Assessing the Modern Built Environment

Not sure if your system is in need of an upgrade? Even with proper maintenance, HVAC systems lose efficiency over time. Repair and occasionally replacement are a necessity in HVAC systems. Technology often renders old systems obsolete or creates more efficient solutions that can offer cost savings. DVPE offers a comprehensive analysis and evaluation system for existing systems. DVPE utilizes multiple criteria in its evaluation and in making recommendations for upgrades. These criteria are coupled with qualitative evaluations of system performance to ensure that the best possible return on a comprehensive system upgrade investment is realized.

First, DVPE evaluates the theoretical viability of an installed system. This is an on-paper review of system capacities and design. Building ventilation and temperature control zone assessments are also typical. Also, design lighting levels and other electrical systems are assessed based on available drawings.

In conjunction with these quantitative (and sometimes code-required) examinations, DVPE evaluates the qualitative, real world performance of the system(s) in question. This evaluation includes consideration of occupant satisfaction with the indoor environmental quality. Lighting intensity and carbon dioxide readings are also taken to ascertain how the designed system performs against expectations. When codes and standards dictate that a facility be upgraded, these requirements become paramount.

DVPE also evaluates the age and reliability of a system and its components compared to known life expectancies and rates of failure as established by accepted industry standards. Where age and signs of wear are prevalent, component replacement and/or upgrade may be suggested. Upgrades or equipment additions also improve the dependability and redundancy of systems not meeting the owner’s need for reliable, low-maintenance day-to-day operation.

Finally, system operating costs are measured using one or more assessment methods. For example, annual energy expenditures may be compared to typical costs for similar facilities using the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rating system. Often, it is also necessary to incorporate owner’s stated goals for improvement.

Where sufficient data is not available, some CBECS or NREL metrics are estimated to enable the comparisons desired and are reported within the framework of the DVPE comprehensive approach, rather than as outlined in other documents. An example is that Energy Star® does not include a specific “Library” category. The end result and goal is a system that enables the evaluator to answer “YES” to all six of the questions posed in this assessment method. The blank evaluation “decision tree” is shown here.

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