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

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

How does a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system help high-rise buildings with their main HVAC issues? Learn about sick buildings, VRF solutions, and healthy IAQ.

Heating + Water Issues Closing Older Elementary Schools During Cold Weather

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Baltimore, MD -- Four schools in Baltimore, MD were closed because of heating or water issues so far this year.

The city school spokesperson, Edie House-Foster said, "Over the winter break, facilities staff monitored schools to check on heating systems, plumbing, and electricity.  Numerous problems were identified and resolved.  Unfortunately, with the extreme temperatures, new problems can emerge quickly." 

Parents, students, and teachers have been posting about the terrible conditions.  Classroom thermometers are showing 30 degree rooms.  Some classes are taking place in the cafeteria because it is too cold in the classrooms.

The Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen declared a "code blue," which states that the the temperatures are dangerously low.

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"We have many schools with leaky windows and outdated heating systems that have a hard time keeping up.  With extreme temperatures, we have the added challenge of freezing pipes and water main breaks," said Wen.

According to healthyschools.org, temperature has a significant impact on student learning.  According to a study completed by the organization, the ideal classroom temperature is 72 degrees.  When a school is too hot, it reduces test scores by 22%.  When it is too cold, it reduces test scores by 17%.

Students are also negatively impacted by allergies.  When schools properly maintain the HVAC, they have found that test scores increase 17.3%.  Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) impacts allergies.  By having a strong IAQ management plan, allergy symptoms will be reduced and improve attention spans.

What is the difference between tenant improvement and leasehold improvements?

What is the difference between tenant improvement and leasehold improvements?

Navigating tenant improvements can be tricky.  The Balance provides a tips and tricks overview for new business owners.  F.E. Moran provides HVAC and F.E. Moran Fire Protection provides fire protection for tenant improvement projects in Chicago.

HVAC and Flu + Cold Season - What You Should Know

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February is the peak of cold and flu season.  If your office is anything like ours, everyone has gotten a bug at some point this season.  In fact, it is the worst cold and flu season in almost a decade.  It is on pace to reach the death toll of 2014-2015's cold and flu season.  During that period, 56,000 Americans died of the flu.

Did you know HVAC can have an effect on colds and flu?

It's true!

Your HVAC filters air throughout the property.  By making smart HVAC decisions, you can reduce the likelihood of cold or flu viruses spreading.

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1.  Change your air filter

HVAC filters should be changed monthly with high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filters.  These filters can reduce tiny particles in the air that can spread colds and flu.


2.  Moisture in the air

Studies have found that the reason that flu season is in the winter is because of the lack of humidity.  Humidity affects how long the flu virus is stable.  It is believed that the water vapor deforms the virus.  

Add a whole house humidifier to your property, if you don't already have one.  In addition to deforming the flu virus, humidifiers reduce the symptoms of colds like sore throats, post nasal drip, congestion, and scratchy throat.

3.  Keep temperatures warm

Button you coat; you'll catch a cold!  While that is not true, what is true is that warm air holds more moisture than cold air.  As you saw in the previous section, moisture help prevent the flu and reduce symptoms of a cold.   Additionally, bodily natural defenses are less active in the cold.  The silica hairs in your nose, which trap germs, become less effective in cold temperatures.

4.  UV Lights

Did you know that UV lights used in HVAC systems have proven to reduce fungal growth?  It's true.  An NCBI study installed UV lights on certain floors of an office building and, as a control group, not on others.  The UV light floors had reduced fungal contamination in the air-handling units, in the fiberglass insulation, and reduced airborne fungi in the floor space.  

This year, Americans have already lost their lives to the flu.  To keep your home, apartment building, or office healthy - try these four tips for reducing flu and cold viruses with smart HVAC decisions.




A Guide to Making Your Office More Energy Efficient

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Small businesses encounter a plethora of costs when they start up. From rental space expenses to salaries and benefits, all of these add up and have a significant impact on a business’ budget. The cost of energy also plays a big part in running a business and ensuring operational efficiency.

Water, gas and electricity can be pricey, especially if your employees work extra hours. This guide contains important recommendations for those who want to make an office more energy efficient. These pointers will not only ease the pressure on your budget but will also contribute to protecting the environment and using fewer resources than needed.

1. Install a Programmable Thermostat

The easiest way to cut costs and make your office more energy efficient is to install a programmable thermostat. Heating and cooling are two of the biggest energy users in any work space. A programmable thermostat enables you to heat or cool certain spaces only during working hours by setting comfortable temperatures. Thermostats are easy to use by anyone in the office and the settings can be adjusted manually for special circumstances such as working overtime and staying late.

Related:  How to Make Your HVAC More Efficient

You will notice a significant change in your energy bill when you start using this type of thermostat. Other advantages of installing the device are being able to maintain a consistent temperature, spending less time constantly adjusting the settings, utilizing resources more effectively, putting less wear and tear on your heating and cooling systems and keeping the office’s HVAC system optimized to the latest standards.


2. Replace Desktop Computers with Laptops

If your employees don’t need desktop computers, you shouldn’t hesitate to upgrade the old PCs to newer, more cost efficient laptops. A desktop computer uses between 60 – 250 watts even when it is running a screen saver. And if your employees use additional monitors, the energy usage is even higher. A 17 inch or 19 inch LCD monitor uses anywhere between 19 – 40 watts while a 20 inch or 24 inch LCD monitor uses between 17 – 72 watts. By comparison, a laptop only uses 15 – 45 watts, considerably less than a desktop and a monitor.

Desktop computers are not only inefficient from an energy point of view, they are also bulkier and more restraining than a laptop. Desktops emit a lot of heat and during summer months this might make employees turn the AC on lower temperature settings, thus using even more electricity. Additionally, employees are more satisfied with a laptop than a computer. It allows them to work in different places around the office and even to work remotely when they need to.

Related:  Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC Gaining Ground in the Global Market

3. Upgrade the Lighting

Traditional incandescent bulbs consume between 20 – 80% more energy than energy efficient bulbs. Light emitting diodes (LEDs), compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and halogen incandescents all fall under the energy efficient light bulbs umbrella. Depending on the size of your office, energy efficient fixtures can save you a few hundred dollars in energy costs yearly and don’t need to be changed as often as traditional incandescent bulbs.

New energy efficient bulbs come in a plethora of light levels and colors so you’ll be able to take your pick and find what you need for your office environment. These types of bulbs are more expensive than the obsolete incandescents, however, the cost is justified in the long run.

4. Switch Off Unused Equipment or Use the Hibernation Feature

The vast majority of office electronics feature a hibernate or sleep setting. Monitors, laptops, desktops, and printers automatically switch themselves to a low power mode but you should check and make sure this setting is enabled. Each employee can also manually put their laptop or computer into hibernation mode, which enables them to save the existing work and continue wherever they left off the next day. Activating the sleep setting can save roughly $50 per computer yearly.  

Along the same vein, equipment that is not in use should be switched off completely. This includes scanners, microwaves, coffee makers, toasters, lights, vending machines and air conditioners. Switching these electronics off helps decrease the energy bill and conserves energy. This should be a standard procedure over the weekend and, more importantly, during holidays.

5. Invest in Energy Efficient Devices

Energy efficient devices are pricier than traditional ones but they also come with a rapid payback. Energy Star certified equipment uses less energy and is more efficient. For instance, a smaller, new refrigerator consumes less and will significantly reduce the energy bills. Keep in mind that a small office doesn’t need a big refrigerator and can definitely do without a freezer. A small fridge will not only occupy less space in the office kitchen but will also be more energy efficient.

If your office is located in an old building and it came with outdated equipment, it’s high time you changed it. Old systems such as air conditioners and heaters are most likely drawing unnecessary power and failing to work at maximum efficiency. In other words, outdated equipment is making you bleed money. Replacing these with Energy Star, newer versions will reduce the electricity bill and the maintenance costs.

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6. Allow Your Employees to Work from Home

Thanks to new technologies, most businesses can give employees the option to work remotely at least once a week. Using a VPN, employees can still safely access the work network, keep in touch with their colleagues and stay up to speed with the latest developments. Virtual meetings are not an issue either with tools such as Skype and WebEx helping employees to connect with each other or with clients regardless of their current location.

Allowing employees to work remotely one day per week helps businesses reduce the electricity costs since less lighting, cooling, heating and power is required. This method is not only energy efficient and environmentally friendly but it has also been proven to improve employee morale and help individuals stay motivated. 

7. Think About Installing Solar Panels

Solar power is considered the future for a good reason. Solar panels create pure, clean energy from the sun. Using these to fuel the equipment and electronics in your office will drastically bring down your electricity costs. There’s no denying that solar energy does not come cheap. This renewable source of energy is pricey, however, statistics show that the expenses can be recovered within just a few years as long as the solar panels are used almost exclusively.

Installing solar panels will initially put a strain on your budget but you will only reap the benefits in the long run. What is more, you will be bringing your personal contribution to decreasing the world’s dependence on fossil fuel and combating greenhouse gas emissions.

Author Bio

John Stuart works on behalf of sovpsl.com in outreach and content creation. He creates engaging content that help businesses connect with their audience and stand out from the crowd.

ENR Midwest Project of the Year: 150 N. Riverside

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F.E. Moran and F.E. Moran Fire Protection are excited to announce that their project 150 N. Riverside was chosen as ENR Midwest's Project of the Year:  Office/Retail/Mixed-use.

Developers and architects deemed the property at the corner of the Chicago River "unbuildable."  However, Goettsch Partners and Riverside Investment and Development found a way to make it work beautifully and transform the landscape of the Chicago skyline and riverwalk. 

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Here is an excerpt from ENR Midwest.

For decades, the less-than-two-acre sliver of land that would eventually become the home of 150 North Riverside sat vacant and unwanted, deemed unbuildable by developers and architects alike.

Despite a desirable Chicago loop location with easy access for commuting workers, the site offered a scant 47 ft of space to build a tower due to seven active Amtrak rail lines on the west and the city’s requirement for a riverwalk to the east.

“The idea of transferring perimeter columns into a core (via steel structural members) was the solution from Jim Goettsch’s first sketch,” says Joachim Schuessler, a principal at architect Goettsch Partners. “We knew we couldn’t land the main structure of the tower within the train tracks or too close to the river. We asked Ron Klemencic [chairman and CEO at Magnusson Klemencic Associates] if we could make that work, and he said, yes, we could and he came up with the necessary tools to do that.”

Read the full article in ENR Midwest.


Season is Changing - What do you need to do for your HVAC?

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The season is changing.  At my house, on any given day, I could go from feeling my heat kick on in the morning and find my air conditioning on when I get home from work.  Both systems are getting to work, and both systems need to be maintained.  Your air conditioning just had a hard summer of work and your furnace is just about to start up its hard season.

So, what should you do? 

1.  Change your filters.

Air filters filter out airborne particles from entering the system and clogging it.  Dirty filters cause the furnace to run less efficiently.  There is a pressure drop, which leads to low air flow.  The system needs to work harder to function.  Any system that needs to work harder than necessary will burn out quicker.  Changing filters will keep the system working efficiently.


2.  Test for Carbon Monoxide

When you are doing your winter preparation maintenance, you should complete a carbon dioxide test.  Anything above 15pmm is dangerous.  However, many CO detectors don't even register that low.  Carbon Dioxide can cause SIDS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ADD, loss of hearing, loss of sight, loss of speech, kidney disease, respiratory disease, heart disease, and other illnesses just from a small amount of carbon dioxide.  15pmm is the first level that can cause illness in people, and 30pmm effects most people.

3.  Clean Blower

A dirty blower can reduce the blower assembly air flow rate and increases heating and cooling costs.  It can also cause operating failures.  Inspectapedia measured that the difference in air flow and found a 50% or higher improvement in air flow in the blower unit when dirt is cleaned from the blower fan assembly.  It doesn't take much dust or debris to fill the curves of the fan blades.

4.  Check Gas Pressure

Improper gas pressure that is too high can cause the unit to overheat.  Gas pressure that is too low can cause lockouts on the flame sensor.  On the inlet side, too much gas pressure can cause gas valve failures.  Too little inlet pressure can cause sooting in the heat exchanger.

5. Clean and Balance Fan

If your filter is dirty or not installed, it can reduce your airflow.  With a reduced airflow, energy efficiency is reduced and cost goes up.


6.  Check Bearings

A furnace blower motor has bearings that will eventually wear down.  Each fall, you should have your bearings checked to see if they need replaced.

7. Duct Cleaning

The EPA recommends cleaning ducts if there is mold or excessive dust/debris in the system.  However, unless your ducts are clogged, had mold, or vermin, they do not need to be cleaned routinely.  

8. Clean coil in Air Conditioning

The AC coil should be cleaned at least once every six months.  A good rule of thumb is to to do in the spring, in preparation for the summer heat and fall, in preparation for the AC shut down for winter.

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It’s our pleasure to assist the Will County Sheriff’s Office

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Ray Carpenter

Project Manager with F.E. Moran


When the county employees enter the new Will County Sheriff’s Facility in late November of this year it is sure that many of them will appreciate the nice ambiance of the buildings. New fixtures, computers, flooring and so forth but I wonder how many of these good people will give a thought to what went into the creation of such a facility; the concept, the planning, the architecture and from our standpoint at FE Moran, the mechanicals.

Each step in producing the finished building is critical. It involves much cooperation between contractors, suppliers, foreman, project managers and installers.

Mark Tetrick the project manager for FE Moran has the responsibility of coordinating the sheet metal and piping for the project as FE Moran was the lead contractor for the piping, sheet metal and building controls.

Although this project is certainly not the largest one FE Moran has tackled, there is still an enormous amount of materials and equipment required to complete such a building. 

Some of us employees get into the grind and don't think about the bigger picture.  When we reflect, we realize what this facility means to the people who live and work in this county.  Here is a nice facility that makes it possible for many people to be employed, being able to raise their families, pay their bills, and pay their taxes, which, in turn, educates the county's children and allows others to be employed.

There is a state of the art 911 center.  It helps anyone and everyone in the county who may need emergency assistance, saving lives.  What could be more crucial?

And of course all of us at FE Moran can appreciate their involvement with such a building reaping many of these same benefits as above.

In addition creating new relationships with vendors, contractors, equipment and control suppliers which gives us future references for new projects we may encounter.

So maybe next time we get caught up in the day-to-day struggles we face just pause for a moment and realize we are fulfilling a great need for a great many people. Contributing to our communities and to each other just by completing one project at a time.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this new Will County Sheriff’s Facility!

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Why Maintenance Agreements are Your Best Bet in HVAC

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Have you ever been in your office and all of a sudden need a fan?  

Or, it's the complete opposite.  It's ninety degrees outside, but you're wearing a sweater and have a space heater hidden under your desk.

You can avoid that.

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Proactive Maintenance Agreements

By having a proactive maintenance agreement, commercial building, residential high-rises, offices, and data centers reduce or eliminate HVAC downtime.  Not only that, you keep your system maintained, extending its lifetime and reducing energy costs.

What are the top benefits that maintenance agreement customers see?

1.  Reduced Equipment Failures

F.E. Moran Mechanical Services' customers have seen reduced equipment failures, downtime, and lost production.

2.  Lowered utility Bills

Energy bills are usually less once the building begins having regular maintenance.  Your system is running more efficiently and will be less likely to break down.

3.  Less Cost on Training

There is no need to train your internal maintenance manager or buy expensive tools to work with your HVAC system.  Rather than spending money on training and tools, you invest in a company that has been working on HVAC systems for thirty years.


F.E. Moran Mechanical Services has a full service, comprehensive maintenance agreement that includes repairs and preventative maintenance all at a fixed cost.  Businesses can easily budget their yearly HVAC needs with this simple solution.

Learn more about the proactive maintenance agreement here.

$50 Million Building Permit Approved for Wrigley Field Hotel, F.E. Moran Joins Project

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Chicago, IL – The Ricketts family has gotten the building permit for Hotel Zachery, a Wrigley Field adjacent hotel.

It is scheduled to open in 2018.

The hotel will be six-stories with 179 guest rooms and 74 parking spots.  The ground floor will be for commercial use.

Walsh Construction is the general contractor.  F.E. Moran is the HVAC contractor.  See the partial-list of contractors at Chicago Construction News.

Hickory Street Capital is the project’s owner.  This is a real estate development company that is owned by the Ricketts Family.

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5 HVAC Innovations That Are Starting New Trends

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

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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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