Optimizing Air Handler Efficiency for the Laboratory Environment

Brandon Fortier, IMEG Corp.

Laboratories are notorious energy users due to large exhaust and makeup air requirements, high-zone level equipment loads and the need for continuous operation throughout the year. These programmatic requirements, when not efficiently designed, can result in building owners paying for unnecessarily large heating, cooling, and electrical systems during construction, as well as paying for unnecessarily large utility bills for the life of the facility.

This presentation looks at the four main drivers of airside HVAC system efficiency and provides recommended approaches for appropriately designing each component.

Airside components include:

  • Ventilation requirements and exhaust air makeup.
  • Energy recovery system efficiency.
  • Fan and motor efficiency.
  • Air handling unit pressure drop.
  • Duct system pressure drop.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the energy drivers of airside HVAC systems;
  • Identify system variables and how they influence energy consumption and equipment sizing;
  • Evaluate system options and how to optimize airside performance; and
  • Understand how HVAC design decisions can impact the first costs and annual energy costs.


As IMEG's National Science & Technology leader, Brandon has developed a strong background working with clients in educational, government, and private corporate markets. His expertise includes knowledge of a broad variety of systems, and with an in-depth understanding of energy modeling he brings sustainable solutions to his projects.


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