World's first comparative study in air distribution systems

Published: 11 October 2018

The ARBS Education and Research Foundation recently released the results of its latest sponsored research into a comparative study in air distribution systems.

The Foundation joined with Team Catalyst to prepare what is a world first comparative study in dynamic simulation analysis of three types of HVAC air distribution systems.

  • Passive chilled beam
  • Underfloor air distribution
  • Variable air volume

The Foundation was established in 2014 to foster and support education, training and research in the air conditioning and refrigeration industries. With the generous financial support of ARBS Exhibitions, each year $50,000 is being added to education and research in the industry by the Foundation.

“So far as we know, there is no other building simulation study comparing these forms of air distribution.” Foundation chairman, Ian Hopkins said.

It was never the intention of the study to determine if one system was superior to another. Rather to compare the operational outcome of the systems which are most prevalent in commercial buildings around Australia.

The outcome of this comparative simulated study provides valuable information to engineers and technical staff engaged in HVAC design and monitoring how systems actually operate in practice.

“Using data from the simulation of a typical 10 storey commercial building in Sydney, the study provides predicted energy intensity for each of the 3 systems. Specific reading are likely to vary a little at other locations, but the findings of the study provide an important starting point for analysis and decision-making in other locations,” Ashak Nathawni AM, Foundation board member said.

For reasons of energy efficiency, a further important outcome of the study is to draw attention to the need to ensure the HVAC equipment installed is the correct size for the building it serves. Far too often HVAC installations are oversized, particularly in central chilled water plant. The study also underscores the important role that proper commissioning of plant plays in its operational efficiency.

The study was carried out by Team catalyst for the Foundation who provided the funding.

A copy of the full report is enclosed and is available for downloading from the Foundation website