HVAC Systems

Heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) systems circulate and exhaust conditioned air at a prescribed rate of exchange and are crucial to the safety and comfort of a facility. HVAC systems depend on a network of equipment and rooms to function properly:

  • air handling units
  • cooling and heating equipment
  • emergency generators
  • plumbing equipment rooms
  • electrical and telecomunications distribution rooms.

All of these must be carefully planned and integrated in an effective HVAC system. In designing a system that works, the first consideration always should be the safety, health, and comfort of all students and faculty. The second concern should be a high standard of efficiency.

In building a new HVAC system, much can be learned from whatever system is already in place. Planners should think about what works and what doesn't work in the old HVAC system. Adaptability is also crucial, as whatever system is implemented may have to function safely for thirty years or more. Decision makers should evaluate each individual piece of equipment for a new facility in terms of value and cost, always keeping in mind how all the pieces will work together.

From Experience: Bucknell University

A well designed science facility, and even a well designed HVAC system, can and should be reflective of the institution it serves. At Bucknell University's Science Center, the guiding principle was clear-keep it simple. The design strategy went back to basics: balancing low initial costs and efficient use with designing systems that were easy to maintain. The goals were compatible with and not at the expense of the academic program. What it took at Bucknell was to analyze the individual components of the HVAC system and assign the most appropriate technology to each. This approach resulted in a hybrid system tailored specifically to meet the needs identified by the Bucknell community-one which provided simple, cost-effective, and maintainable heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning.

Asking the Right HVAC Questions

What works in our old HVAC system?

What doesn't work?

What is the value of each piece of equipment?

How will they fit together in the system?