Technology park air conditioning brought up to date

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Published: 21 May 2018


After nearly two decades of excellent service, the failure of an air conditioning system based on the now-banned R22 refrigerant left Coventry University Technology Park with no alternative but to seek a total replacement.

After a 12-week project, the Enterprise Centre building’s air conditioning was replaced with a VRV IV heat recovery system from Daikin UK. And it has sparked a rolling project to replace R22 systems elsewhere in the park.
The three-storey Enterprise Centre is one of several buildings on site, accommodating start-up and small technology businesses. Overall, the park enables tenants to work among like-minded people and gives them access to meeting rooms, high-speed communications and the wider academic community.

High technology when they were installed in the 1990s, the R22 systems were operating on borrowed time following the 2015 ban on the refrigerant because of its ozone depletion potential.

After the ban, it was illegal to recharge a system with R22 so engineers could not work on or replace any components in the refrigerant line. However, it was not illegal to operate an R22 system. In testament to the reliability of the old systems – in this case a Daikin installation – many continued to operate for a long time without component problems.

When problems did hit the system, consultants Pick Everard and Daikin installer Envirotech Climate Control were called in. Richard Cobb, an associate at Pick Everard, said: “The original systems were defunct and no longer maintained, meaning they need to be replaced. We phased works to limit disruption to the occupants within a live environment; all work within the building was conducted out of hours, either at night or weekends. This is a rolling programme for the rest of the site to replace the R22 refrigerants completely. Once finished the result will be buildings that are significantly more energy efficient and fully compliant with building regulations.”

Flexibility
Envirotech Climate Control director Brett McKay says the Enterprise Centre now has nine VRV IV heat recovery condensers in a compound at the rear of the building. He said: “There are three systems – one for each floor – giving the building a total of 136HP. Indoors, there are medium static pressure ducted fan coil units throughout. We also installed Daikin heat reclaim VAM units to provide energy efficient ventilation.”

To give tenants some flexibility with the temperature of their offices, the fan coil units and the ventilation units are individually controlled via Daikin wired remote controllers. Overall, the systems are controlled with a Daikin i-Touch Manager with a Bacnet gateway interface to link with a building management system.

The installation, in a fully operational building, posed some problems for Envirotech. McKay said: “We worked on one floor at a time, entirely out of office hours so as not to disturb the tenants. With a team of 10 on the project, we were able to complete the project on schedule.”

Technology Park manager Jane Rawlings-Purcell held several meetings with Envirotech at the start of the project so that issues could be identified. She said: “My expectations were exceeded and the result was a well-designed system that was seamlessly installed without any hitches. It made a pleasant change to work with a very professional team that actually listened to our needs and managed the job faultlessly.”