Carefully managing airflow around research buildings can save a bundle. Phoenix Controls has the tools and the talent to keep your labs safe, ventilated and cost-effective.

It’s no secret that research buildings are by far the highest net energy consumers per square foot on any campus. The average cost of conditioning and moving one cubic foot per minute (CFM) of air in a 100% exhaust system is currently between $6 and $15. Moving 10,000ft3 a year at $10/CFM, would set you back $100,000 annually, so being able to manage every cubic foot of conditioned air is an opportunity to save energy and money.

Where does one start? End-to-end control is a good strategy: using variable air volume ventilation with demand-based usage. Variable air volume (VAV) – as opposed to constant volume – is the quickest and easiest way to reduce energy consumption in lab HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).

Demand-based ventilation/Usage Based Controls®, on the other hand, allow the airflow demand to be governed either by localised air quality monitoring, or by the level of activity at an exhaust point (a fume hood, for example). The payback for either of these strategies begins immediately with reduced HVAC energy consumption without compromising safety.

Sustained pressure

Effective VAV starts with a venturi valve that supports high turndown ratios, enabling lower air change rates during unoccupied times and providing the flexibility to take advantage of ANSI’s new Z9.5 fume hood minimum code guidelines. Venturi valves are also shut-off capable; complete shut-off means conditioned air isn’t needlessly vented for an unused room, or fume hood, while room pressure and safety are maintained.

High-turndown venturi valves also increase performance at low pressures with fan static reset (an airflow optimiser). Pressure transducers in the duct work continuously feed data to the building management system (BMS), enabling ventilation fans to be trimmed to the lowest practical speed while maintaining the static pressure required for the targeted airflow.

Demand-based ventilation and Usage Based Controls take different approaches to the same goal, which is to restrict airflow to what is necessary without compromising safety or room pressure. Applications that combine demand-based ventilation with reduced fan static have reduced the amount of exhausted conditioned air by over 35%, based on occupancy, and by as much as half, based on air quality monitoring.

Usage Based Controls are implemented at the source of the demand. The Zone Presence Sensor® (also known as ZPS® sensor) signals adjustments to fume hood exhaust valves based on researcher presence/absence at the fume hood, while continuously maintaining safety and volumetric offset.

Fume hood monitors reduce airflow by interacting with the BMS to eliminate waste by means of localised monitoring and commands, as well as by multiple settings (standby, setback, hibernation, energy waste alarm).

The amount of conservable energy will be influenced by where you start from and what you are able to implement, but with Phoenix Controls’ project experience your expectations can reasonably include:

  • lowering the ACH (air changes per hour) with demand-based ventilation to reduce the amount of exhausted conditioned air by up to 50% in a given space
  • depending on the age of HVAC system and applications being used, effectively managing and monitoring exhausted conditioned for a 30-50% reduction in annual utility costs for that application
  • reducing fume hood energy use by 40% by using a ZPS with a monitor.

Phoenix Controls products can effectively manage and monitor exhausted conditioned air to achieve a 30-50% reduction in utility costs. What this means in terms of the overall return on your investment is case-dependent, but what is guaranteed is that there is no downside to saving money.

Facilities like yours work hard to develop energy savings programmes while maintaining safety and operational research integrity. You have to make bottom-line fact-based decisions. Airflow control solutions from Phoenix Controls are designed to be flexible and configurable to your evolving programs. For example:

The LEED Platinum Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University represents the State of Arizona’s largest research infrastructure investment. According to Michael McLeod, director of research infrastructure at the Biodesign Institute: "Phoenix Control valves were chosen for their known reliability in operation. Since installation, their flexible capacities have helped facilitate and propelled our sustainability programmes".

The LEED Gold-certified and R&D Magazine 2012 Laboratory of the Year Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery targeted a 50% CO2 reduction and 50% lower water use for sustainability targets. The research facility houses BSL-3 and other labs.

"All of the fume hoods in this building have [Phoenix Controls] Celeris high-speed valves with shut-off capabilities," said Dan Bergmann from Masters Building Solutions, who supplied Phoenix Controls venturi valves for labs in the building. "The optional shut-off feature is ideal because the labs are periodically re-arranged based on the different researchers’ needs."

Providing more than just basic directional airflow control, Phoenix Controls can help you manage and monitor use.

Varying the level of ventilation to the level of use means you only pay for what you need. Our Usage Based Controls adapt directional airflow to demand. The Zone Presence Sensor® (also known as the ZPS® sensor) regulates airflow based on the presence/absence of personnel within a monitored, configurable fume hood workspace. Fume Hood Monitors (FHMs) provide interactive control (user/BMS) that eliminates wasted airflow at the fume hood with localised monitoring and commands (standby, setback, hibernation, energy waste alarm). FHM patented technology can achieve up to a 40% savings in exhausted conditioned air.

System management relies on accurate real-time data. Even an automated building management system doesn’t always provide the monitoring data you need. Phoenix Control’s dashboards fill that information gap with web-based pages, customised to each facility’s system and users, accessible from any browser, and delivering real-time, actionable data from the BACnet® network for Phoenix Controls or third-party airflow control systems, sensors and monitors.

Phoenix Controls designs and manufactures precision airflow control systems for critical room environments. We supply end-to-end solutions including local controls, monitoring, usage-based controls and system dashboards. You can find our products in research facilities and wet labs, hospitals and clean rooms. Our products are CE, CSA and UL certified, RoHS compliant, and installed worldwide from Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Singapore to the University of Alberta (Canada) and the Instituto Nazionale dei Tumori (Italy). Nearly one million Phoenix Controls valves and controls systems are installed worldwide − making a difference every day for a safer, more sustainable workplace and a healthier planet.