James Chaplen looks at the advantages of using new modular, inverter-driven chillers to replace big, bulky systems

Building designers, managers and owners are playing an increasingly important role in the UK’s bid to tackle the climate emergency.

A range of UK legislation is currently being updated, including standards and targets on energy efficiency, low-carbon heating and even embodied carbon.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has set a tough new carbon budget, and says the built environment must improve its performance if we are to meet our net zero emissions by 2050 goal.

The outcome of the recent consultation on the Future Buildings Standards will shape the next iteration of Part L of the Building Regulations.

Proposals include a shift away from gas-fired heating and hot water in new non-dwellings, as well as a 27% energy efficiency improvement against today’s Part L requirements.

In addition, facilities managers are also dealing with the requirements of the F Gas directive, which has banned the use (and re-use) of certain types of refrigerant commonly used in air conditioning systems.

The switch to low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants is required by law, with penalties for non-compliance.

Proposals include a shift away from gas-fired heating and hot water

James Chaplen James Chaplen Product specialist

Modular HVAC equipment

The legal and environmental challenges for buildings add to the usual design issues that projects face, such as tight spaces and on-site logistics.

One of the popular solutions for this array of challenges is the use of modular building services equipment.

Modular kit provides a modern approach to many of the obstacles faced by new-build and refurbishment project teams.

One of the main benefits of modular equipment, such as chillers, is that they are provided to site in a highly ‘finished’ condition – factory-tested and requiring minimal installation effort. This cuts installation time and reduces the likelihood of errors.

Small and lightweight

One example of this is the Mitsubishi Electric e-Series Chiller. We have seen this adopted across a range of projects by specifiers looking for a modern, energy efficient approach with cooling-only or a heat pump version of the same product that provides LTHW and chilled water capabilities.

Instead of a large, single chiller, a number of smaller modules are connected together, creating the same level of output as a large single chiller. These small, lightweight modules are much easier to deliver to rooftop locations and use a lot less space than traditional chillers. The modules can be placed in number of positions to accommodate almost any available exterior space.

In response to growing popularity, we have introduced an R32 version of the e-Series Chiller, to replace the previous R410A offering. This means that specifiers can benefit from a lower GWP refrigerant (R32 has a GWP of 675 while R410A has a GWP of 2088).

High SEER

The e-Series has a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of up to 5.52 and a Delta T of up to 10oK.  This makes it ideal for a range of commercial buildings such as offices, large retail premises, universities, libraries, hotels and hospitals.

It can also be used in low-temperature ambient loop heat networks for multi-residential or multi-purpose buildings. These are becoming more widely applied as designers aim to incorporate more heat pump technology into projects.

With an array of challenges on their doorstep, it’s important for designers and installers to be able to reach for a range of solutions that can address these issues now and into to the future.

As more, large corporates and clients aim to demonstrate their commitment to low-carbon goals, having efficient, low-GWP chillers as an option is becoming increasingly important.

James Chaplen is a Product Specialist