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HVAC replacement strategy

Does your HVAC system need replacing or does it require significant updates? Chances are that you need to develop an HVAC replacement strategy. Keeping your HVAC system up and running is a complex business and optimising efficiencies and keeping downtime takes significant effort. As equipment ages, it becomes more inefficient and liable to break down, increases discomfort levels and results in complaints. Having a replacement strategy in place is a necessity in these circumstances.

Developing a replacement strategy is a process and using the following methodology will help to complete it.

Step 1: Gather data for the HVAC replacement strategy

How do you determine which items need replacing? This is not as simple as just working backwards from oldest to newest. There are more factors that determine which equipment needs replacing first. You should be regularly collecting the following information and keeping it in a central storage:

  • Original system specs; size, type model, serial number, age and efficiency rating.
  • Condition as reported by maintenance inspections. A set of defined condition ratings needs to be in place.
  • Repair history and cost data for both the current year and the equipment lifetime. 
  • The cost of replacing the current HVAC system.
  • Current energy efficiency and unit operating costs.

By analysing this data, you can begin to set priorities.

Step 2: Analyse data and set priorities.

With regular reports and the data as outlined above, you can begin to set priorities for the project.  Operating and repair costs and equipment age need to be considered for setting priorities. For example, a newer piece of equipment could have low maintenance costs but be energy inefficient. With increasing energy costs, this may then need to be replaced before an older, more efficient piece of equipment with higher maintenance costs. Less efficient units add more cost when energy prices increase. 

Other factors that may have to be considered are remodelling, exiting a lease or repurposing existing buildings. These factors may have an influence on the prioritisation of unit replacements.

Often, you will find that replacing the worst units will bring the biggest return on investment as operating and maintenance costs are significantly reduced.

Step 3: Build your business case.

Once you have prioritised your unit replacement, you will need to build a business case for management approval. This will need to show the costs involved in the replacement project as well as the return on investment and payback period. This should now be reasonably easy using the data you have collected and analysed.

There may however be a few more things you may wish to consider for example newer technology. Is it time to invest in a BMS (building management system) such as Tridium Niagara?

When factoring in the cost of replacing a unit, you may simply assume that the old unit will be replaced by a new one. However, if for example you currently have a CAV (Constant Air Volume) system it may be time to install a VAV (Variable Air Volume) system. This may initially cost more, but the long-term benefits in increased efficiency and comfort can be justified.

Don’t forget to account for other costs such as breakdowns in existing equipment. Usually, emergency replacement in breakdown situations costs more than proactive replacement. Cost in loss of business or production, emergency equipment leasing and any other costs such as building approvals.

During this step, it is advisable to seek expert help. They can help you with your proposal, budget and costing. 

HVAC replacement strategy

Step 4: Obtain Management buy in for your plan.

Obtaining management approval for your plan depends on more than your business case. Explain all the peripheral benefits that management may be considering. For example, management may be concerned with the user experience. This may be employee wellbeing in office space, customer comfort in the retail space of the commitment of management towards being carbon neutral. 

HVAC replacement strategy

Whatever the drivers for your HVAC replacement or refurbishment plan ensure that they are adequately covered in the plan.

ACS is an importer and distributor of Building Management Systems, Energy Efficient Building Automation Controllers relevant sensing and control equipment. Contact us for assistance in developing your HVAC strategy plan.