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

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One of our most popular articles, “Why Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC Systems are the Hot Topic of High-rise Buildings" has been updated. Learn how VRF systems make buildings healthier and more efficient.


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.

Sick Building Syndrome

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.

Read the full article: Why Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC Systems are the Hot Topic of High-rise Buildings.