Indoor Air Quality

Single-Package Unit Ventilators Improve Indoor Air Quality, Efficiency

There is a growing level of both interest and requirements to improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) through improved ventilation, temperature and humidity control, and filtration to improve the health of students and teachers in K–12 schools. Aging equipment often is not designed to meet these requirements, prompting replacement. But this replacement comes with an added benefit—that being significantly improved efficiency.

An energy-efficient HVAC solution can have numerous benefits, from lower energy costs to better performance. According to the Department of Energy, depending on the region, replacing heating and cooling equipment with higher efficiency equipment can reduce energy use by 50 percent for electric heating and cooling systems and 10 percent for gas furnace heating systems (U.S. Department of Energy’s eeCompass guide).

But, with the numerous options available on the market, finding a solution to meet your ventilation, filtration, and dehumidification needs can be difficult. For K–12 schools, single-packaged vertical unit (SPVU) ventilators provide both efficiency benefits as well as IAQ improvements. Here’s a little bit more about SPVUs.

What is a SPVU?

A SPVU is a unit that is designed to fit inside a single classroom and provides dedicated ventilation for that space, as well as individual zone control. As the name states, vertical units are installed upright in a tall configuration. Because SPVUs are single-room solutions, they help prevent the spread of airborne pathogens from room to room versus centralized ducted systems. Vertical units typically offer superior features to their older horizontal counterparts, which include improved ventilation capability, ability to include energy recovery, quieter operation, improved dehumidification controls (hot gas reheat is often used on packaged units), better air distribution (can be ducted within the room), and high MERV rated filters, all while using less floor space for installation.

Improved Efficiency

Starting with the refrigeration system, SPVUs have a number of features that contribute to improved efficiency. For example, the Airedale ClassMate is available as an air source heat pump, featuring heating capability that is approximately three times more efficient than traditional resistance heating.  The SchoolMate is a water/ground source heat pump unit that maximizes energy efficiency by utilizing the relatively consistent ground temperature as a heat sink/source, resulting in very high heating and cooling efficiencies, saving schools thousands of dollars annually.

There are other options available to improve efficiency even further. Total energy recovery wheels reduce operating costs by recycling energy from exhaust air to preheat or precool incoming fresh air. Full economizers provide 100-percent free-cooling and minimum fresh air requirements. Either individually or combined, these are excellent features to help improve IAQ and efficiency for K–12 facilities.

Better Performance

The overall HVAC goal for a facility is to have a solution that both improves IAQ while operating highly efficiently.  With that often comes high performance, especially when controlled by factory microprocessor controls that optimize the operating characteristics to meet changing conditions, whether that is inside the space being conditioned or the outside air that is introduced to provide clean ventilation air. 

With high efficiency options, outstanding ventilation capabilities, filtration up to MERV 13, and excellent humidity control, SPVUs can provide a great environment for children and teachers while also reducing energy usage in the process.

About the Author

Michael Schires is the Senior Product Manager for the IAQ division of Modine Manufacturing Company.