5 HVAC Innovations That Are Starting New Trends

5 HVAC Innovations.jpg

Construction isn’t the only industry seeing a shift in thinking.  Technology is advancing and HVAC is not being left out.  What are some new HVAC innovations changing the industry landscape?

1.     Electronic Air Cleaners

People are becoming more aware of the importance of clean air.  They are adding electronic air cleaners which are 40 times more efficient than a filter in removing unhealthy particles.

2.     Right-sizing

Rightsizing HVAC systems brings the system to peak efficiency.  Learn more about right-sizing here.

3.     Ductless HVAC

Ductless HVAC is a great option for buildings built before ducts were common.  Within 5 years, they could represent 15% of the industry revenues.

4.     HVAC Maintenance

HVAC maintenance needs are becoming more and more known.  By rightsizing, changing filters monthly, and having a maintenance agreement in place, building owners can see 10-15 years of life from their HVAC system.

5.     Energy Cost Smarts

The use of Building Automation Systems (BAS), regular maintenance, and cutting power from unused electronics (75% of utility costs are from electronics in standby or off mode) is cutting utility bills for property owners.

 

As home and building owners become more knowledgeable on the link between HVAC and energy costs, the HVAC innovations will become even more prevalent.  We’re excited to see what is to come in the next 10 years.

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Recall Alert: Genie Recalls Aerial Lifts

Genie Aerial Recall (2).jpg

Genie, Redmond, Wash., a Terex Brand, is recalling certain aerial lifts. The company has found that weld debris in the boom tubes could lead to premature and excessive wear of the upper wear pads. This excessive wear can lead to potential damage to the boom tubes and could cause the platform to drop.

Affected models and serial numbers include:

SX-150:

1.       SX15015H-101 to 161

2.       SX15016H-162 to 228

3.       SX150H-500 to 501

SX-180:

1.       SX18014-101 to 196

2.       SX18015-197 to 313

3.       SX18016-314 to 317

4.       SX18016H-318 to 360

5.       SX180H-600 to 602

Those with impacted machines should order a kit to replace the wear pads. Learn more about the recall and find how to order the kit.

The affected machines may remain in service until this safety notice is completed, provided that inspection for wear pads is included as part of the pre-operation inspections outlined in the machine’s operator’s manual.

Company statement: Genie takes issues like this very seriously and has been proactively working with the customers directly impacted by this issue. Genie has updated its manufacturing processes to resolve the issue with new machines in production, as well as have developed a kit to update affected machines in the field. 

 

F.E. Moran to Complete HVAC Project for Willis Tower

Willis Tower HVAC

Chicago, IL – Willis Tower is going to look a little different soon.  Chicago has issued a permit for a $50 million building permit to create a retail, entertainment, and dining space wrap around the building.

The addition will be 300,000 square feet with a glass atrium.  The glass atrium adds an extra layer of complication to the HVAC project, and we are excited to tackle it.

Learn more about the project at Chicago Construction News.

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How to make your HVAC more efficient

HVAC efficient

How do I make my HVAC more efficient?  It’s something that our team at F.E. Moran Mechanical Services gets asked often.  It’s no wonder that this is a hot topic for commercial buildings.  It costs $.98 per 100 cubic feet to heat and cool a commercial facility on average. 

Get Your HVAC System in Top Working Order

Having an energy efficient HVAC system is not difficult if your system is in good working order to begin with.  That is why you want to start with 1) energy efficient, Energy Star HVAC equipment or 2) Commissioning, re-commissioning, or retro-commissioning your current HVAC system.  Commissioning is when you hire an HVAC servicer who works to get the system as efficient as possible.  Retro-commissioning is what it is called the first time a system has been commissioned that has already been installed and used.  Re-commissioning is what it is called when systems are commissioned after the retro-commissioning has taken place.

 

Keep Your System Working Efficiently 

To keep a commercial facility’s HVAC system working efficiently, you should complete the following tasks monthly:  1) Change the filters.  2)  Clean the air conditioning coils.

In addition to these tasks, add a building automation system (BAS).  A BAS can be programmed to reduce the air conditioning when the building is unoccupied and turn it up when the workday starts, saving energy usage.  It also has extra benefits like keeping record of your usage, so you can make smart decisions and a single portal control.  If your commercial business uses multiple buildings, you can control all of the HVAC from one portal, saving money in payroll.

Learn more about energy efficient HVAC here.

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The Moran Group’s New Website Promotes Consumer Learning

website launch

Northbrook, IL – The Moran Group wants the new generation website to focus on providing relevant information to the customer.  Their new website, which can be viewed at www.femoran.com, puts the customer journey first, and they are excited to provide a hub for businesses needing a go-to place for educational content on HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, and the latest on construction.

When a business has a problem – a poor fire sprinkler inspection report, inefficient HVAC, or   plumbing issues – what do most people want to do first?  Research and understand their problem.  The Moran Group will no longer say, buy from us.  They say, here is some information you will find useful,  to better understand  your problem, potential solutions to that problem, and what you might want to consider to find the best provider for your business.  While they appreciate being the best provider for your business, they might not always be.  Through research using the Moran Group learning hub, you can read articles, case studies, take e-courses, or watch videos to learn more about your issue.  Then you can make an informed decision and know that you are getting the best solution for your business.  

Brian Ramsey, President of The Moran Group said, “We are excited to launch our new website that better serves our current and future customers.  Our learning hub allows us to stay up-to-date with new developments in our industry.  With broader access to this information, customers have the opportunity to better understand and evaluate their options related to HVAC, plumbing and fire protection issues.”

Customers and readers will find that the new website is simple, easy to navigate, and full of free information.  A bonus for customers is our Client Portal.  This is a space where customers can privately login to view inspection reports and other documentation.

The Moran Group recognizes the need to go beyond the mechanical trades’ typical sales positioning and provide what our readers can really use:  reliable information to help them make informed decisions.

The Moran Group consists of :  F.E. Moran, HVAC construction; F.E. Moran Plumbing, plumbing design/build and service; F.E. Moran Mechanical Services, HVAC service and retrofit; F.E. Moran Fire Protection Northern Illinois, design/build and service in Northern Illinois; F.E. Moran Fire Protection National, design/build and service nationally; and F.E. Moran Special Hazard Systems, industrial fire protection nationally.  The Moran Group has been serving the commercial, industrial, and residential community for 60 years.  

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Meet Lumastream

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Do you want to not change a light bulb again in your life (well, 50,000 hours)?  Lumastream is a revolutionary building product that Brian Moran, our CEO, loved so much he had them installed in his home.  While Brian had them installed in his home, the impact that Lumastream could have on a business is huge.

Lumastream is a light fixture that only uses 18/2 or 16/2 wire with no conduit necessary.  The technology has no electronics in the fixtures, just an LED chip, so there is less opportunity for early burn out or breaking.  Because of this streamlined design, less heat is produced.  They estimate that consumers save 1 watt of energy for every 3 watts of lighting energy used.  Consumers will get triple their energy efficiency with the LED light bulbs, less energy needed to run the fixtures, and savings in AC costs.

 

The aesthetics are a major pull for commercial facilities.  Dunkin Donuts has Lumastream in a number of their stores.  They can quickly customize the color of their lights to reflect their brand colors or celebrate the holidays.  Dunkin Donuts chose to have the outer rim lights of the building in a sunset hue – like their logo.  The coloring of the bulb is closer to natural light.  Any photographer reading this knows that natural light is the most photogenic and true.  Tesla chose to use Lumastream in all of their dealerships, so the color of the cars seen in dealerships were as accurate as possible to what would be seen on the road.

The Moran Group in partnership with Liaison Automation (LiaisonHomes.com or 888-279-1235) can help you navigate this new technology from concept to design to install and service.  We have a trained team of engineers, programmers and installers who can handle any size project.

 

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Data Center HVAC and the Race to Improve PUE

data center HVAC

Guest Blog By Scott Wilson, HVACSchool.org

 

Every industry has different ventilation and cooling needs that require some level of customization when designing and building systems to meet those demands. You could even say there are as many specialties in the HVAC trade as there are unique ways to tailor systems to different industrial applications. But few have emerged as quickly or have as big a role in the future of the trade as the specialized systems used to keep data centers cool.

Data centers are the engines that run the internet and are what make distributed computing possible, offering efficient performance at a low price. The trend of software being offered as a service (like Microsoft’s Office 365 product) and with the likes of Facebook and Google keeping all their horsepower in remote facilities, thousands and thousands of servers housed in data centers around the world are relied upon to run continuously day and night.

The internet never sleeps and data centers must never go down. Billions of dollars of commerce and information flow through those wires, so data center HVAC work is also mission critical. This has meant incorporating redundancies to keep temperature, humidity, and particulate count within acceptable parameters even if some units go down or if electricity fails.

By all accounts, the reliance on remote data centers will only increase for the foreseeable future. In fact, according to Data Center Dynamics, construction of new data centers will increase at a rate of about nine percent per year through 2019.

Data centers are all about power, and as the laws of thermodynamics dictate, that power turns into heat at some point. Without massive cooling arrangements, all those vital servers would eventually turn into molten metal.

 

Data Center HVAC Has Come a Long Way

 

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is the metric used to measure the energy efficiency of data centers. To find the PUE, you simply take the total energy required to run a data center (including everything from lighting to HVAC) and divide it by the energy used just to run the servers. In 2007, the average PUE for all U.S. data centers was 2, meaning that 2 watts of overhead energy was used for every 1 watt used for computing power.

 

The initial approach to data center cooling was just to drop in big coolers and fans as a way to muscle through the heat. But since even a small reduction in that PUE number can mean millions of dollars in savings on energy consumption, there was a major incentive to develop more efficient and specialized systems.

 

Designs evolved to make use of hot and cool aisles, with servers venting into a hot aisle and large overhead plenums sucking the hot air into chillers to bring the temperature down. Cold air would then be pushed out again beneath raised floors and vented into the cool aisles, where the front edge of the servers would pull it in again.

 

Although this technique provided real advantages over brute-force, whole-room cooling, many HVAC contractors are taking it further still. Now, some centers are expressly located in cold climates to make maximum use of external air temperatures and reduce the reliance on chillers. Others use passive circulation techniques to reduce the need for powerful circulating fans.

 

Advances in HVAC design strategies and technology drove the average PUE down to about 1.7 by 2014. But some data center operators have gone even further, with Google hitting an average PUE of 1.12 across all its data centers as of early 2017.

 

A low PUE is a competitive advantage and HVAC contractors that can put in systems to drop that ratio have a serious edge over the competition. The latest methods for achieving new lows in that PUE number may not even be publicized yet.

 

As a relatively new practice area, data center HVAC work is also evolving at a much more rapid pace than other areas of the trade. According to Google’s VP of Data Center Operations, in almost seven years, the internet giant changed their data center cooling strategy five different times.

 

The tolerances and requirements to hit low PUE ratios while maintaining a high degree of reliability aren’t something you just learn on the job. Understanding the science behind air circulation and the refrigeration cycle are concepts you need on day one, making formal education and training more important for preparing to enter the trade than ever before.

 

Scott is an IT consultant based in the North West and the lead contributor for HVACSchool.org. As a dedicated resource for people exploring HVAC education and training options, the staff at HVACSchool.org works hard to keep up with the latest developments in the industry as a way to keep students and trades-people ahead of the curve.

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Case Study Air Handling Unit Retrofit

Contributor:  Mike Maloni,  Service Project Executive of F.E. Moran Mechanical Services
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

When a fully-staffed office decided they needed a new air handling unit without disrupting business, they called F.E. Moran Mechanical Services for their ability to think outside the box to solve unique issues.

Commercial Facility with Unusual Layout

A Lombard, IL commercial building plagued with high energy bills chose to upgrade to a high efficiency air handling unit on the fourth, sixth, and seventh floors of the high-rise building. The problem: the mechanical room was in the center of an office filled with employees on the sixth and seventh floors. With the need to upgrade the system, but without disrupting business, this commercial business chose F.E. Moran Mechanical Services as the lead contractor to coordinate the difficult task.

Numerous Hurdles Conquered over Holiday Weekend

air handling unit

Due to the location of the mechanical rooms, this project was certain to have obstacles. The first, F.E. Moran had to install a new air handling unit in the center of two occupied floors without disrupting business or disturbing the facility. To solve this problem, the installation was scheduled over the Thanksgiving holiday, to avoid disturbing employees. However, this tight timeline posed its own difficulties. The F.E. Moran Mechanical Services crew now had to tightly coordinate the installation and all sub-contractors scheduled work to ensure all work was complete before employees arrived Monday morning.

The dismantling of the old air handling system posed a new problem. The old air handling unit was built in 1982. It was so large it needed to be dismantled piece by piece to remove it, and the mechanical room needed to be re-structured. The original air handling unit was obtrusive, providing only a foot of space for service personnel to work. Additionally, a vestibule was inside the already small mechanical room, and needed to be taken down without disturbing employees or blemishing the building.

The final hurtle was moving the new air handling unit onto the sixth and seventh floors without disturbing the building. With the issue of moving a large air handling unit and an additional problem of only having passenger elevators to move it in, the team needed to think outside of the box.

Creative Thinking Provides Solid Solutions

F.E. Moran Mechanical Services was hired as the lead contractor, putting them in charge of coordinating all sub-contractors. Mr. Maloni made a color-coordinated schedule for all contractors, detailing when and where each contractor needed to be. Mr. Maloni worked around the clock the days before the project began to ensure perfect coordination and set-up, ultimately resulting in only two hours of sleep between Tuesday and Thursday. Contractors worked from Tuesday morning to Sunday evening, working straight through Thanksgiving. The crews celebrated Thanksgiving together with turkey chili delivered the morning of Thanksgiving by Mr. Maloni's wife.

To move the air handling unit into the building, three foremen built a custom dolly that angled the pieces of the air handling unit into an arrangement that fit into the passenger elevator without scuffing walls, floors, or ceilings. The team built mock up equipment to test paths and angles to ensure the interior remained flawless. In the F.E. Moran shop, the air handling unit was dismantled for passage. The custom dolly seamlessly transported the unit without issue.

Now, the team had to rebuild the air handling unit in the tight mechanical room. To do this, the team added temporary structural beams above the actual structural beams and used them to hoist the 3,000 pound equipment using chain falls into the air to piece the air handling unit together like a puzzle. Mr. Maloni described it as, "building a ship in a bottle."

Mission Accomplished in Six Days

F.E. Moran completed the project in six days. By Monday morning, employees entered their offices without incident. The sixth and seventh floors were clean and back in working order.

air handling unit

Now the commercial facility had a new, energy efficient air handling system with a smooth, non-disruptive installation. The new air handling unit had many benefits. It was much smaller than the original, providing usable room in the mechanical room for service. An added bonus was the energy efficiency. ComEd gave the facility an $8,900 rebate, to be taken directly off their energy bills, as a benefit of having an energy efficient system. While the old system had 2 compressors, the new air handling unit had scroll compressors with a variable frequency drive that gave a smaller electrical pulse when the unit wasn't needed, reducing energy bills and usage.

F.E. Moran Mechanical Services has been providing HVAC mechanical services for commercial facilities for more than twenty years. They were the first US Star Certified mechanical services contractor in the country, installing, maintaining, and repairing complex HVAC and building automation systems for a variety of markets.

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Infinity Tub Installation Case Study

FE Moran Plumbers in Action

infinity tub installation

Project:  PIRCHin Oakbrook Center
Task: Placement and Install of 2400lbs Solid Stone Infinity Tub

After accepting delivery and maneuvering this behemoth through and around approximately 30 tradesmen installing tile, cabinets, and other finishes, the "real work" began.

Months ago, the floor below the tub was reinforced to accept the weight of this 2,400 pound tub which holds approximately 710 pounds of water. The finished product was set to have a small rock feature around the perimeter with a drain to accept the overflow of the "infinity" feature. This means that the tub had to be set on top of a raised platform. This raised platform was built by the GC with a small opening left for our plumbers to tie in the drain line (which is underneath the tub and recessed slightly into the solid stone bottom).

Journeyman Plumber Jim Jolivette was tasked with the burden of lining up the drain pipes as the tub was lowered and then soldering the pieces together in a manner that ensures no leaking into the finished spaces below. With some much needed help from Assistant Project Manager Dan Yungerman (who says the PM staff doesn't get dirty?), the boys finally set, leveled, and squared this $20,000 tub which sits as the centerpiece of a bath display that showcases upwards of $100,000 worth of plumbing fixtures.

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Data Center HVAC Lift Case Study

Contributor:  Mike Maloni, Service Project Executive at F.E. Moran Mechanical Services
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director at The Moran Group

 

data center HVAC lift

 

When a major Chicago data center needed an HVAC change, they contacted F.E. Moran Mechanical Services and Dearborn Engineering to get them out of a tight situation.

Data Center Serving 9th Largest Financial District in the World

Serving one of the largest financial districts in the world, this Chicago data center is an integral part of Chicago business. With more than 183,000 square feet of secure and reliable data center space, they keep businesses running with high-density power configurations. When F.E. Moran Mechanical Services was approached to provide HVAC service for the data center, they were eager to begin and face the upcoming challenges head on.

Two Inches to Spare

This project included adding chillers and evaporative condensers that added up to 20,000 pounds. The equipment needed to be lifted onto the roof of a 7-story building on LaSalle Street, a bustling, compact area.

F.E. Moran Mechanical Services worked with Dearborn Engineering to safely coordinate and complete the lift. They rented the largest truck crane available that was 600 tons. The two groups had to work together to coordinate and maneuver this large piece of equipment between CTA stops and buildings - working in a very tight spot. With the huge crane and tight location, great care needed to be taken in every move they made.

Another issue that showed itself was the deteriorating conditions of Chicago sidewalks along with the data tunnels beneath the sidewalk. The 600 ton crane could cause the sidewalk to crumble beneath it. A solution needed to be found.

Carefully Choreographed Dance

On Friday, February 20, 2015, F.E. Moran Mechanical Services and Dearborn Engineering performed the set-up of the lift site. It was no easy task. They calculated a short swing radius, distance of counter weights to the nearby building, pick-points, and roof edge of the buildings. In the end, they had mere inches between the nearby building and the crane. There was no room for mistakes.

To resolve the crumbling sidewalk issue, Dearborn Engineering cut the sidewalk, tied shoring onto the foundation of the building, and placed two outriggers for support.

On Saturday, the lift was completed: over 100,000 pounds of equipment (with the heaviest piece = 20,000 pounds) was hauled onto the roof of the data center and brought into the new penthouse. It took the entire next day to remove the set-up for the lift

In the end, the coordination, meetings, and detailed planning allowed the lift to go off without a hitch. By the end of the day on Saturday, all HVAC equipment, structural steel, panels, and electrical equipment was safely inside the building. Service Project Executive Mike Maloni said, "This project was both fun and challenging. With careful planning and coordination with the City of Chicago, Coresite, HITT Contracting, Stephenson Crane & Dearborn Engineering, the crane lift went seamlessly. This difficult task allowed us to really exercise our skills. We're very proud of the results."

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Luxury Condo Gets an Upgraded Boiler in the Gold Coast of Chicago

Contributor: Mike Maloni, Service Project Executive at F.E. Moran Mechanical Services
Writer: Sarah Block, Marketing Director at The Moran Group

When F.E. Moran Mechanical Services (MMS) was called to install a new boiler at a Gold Coast luxury condo complex, the work was like building a ship in a bottle.

state of the art boiler

Luxury Condo Almost Has It All

The luxury condo in the affluent Gold Coast neighborhood was built in the mid-1960s and still had the original boiler, which took up approximately 75% of the mechanical room. The high-rise almost has it all, a ballroom with caterer kitchen, indoor swimming pool, exercise facilities, rooftop decks, valet parking and more. What it didn't have was an updated boiler, and it was time to change that. The old boiler was massive, but only had an output of 6 million BTUs with 80% efficiency. It was time to make a change.

MMS' bid was accepted to build boilers and rough in plumbing. F.E. Moran Plumbing was brought in to complete the heat exchangers, domestic water pumps, and pipes.

Small Spaces and Sediment

With 40 floors of condos, having an energy efficient boiler is important. The cost of heating and hot water can be astronomical with one bedroom condos having 2,000 square feet. It was necessary to replace the new boiler; however, it would also be a very difficult task. The boiler was put into the basement of the building before the building was erected. The building was built around the giant boiler. The contractors considered getting an external boiler that would pump in heat from an external source (the project took place in the summer, so comfort heating wasn't an issue); however, it would save $200,000 to work around the existing boiler. It was ultimately decided to work in the small space of the mechanical room rather than get an external boiler.

Because of the decision to work around the boiler, contractors couldn't work at the same time. This caused an obstacle in scheduling work for HVAC. Plumbing, electrical, and demo, and insulation contractors needed to coordinate a tight schedule, made tighter because the water could only be shut off between midnight and 6am.

An added issue was with the fifty year old boiler and pipes, whenever the water was shut off, sediment would run through the pipes clogging showers and sinks. F.E. Moran Mechanical Services needed to find a solution.

Everything Falls into Place

When F.E. Moran Mechanical Services bid on the project, they already had a team compiled, making the project infinitely easier. They brought on Dan Yungerman from F.E. Moran Plumbing, McWilliams for electrical, FCI for GC work, Falls for insulation, and Nicholson for demo. Because the team was already established and familiar with each other, they were able to coordinate and schedule seamlessly. A schedule was determined that allowed for each contractor to have time in the 30x20 room (with 20x20 of the room used by the boiler) on their own to complete the work.

To ease the space issue, eventually the mechanical room was demoed and an older, unused boiler was used in another space and tied into the water system. The mechanical room was then re-designed and ready for the new boilers.

To resolve the sediment issue, F.E. Moran decided to do a pipe freeze. When a pipe freeze is conducted, a jacket is added to the pipe and liquid nitrogen is pumped through. The nitrogen quickly freezes the water in the jacket and blocks the water. This allows work to be done. When the water was shut down without the pipe freeze, 50 condos complained of clogged drains. After the pipe freeze water shut down, only 16 units had sediment issues.

In the end, the project was completed on time and within budget. The new boiler was a success. Instead of having a large, low efficiency boiler, the condo now has 4 small boilers at 2 million BTUs each, totaling 8 million BTUs. It was also 95% efficient, so the building got more heat allowance, more efficiency, and more free space in their mechanical room.

Mike Maloni said, "When MMS collaborated with F.E. Moran Plumbing, it made this project not only turnkey, but also so much easier. We were able to coordinate with each other easily. It was like a ship in a bottle, but it all came together because of careful coordination."

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Profile: Optima Residential and Commercial Building

HVAC for Optima Residential and Commercial Building

Project: Optima Chicago Center
Location: Chicago, IL
Scope - Systems & Services: Design/Build of a Condenser Water System with Hot Water Injection feeding Vertical Stack Heat Pumps and Air Handlers for a 42-story building.

Contributor:  Pete Weber, Project Manager of F.E. Moran
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

Optima Chicago Center is a 42-story residential building with office and commercial space on three floors at the base of the building. It is located at 200 E. Illinois in Chicago, IL's Streeterville neighborhood. In 2013, they began renting their commercial and residential space, but in 2011, Optima was in its infancy when they called F.E. Moran to bring their extensive engineering resources to be a part of the design team. A Condenser Water System with Hot Water Injection was engineered to feed the Vertical Stack Heat Pumps and Air Handlers that heat and cool the building. A Dehumidification System was also designed to serve an indoor pool on the level 10 Recreational Floor.

Architect David Hovey said, "The building has an impressive beauty derived from its simplicity, in contrast to the complex facades surrounding it. The exterior building aesthetics evolve from an expression of the functional spaces within - transparent glass at the street level, black translucent glass at the parking level and energy efficient silver metallic glass on the residential floors. Recessed outdoor space at the recreational floor 10 and residence club floor 32 create deep shadows that are important keys to making it all work visually."

The building was rented in stages, starting from the bottom of the building, presenting a challenge for F.E. Moran. With the HVAC system's equipment being installed at the roof mechanical levels, heating and cooling needed to be delivered to the base of the building without the build-out being completed on the intermediate levels. F.E. Moran implemented a pre-fabrication strategy on the penthouse piping to shorten the turnover time and also installed riser piping ahead of the equipment they served on those intermediate levels to connect to the active equipment.

To learn more about the Optima residential and commercial property or to find more information on leasing a unit, click here.

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Profile: Lutheran General Hospital

Lutheran General Hospital

Contributor:  Dan Dobbins, Project Manager Director of F.E. Moran
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

When Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL replaced their air handling unit, F.E. Moran had the unique challenge of installing a system into a working hospital. Through an Integrated Project Delivery process, F.E. Moran was able to work closely with all contractors, engineers, and hospital employees to determine the best method of installation and complete the project without interrupting business.

Because Lutheran General Hospital was in use during the installation of the air handling unit, certain trials arose. First, the original air handler needed to be demolished in order to be removed; however, because the hospital had patients, it was necessary to install a temporary air handler. Originally, the consultant engineers had planned for the temporary air handler to be installed on the roof, but after F.E. Moran became involved in the Integrated Project Delivery process, they worked with the team to determine that a roof installation would cost too much for the client. Instead, they opted to install a temporary air handler in the basement, near where the new air handler would be built, reducing the overall investment for Lutheran General Hospital.

air handling unit

Another obstacle that needed to be conquered was getting the air handling unit into the basement. The unit was too large to be taken into the basement whole; it needed to be taken into the basement piece by piece and put back together. A technician that worked for the manufacturer came in to oversee the re-build of the air handling unit to ensure accuracy.

The last hurdle F.E. Moran and the rest of the Integrated Project Delivery team needed to overcome was the necessary shutdowns of the air handling unit during installation. To make tie-ins, the water needed to be temporarily shut down to make the changes. In order to complete the shut downs, F.E. Moran chose to complete them at night with proper man power. The large number of workers in conjunction with the overnight shut downs, enabled F.E. Moran to reduce the impact on the hospital and patients.

F.E. Moran successfully completed this project in 4 months, providing Advocate Lutheran General Hospital with an efficient air handling unit with no interruption in service.

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Profile: Loyola University Goes Green HVAC

Loyola University HVAC

Contributor:  John Hewitt, Project Executive of F.E. Moran
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

Loyola University set out to build a green living environment for students. They succeeded with Wright Hall, San Francisco Hall, and the Winter Garden Tower. The Winter Garden features an atrium with a Tilapia pond and gardens where they grow their food. The resident halls are Gold LEED Certified, and feature a greenhouse, clean energy laboratory, and green café. Students will research appropriate heirloom seeds, establish gardening management principles, and determine companion plants for the greenhouse. In the energy laboratory, students use their refuse to create biofuel to partially fuel their HVAC system.

To make this site green, F.E. Moran furnished the entire HVAC system within San Francisco Hall and retrofitted the system in Wright Hall with energy efficient systems. They used a geothermal heat pump system that takes the heating from the ground to heat the building in the winter. The geothermal portion of the system consisted of over 200 geothermal wells with 150 feet depths, which Loyola University highlighted by encasing it in glass. Eventually, the ground becomes too cold and heat needs to be added. For this, they added a dual fuel boiler, using natural gas and biofuel. The biofuel was supplied by the students within the clean energy laboratory. Eventually, Loyola University envisions all of their heat to be self-sustained through biofuel.

To keep the Winter Garden at the appropriate temperature to grow food and raise Tilapia, F.E. Moran installed under-floor heating.

Heat and air conditioning is provided by a heat pump using chilled beams and an energy recovery system. Chilled beams work much like a radiator, passing hot or cool water through the beam. An energy recovery system adds a coil into the exhaust. It takes the heat out of the air and returns it to the building.

With the joint efforts of F.E. Moran and Loyola University, students at this Rogers Park campus now have the opportunity for hands-on learning of energy efficient practices while living a self-sustaining lifestyle.

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The Correlation Between HVAC and Grades

how HVAC effects grades

Contributor:  Charlotte Flesher, Vice President of F.E. Moran
Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

A Federal Report found that 50% of U.S. schools have problems linked to poor indoor air quality. This could be the reason that 10% of U.S. children have asthma and that children's allergies have increased 69% since the 1990s (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/02/food-skin-allergies-increasing-in-children/). Studies have shown that Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has a direct correlation with respiratory health and allergies. The pollutants, humidity, and temperature control that adversely affect students in health, comfort, and ability to perform can be an issue of the past with proper HVAC maintenance.

Upward Trend in Children's Allergies

The growth of allergies and asthma in school-aged children has been astounding over the past decade. In a national survey of school nurses, 40% knew children and staff adversely affected by indoor air pollutants within the school. Take, for example, Joellen Lawson, a Special Education teacher in Connecticut. During her tenure as a teacher, she developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, leaving her with only 50% of her lung capacity. It was found that the cause of her ailment was the school building. It was so plagued with mold and other pollutants that it needed to be torn down and re-constructed (http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/14/health/school-indoor-air-pollution).

The increase in allergies and asthma has a profoundly negative impact on education. At this time, 1 in 10 children have asthma, and, on average, it results in missing 4 days of school each year. Asthma and allergy medications also impact the students' concentration. When they are taking antihistamines, nasal sprays, and asthma medications, the medicines make it more difficult to concentrate, resulting in poor educational retention. When a teacher is the victim of the pollutants, it still affects the student's education. By having a substitute teacher when the teacher is ill, the child's educational process is disrupted.

Increase in HVAC Maintenance Decreases Allergies

By updating the HVAC system and continuously maintaining the system, students and teachers will suffer less from allergies. With school budget cuts, oftentimes, rather than cutting staff, faculty, or educational resources, the maintenance budget is cut. However, by cutting the maintenance budget, schools are cutting their educational resources because students and teachers are absent more often and retain less. Less retention results in lower test scores, and consequently, reduces funding for the school. When a school district in Texas implemented an IAQ management plan to better the air quality, the school found that test scores increased 17.3% and brought daily average attendance to 97%.

A proper IAQ management plan is essential for all school districts. Controlled studies found that children performed school work better and with greater speed as ventilation increased; another study found that classrooms with higher outdoor air ventilation rates achieved higher scores on standardized tests in math and reading than students that were in poorly ventilated rooms.

In addition to ventilation, proper air conditioning and heating helped students with health and concentration issues. Cooler temperatures from a working air conditioning system resulted in a reduction in health issue symptoms and it increased concentration and grades.

With the right heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, schools will see an increase in attendance from both students and teachers; improved grades; and possibly even cost savings. Healthier teachers will result in reduced costs in health care; improved test results have the possibility of bringing an increase in funding. For the most effective HVAC solution, contact a service provider that can upgrade or install a new HVAC system and maintain the school's current system to guarantee the benefits of clean, temperature-controlled air continue to garner positive educational results year after year.

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The Pros and Cons of Green Plumbing

green plumbing

Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

The average household uses about 250 gallons of water per day. That is over 80 times more water than the flooding rain that wreaked havoc across Chicago and the North Shore in April. With some "green" plumbing initiatives, families have the potential to save gallons of water a day, but are these "green" plumbing methods always what they seem? We sat down with Mr. John Nelson, Director of F.E. Moran Plumbing, for some expert insight into "green" plumbing.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are growing in popularity. With the need to conserve water growing in our society, the efficiency of these water heaters makes them a green choice for homes.

Pros

Tankless water heaters are very efficient in all contexts of the word. They take up the space of a large computer, as opposed to the standard water heater, which is over double the size.

Tankless water heaters only heat the water you need, when you need it, so it is not constantly working. Standard water heaters are working 24/7 to keep the 40-60 gallons of water it holds at 120-140 degrees, ready for when the water is needed.

Cons

The initial installation for a tankless water heater is more expensive than a standard. The tankless water heater costs $700-$1000, plus the additional cost of installation and updating the venting, gas pipes, and electricity to work with this type of water heater. Although, there are monthly cost savings of approximately $10-$30 a month, it generally takes 8-9 years to pay itself off in efficiency. The tankless water heater itself has a 10-15 year life, so if the motivation for choosing a tankless water heater is cost savings, the payoff may not be there.

The efficiency that makes tankless water heaters so appealing is also its downfall. Because tankless water heaters produce hot water as needed, if hot water is used in excess, there will be hot and cold temperature surges. Along the same vein, if a home has a whirlpool tub and a tankless water heater, an additional tankless water heater will need to be installed to have a large enough capacity to heat beyond the whirlpool tub, doubling the cost.

About 12 manufacturers design tankless water heaters, each with their own nuances. Because of this, they are difficult to service. If a part is needed, it may be difficult to find the correct manufacturer. Standard water heaters only have 3 manufacturers with a relatively standard design, making it easier to find replacement parts.

Low Flow Toilets

Many North Shore homes were built far before low flow toilets popularized in 1994. If your toilet hasn't been replaced in recent years, most likely the toilet uses approximately 3.5 gallons per flush. Replacing the old toilet with a low flow toilet can save up to 3 gallons per flush.

Pros

Low flow toilets are easy to find. Even if you are just upgrading to a newer toilet that is not advertised as efficient, it is still more efficient than older toilets. The new standard toilet uses about 1.28 gallons per flush. If you choose to get a dual flush toilet, it uses .5 gallons of water for liquids and 1.5 gallons for solids per flush.

Cons

Because newer toilets use less water, they may not have as thorough of a washdown of the bowl. Low flow toilets also tend to be louder than standard toilets.

Shower Heads and Faucet Aerators

Replacing shower heads and faucet aerators can be an inexpensive way to lower water bills. For an investment of less than $20, water bills may be lowered by 25-60%, according to the US Department of Energy.

Pros

Older shower heads that are typically installed in homes use 3.5-5 gallons of water a minute. New shower heads use 1.6 gallons of water per minute. They use a tight spray, like a mist, ensuring water pressure is not lost. If, on an average day, you take a fifteen minute shower, the shower head that is most likely in your home currently will use up to 75 gallons of water. With a low-flow, modern shower head that same shower will only use 22.5 gallons of water.

Standard kitchen and bathroom faucets use 4-7 gallons of water per minute. If you add an aerator to the bathroom faucet, you will save 1-1.5 gallons per minute, and in the kitchen, 2.2-2.5 gallons per minute. To test your faucet aerator for efficiency, time how long it takes to fill a 1 gallon milk jug. If it takes less than 20 seconds, you should add an aerator for some serious water savings. Adding low-flow aerators to faucets can save 1,100-1,500 gallons of water a month.

Cons

The low flow shower heads may eventually succumb to pressure problems due to calcium or rust buildup. However, there is a simple fix. Place a bag of CLR around the showerhead and rubber band. Leave it overnight. The next day, any calcium or rust within the head should be gone. If the problem persists, the calcium or rust buildup is behind the shower head. Homeowners can take the showerhead off and clean inside.

Going "green" with your plumbing is something that every homeowner will need to weigh the pros and cons before making a choice. If you need help making the decision, call the experts at F.E. Moran Plumbing.

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The Benefits of Energy Efficient HVAC

energy efficient HVAC

Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

HVAC systems consume 13% of all primary energy generated around the world with commercial buildings being the worst offenders using 30% of all energy produced. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it also adds up to large utility bills that in turn are passed on to consumers. With some key changes to mechanical systems: right-sizing HVAC systems, adding building automation systems, upgrading to more efficient equipment, or even making small changes like adding insulation or having the boiler tuned-up, can make a difference in monthly utility costs.

Green Building and Energy Efficient Options

Building commissioning, re-commissioning, and retro-commissioning will provide a more efficient,environmentally friendly, and cost effective building. Commissioning an HVAC system ensures that it is working as designed and as efficiently as possible. Re-commissioning is commissioning a building that already has an existing system that has been commissioned previously. Retro-commissioning is commissioning a building that had never been commissioned. By testing, analyzing, and adjusting facility HVAC systems, property owners and managers can ensure that they work optimally. The cost of commissioning an HVAC system is quickly recouped through utility bill savings. By commissioning, the average operating cost will be 8-20% below a non-commissioned building.

Another option to make your HVAC system more efficient is Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing - TAB testing. This process should be performed by a National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) certified company. This test will ensure the air and water systems are pure and determine that the HVAC system has the proper pressure and no leaks. TAB testing not only assures that there are no contaminants in the air that could cause illness to employees, but it also guarantees that the system is working optimally.

Green HVAC Productivity and Health Benefits

Indoor air contamination levels can be 25 times higher than outdoor air levels. In fact, indoor air quality is ranked within the top 5 environmental risks to public health according to the United States EPA. By eliminating or reducing inadequate ventilation; biological contaminants, bacteria, molds, pollen, and viruses; and inadequate temperature, humidity, and lighting, building owners can save money due to lost production and health care expenses.

Buildings can succumb to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), where employees experience decreased health and comfort linked to the time they spend in the building, or Building Related Illness (BRI), in which employees have symptoms of a diagnosable illness directly related to building contaminants. 1.34 million United States' buildings experience SBS, affecting 20 million workers and costing businesses $6 billion in California alone.

A study showed that employees working in a healthy building saw $400-$500,000 gains in productivity annually. By regularly maintaining and cleaning ventilation ducts, providing day lighting, and having natural ventilation available, studies have shown that employees will be more productive and have less health issues.

Monetary Benefits of Efficient HVAC Systems

Property owners can make buildings more energy efficient through many changes, both small and large. From adding extra insulation or changing to a more efficient light bulb to installing efficient mechanical equipment or new windows - property owners will see savings.

The first monetary benefit of efficient mechanical systems comes during the design phase. Efficient HVAC systems are smaller, and, therefore, use less material.

Once the efficient mechanical system is installed, the next cost savings will come in the form of utility rebates. Nicor gas provides rebates for high-efficiency equipment, products, and services. For space heating equipment, they provide a $200-$7,500 rebate; efficient water heating equipment results in $150-$200 rebates; and steam traps, boiler tune-ups, and PPE insulation reaps $50-$2,000+ in rebates. ComEd provides rebates and incentives for upgrades on existing systems: variable speed drives installed on existing chillers, HVAC fans, packaged units, pumps, and air compressor units. For new systems, they provide incentives to off-set the cost of the initial installation of energy efficient water and air-cooled chillers.

The monetary benefits will continue when utility bills begin to arrive. Property owners will notice a significant decrease in their monthly utility costs with high-efficient systems.

Regular HVAC system maintenance will provide a plethora of benefits from healthier employees, resulting in less cost in healthcare and lost productivity, to utility rebates and an environmentally conscious workplace. The costs of HVAC system maintenance, repair, and upgrades will be recouped easily through the plentiful benefits available through energy efficient programs and improved health.

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9 Ways Building Automation Can Make Your Business Run Better

9 Ways Building Automation Can Make Your Business Run Better

The benefits of automation are inarguable.  Almost anything can be automated.  Emails can be sent, social media can be scheduled, security systems can be set, heating can be adjusted, lights can be turned on – all with the tap of a finger on your mobile device.  The simplicity and ability to increase your productivity is already a major benefit, but property automation takes the benefits to a whole new level.  With the ability to save on utility bills, control your property from anywhere, and intelligently adjust building components implementing building automation is a no-brainer.  Here are our top nine benefits of automating property system management.

Why Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC Systems are the Hot Topic of High-rise Buildings

variable refrigerant flow HVAC

In 2002, a 15-story high-rise in Maryland began its decent into decay. It sat vacant for ten years after being declared a sick building. In 2012, Caves Valley Partners bought the building and brought it back to life. The company made it a state of the art Class A building. The Maryland building was renewed with a glass curtain wall façade, a new electrical system, and - most importantly - a brand new Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC system. The VRF system not only made the air quality healthy again, but earned it LEED points toward a silver certification. The building is now occupied by Towson University and MileOne Automotive.

A proper HVAC system is an integral part of a high-rise building. High-rises need to meet multiple tenant's comfort needs, while being quiet, providing healthy air, and being low maintenance. With the varied needs of high-rise occupants, VRF systems are the future of high-rise HVAC.

High-rises deal with a host of HVAC difficulties. With multiple tenants and different needs, a lack of proper maintenance or an inefficiently designed system could result in poor indoor air quality (IAQ), noise, inconsistent airflow, loss of efficiency, and high costs. 

These issues can cause sick building syndrome. Sick building syndrome is a condition that affects office workers, giving them headaches and respiratory problems due to poor ventilation and air quality. In 1984, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that up to 30% of high rises and other office buildings are causing their occupants to get sick due to poor IAQ. Sick building syndrome is a result of flawed Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system design. Common HVAC issues associated with this illness are mold, improper exhaust ventilation, or lack of adequate fresh-air intake/air filtration.

The wrong-sized ducts are the plight of many HVAC-related issues. Noise can be caused by the wrong sized ducts - which can also cause an increase in cost and space. If ducts are too small, the system will make noise and rattle because of airflow restriction. If the ducts are too big, low airflow will cause uneven heating. With improperly sized ductwork, efficiency can be lost by up to 60%. This will cause an increase in utility costs, a struggle to reach the set temperature, and the need for more repairs on motors, fan belts, and compressors. The wrong sized ducts can put so much strain on the HVAC system that it will likely need to be replaced earlier than its estimated life. 

HVAC systems account for 40-60% of utility costs in a commercial facility. These costs can be greatly reduced with smart HVAC technology.

High-rises need an HVAC system that can anticipate and minimize operating and maintenance costs, allow personalized control, maximum flexibility to accommodate changing tenants, and reliability. A solution that meets these needs is a Variable Refrigerant Flow HVAC system.

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology solves many of the issues high-rise buildings suffer from due to multiple tenant needs, mechanical space needs, and overworked equipment. VRFs are mostly ductless, saving space, and use a condenser unit that works with multiple users. It eliminates the need for water piping, requiring only refrigerant piping. The result is lower utility costs, less space used, and better individual temperature control.

VRFs work like a more efficient ductless multi-split system. There are multiple indoor evaporator units connected to one outdoor condensing unit. They work only as needed, providing a significant energy savings from partial load conditions. Over the lifetime of the system, VRFs are predicted to provide almost 50% energy savings over the average HVAC equipment.


The simple design provides many benefits: energy efficiency, the inverter-driven compressor technology simultaneously heats and cools without duct loss; zoned comfort, each zone has personalized comfort, providing the right amount of refrigerant when needed for each space; quiet operation, indoor and outdoor units are quiet and can be used anywhere; easy maintenance, VRFs generally only need filters changed and coils cleaned; lower lifecycle cost, they operate with minimum energy usage and you can service zone by zone rather than the entire system; and safety, VRFs have less airborn allergens because they do not re-circulate air. 

VRFs are easier to install than traditional HVAC systems because they are modular, lightweight, and smaller, making them ideal for both new construction and retrofit. In addition, the piping is smaller, allowing the system to fit into standard size walls and giving the owner more usable space.

In Chicago, a study by the Georgia Institute of Technology (2013) shows that office buildings can expect to save 46.5% in energy bills with a VRF system. The same study found that in Chicago, the total life-cycle cost of a VRF system in an office is $2,255,772 while the average HVAC system will cost $2,329,981 over the life cycle. While the cost to install a VRF may be more up front, it saves building owners 3.2% over its lifetime with lower maintenance and utility bills. It would take only 10 years of annual utility savings and reduced maintenance needs to make up the cost of the initial installation. 

As green technology and energy efficient building systems grow in popularity, high-rises will be at the forefront of this technology. With their multitude of needs and high cost of utilities, high-rise buildings get the opportunity to truly reap the benefits of newly emerging eco-technology. VRF systems have only been in the United States for about ten years, but high-rises that are at the forefront of building technology are already adapting this new technology and seeing the long term benefits first hand.

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Three Earth-friendly HVAC Solutions to Save Universities Big Money

Three Earth-friendly HVAC Solutions to Save Universities Big Money

When Loyola University set out to create a green living environment for their students, they came to F.E. Moran to design and install a geothermal heat pump HVAC system for the San Francisco Hall, Wright Hall, and Winter Garden tower buildings.  Loyola University isn’t the only urban college clamoring for green HVAC.