Commercial Buildings Are Leaking

Most HVAC contractors know duct leakage in commercial buildings is a big issue. And if the recent survey from Aeroseal LLC and the Building Commissioning Association (BCA) is correct, building professionals see the problem — and guess who they are holding responsible?

The results from the December 2015 survey jump off the page:
• 73 percent of responding engineers and other building professionals believe most U.S. buildings today have significant duct leakage;
• 75 percent of respondents believe leaky ducts contribute substantially to energy loss in commercial buildings;
• 72 percent have found significant duct leakage most prevalent in existing buildings; and
• 25 percent have found significant duct leakage prevalent even in new buildings.

A HUGE PROBLEM

Survey respondents were all BCA members employed as engineers, commissioning agents, facility managers, etc.

I am sure the results do not surprise many, as most commercial contractors are aware of this problem in the field. Obviously, the big issue with leaking ducts is the loss of energy. I have seen some reports that say duct leakage is the cause of nearly $25 billion annually in energy losses. However, it also leads to IAQ issues, health problems, and loss of productivity.

John Villani, who sits on the international board of directors for BCA, sees this as a huge problem, and he is pointing the finger directly at HVAC contractors.

“Systems are going in all over the country, and, in many cases, lots of projects are not commissioned,” Villani said. “The level of quality control is moderate, at best. Basically, the contractors bolt up the ductwork, put the clips on, and they move on. Sometimes a low-level person comes through with a duct sealant that is a paint brush and a can.
That is what you get as your duct-sealing system. Where is the quality control in that?”

For better or worse, that is the perception out there. Are you doing it the right way? If so, there is a big opportunity for those types of contractors to differentiate themselves from their peers.

STANDING ABOVE

HVAC contractors are always looking for a way to differentiate themselves. Addressing duct leakage is a big opportunity. This is something building professionals are concerned about, so it should be an area of focus for contractors.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) ranks duct sealing third among all HVAC-related upgrades available to commercial building owners for significant energy savings. The agency’s Federal Energy Management Program also ranks duct sealing as one of the 10 most effective energy-saving strategies for both new and existing buildings.

“I see the sealing of ductwork from the inside as the easiest way to seal ductwork. I see that as a huge benefit to tackling a problem that could not be tackled any other way,” Villani said. “I don’t believe contractors, as a whole, are familiar with products like Aeroseal or have the awareness that these options even exist. It’s often still new to contractors.”

As with anything, the key is to do it right the first time. In order to have a happy client, ductwork should be installed correctly. Like most installations in the HVAC industry, many contractors are doing an excellent job while others are falling short and giving the industry a bad name.

The other part of the equation is the large number of commercial buildings that are currently out there with leaky ductwork. Those are opportunities for new business. Prove that you can solve the problem and make the building both more comfortable and energy efficient and you are telling a compelling story. Figure out what the best tool is to fix this problem and use it. Your company will benefit.

Source: The NEWS

Aspen Air Duct Cleaning is a certified Aeroseal Dealer, licensed and insured. Please contact Aspen Air Duct Cleaning at 1-800-931-6653 for professional air duct and dryer vent inspection, cleaning, and repair. Or email info@aspenenvironmentalservices.com

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CASE STUDY: HUGE ENERGY SAVINGS PROVE TO BE A SLAM DUNK FOR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BUILDING IN SIOUX FALLS, SD

A Weekend Duct Sealing Project Yields Thousands Of Dollars In Reduced Energy Costs

The Houwman building in downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota has been witness to a lot of transformations over its 88-year history. About a year ago, the building’s current owners hired TAB Systems Inc. to do some mechanical maintenance on the three-story structure. The initial work helped improve the performance of the building’s two HVAC systems, but TAB knew that leaks in the ductwork prevented them from maximizing HVAC efficiency. At the time, sealing those leaks would have required tearing down and then rebuilding the firewalls that stood between the ductwork and the sealers. Not only was this an enormously expensive proposition, but it also would have had an irreversible impact on a structure that has become a part of the city’s history.

Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Brief:
Building: Houwman Federal Building
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Aeroseal Contractors: TAB Systems Inc.
Goal: Reduce Energy Costs
Before Aeroseal: 2,849 CFM of leakage (total)
After Aeroseal: 379 CFM of leakage
Results: Reduced leakage by approximately 87%, which resulted in a 56% reduction in the cost for ventilation and 31% reduction in the cost to heat and cool the building.

Since that time, TAB Systems has become a qualified Aeroseal duct sealing representative. Armed with this new technology that seals ducts from the inside, they went back to the building owners and showed them how their ductwork could now be effectively sealed without having to disrupt a single wall. They assured the building owners that in addition to saving energy, Aerosealing the ductwork would improve the overall indoor comfort of the building as well.

It took TAB Systems one weekend to effectively seal the ductwork of the two systems. This had a dramatic impact on overall system efficiency, slowing down the variable frequency drives and reducing fan speed requirements. When the tenants returned on Monday, everyone instantly noticed that the building was a lot quieter. Some wondered if the heat was even turned on. More impressive, calculations showed that the building owners would now be saving about $1,290 each year in overall energy cost.

Houwman Federal Building
First, it quieted the system – our tenants noticed the difference right away. In addition, it reduced our gas bill with more efficient heating and cooling. More significantly, it reduced the load on the system’s two turbo fans, the reheat coil and air chillers, saving us a lot on electricity. To me, Aeroseal technology is revolutionary for both retrofit projects like this, and for new systems. There’s just no way anyone can expect to get a tight seal on a manually constructed duct system. By Aerosealing from the start, you’ll make sure you are getting the air to go just where it’s supposed to go – a critical component of overall operating cost savings. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give this whole experience a 10.”

— Grant Houwman, H4j1 Development Companies LLC, Houwman Federal Building, Sioux Falls, SD

Along with providing an additional revenue stream, offering Aeroseal provides us with a real competitive advantage against other test and balance service providers in the area. We know we have 20-years worth of customers that we can now go back to and offer a service that will add real value to their buildings. I expect that in a short time, the duct-sealing portion of our business will be as substantial as our test and balancing services.”

— Paul Ronken, TAB Systems Inc., Sioux Falls, SD

Before-After

 

 

 

Aeroseal – The Technology
In the Aeroseal process, the sealant doesn’t coat the duct interior but instead, concentrates around the leak. An aerosol-mist of sealant is blown throughout the interior of the ductwork. The microscopic particles of sealant remain suspended in air until they reach a leak. Here they cling to the edge of the hole and then to other sealant particles until the leak is completely sealed.
• Developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1994.
• Research for Aeroseal technology was partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
• Aeroseal is delivered as a non-toxic aerosol mist that seeks out and plugs leaks.
• Aeroseal has proven to be 95% effective at sealing air duct leaks.

Aspen Air Duct Cleaning is a certified Aeroseal Dealer, licensed and insured. Please contact Aspen Air Duct Cleaning at 1-800-931-6653 for professional air duct and dryer vent inspection, cleaning, and repair. Or email info@aspenenvironmentalservices.com

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