Buildings aren’t cheap. They aren’t cheap to build and certainly aren’t cheap to maintain. Even the most thought-out and pondered-over maintenance cost spreadsheet will invariably include line items for those extra expenses that were never considered. In terms of energy expenses, one of the most considerable in any building is space cooling. If you’re reading this in February in Australia, you certainly understand the point.
Before we jump into the cooling component, understanding how heat permeates and occupies building space is fundamental. On the external side, heat from the sun hits interior spaces via conduction, convection, or radiation. The former is across roofs, walls, and windows, something common in all buildings. Convection is the movement of hot outdoor air into confined spaces, while radiation refers to heat penetration via transparent surfaces as well as opaque services such as roofs and walls in the form of re-radiation.
An often overlooked transporter of heat is appliances. Items like coffee machines, lighting fixtures, water heaters, and TVs consume electricity and subsequently release heat. Multiplied over large amounts, spaces can get hot rather quickly. Large offices understand this reality all too well.
Heat load calculation is a process where building rooms are surveyed to understand the heat sources in play. This is a highly specialized but fundamental task for HVAC designers to design the appropriate cooling systems, thereby achieving optimal building performance. Thankfully, access to sophisticated software continues to evolve to facilitate this important task, something unimaginable a decade ago.
Keeping cooling costs in check is a must on the maintenance end. Expensive mistakes have been known to occur.