Architectural / System / Financial Constraints For Selecting A Suitable Air Conditioning System

There are several choices for air distribution, each satisfying the HVAC objectives with different degrees of success. The best design shall consider the pertinent architectural and financial constraints without sacrificing the performance in terms of reliability, indoor air quality and energy efficiency.

While HVAC system design is a responsibility of HVAC designer, an architect has to oversee the complete building project on a wider perspective. The type of system selected is determined by HVAC designer's knowledge of systems. Architect must also understand the basics, system objectives, the role of key system components, the type of systems that are available and what such systems can and cannot accomplish.

In selecting a suitable air conditioning system for a particular application, considerations are given to the following: -

1. Architectural Constraints:
• Details of architecture and building construction
• Floor space and clear heights to accommodate HVAC equipment and distribution elements
• Aesthetics
• Size and appearance of terminal devices
• Coordinating reflected ceiling plans with lighting, fire sprinklers/detectors
• Acceptable noise level
• Space available to house equipment and its location relative to the conditioned space
• Shaft spaces available for routing ducts/pipes etc
• Climate and shading
• Indoor & outdoor equipment preferences
• Acceptability of components obtruding into the conditioned space
• Codes & standards, smoke removal systems
• Usage patterns
• Occupancy

2. System constraints:
• Type of facility/indoor conditions required
• Cooling/heating load
• Zoning requirements
• Humidification/dehumidification need
• Energy availability & efficiency
• Redundancy and equipment configuration
• Type of Equipment
• Reliability of operations
• Control scheme
• Zone/individual control

3. Financial Constraints :-
• Capital cost
• Operating cost
• Maintenance cost
• Replacement costs
• Upgrading costs
• Equipment failure costs
• Return of investment (ROI)/Life cycle analysis

Depending on the customer’s goals each of these concerns has different priority. Most customers may not understand HVAC design aspects; their benefits and limitations and it is the architect’s and HVAC engineer's responsibility to guide and advise the best option. For HVAC engineer the customer may be an architect whose customer may be the building owner.

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