HVAC investment safe.

Steve Graves is unmatched in his experience and ability to handle complex energy system solutions for industries from medical to nuclear power plants. He has a relentless focus on servicing the customer by providing HVAC and steam boiler operator training. Steve was responsible for many large scale efforts like bringing the ethanol boiler business to Superior and brings all that experience to Campbell-Sevey. Steve is the utmost professional at his job. His word is his bond.