Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems are becoming an increasingly popular option in commercial HVAC projects. These systems work by using refrigerant as the heat-transfer medium to create heating and cooling within zoned spaces without necessarily needing ductwork or secondary air distribution devices
Today, more educational buildings (including public schools, private schools, and colleges/universities) are turning to VRF systems for their heating and cooling needs – and for good reason.
VRF systems are designed and manufactured to provide HVAC equipment that addresses the economic, environmental, and societal concerns facing all parties involved in facilities design and construction.
Today, society is more concerned with the preservation of historical facilities and the maintaining of existing resources utilized during facilities construction. VRF allows existing school facilities to be designed and retrofitted with aesthetics and economic concerns in mind. This is especially beneficial for older buildings that cannot accommodate the ductwork that a traditional HVAC system would require. Additionally, VRF systems can deliver both heating and cooling simultaneously, which traditional HVAC units cannot do.
By installing VRF systems, schools can save time, labor, money, and resources —making for a sustainable project.
From an energy-efficiency standpoint, VRF systems are an excellent choice for schools and districts looking to reduce their environmental footprint without sacrificing comfort in the process. Just as important, schools will enjoy the cost savings that come along with the optimized energy efficiency of these systems. Cost comparisons have shown that the return on investment achieved following a VRF installation is quick, so these systems can pay for themselves in a short period of time. For schools facing budgetary challenges and cutbacks, this is the welcome news that makes VRF systems a sensible option.
In addition to the societal and economic benefits of VRF systems, other unrivaled, guaranteed benefits are precise temperature and comfort control, factors that are essential in any learning environment. The ability of heating and cooling simultaneously in different zones throughout a facility ensures that learning environments are created to meet the requirements that optimize learning facilitation. For example, a large auditorium can be cooled during events where large attendance would otherwise make the space too warm for comfort. Meanwhile, the rest of the building can be heated or kept at a different temperature for maximum comfort and energy savings.
With greater comfort control, schools can create environments that foster better learning for students while keeping staff and teachers happier on the job.
Many schools across the world are already taking advantage of all the benefits VRF systems have to offer, including sustainability, energy efficiency, temperature, and comfort control. Both Forestville Elementary and three Pearl River Elementary Schools have installed VRF systems in recent years.
Forestville Elementary upgraded a nearly 40-year-old HVAC system that was not keeping students or staff comfortable inside the building. The school needed to have the ability to cool and heat both smaller offices and larger areas efficiently, but the space required to install and retrofit ductwork was not available. In order to achieve this requirement, a VRF system was able to provide the temperature control the school needed without the need for extensive retrofitting.
Pearl River Elementary Schools (including Evans Park Elementary, Franklin Elementary, and Lincoln Elementary) were also able to upgrade their outdated baseboard heating and rooftop cooling units to efficient VRF systems. The new systems not only provide the temperature control the schools needed but allowed the school to utilize created space that was previously taken up by the baseboard heating units.
As you can see, VRF systems are a smart, sustainable option for both new construction or retrofit HVAC requirements.