The day to day operation of a commercial property can put pressure on the environment in many ways. Issues such as waste management, energy usage and resource allocation all play a role in attempting to achieve that delicate balance between the needs of industry and the needs of the planet. And the one area where this may pose the most significant challenge is heating and cooling. According to Environmental Scientist Melissa McCullough with the Environmental Protection Agency “A third of America’s energy goes to buildings and a significant portion of that is for air conditioning and heating of these buildings and that’s a lot of energy use and very often it’s a lot of energy waste because systems are either sized inappropriately or there ducts are leaky, or have other defects. Energy is probably going to be your biggest issue with HVAC equipment, it will have other issues associated with it, indoor mold, indoor air quality effected by mold for example, or sealant leaks can all leak into the indoor environment and produce bad indoor air quality, but the biggest issue really for the greater outdoor environment especially is the energy use that is used by these systems.”
Industry experts agree that increasing the efficiency of HVAC equipment is one way to address these issues. Better filters, high capacity motors and new coolants have been some of the approaches engineers have taken in response. And while these are effective, researchers have discovered a way to improve heating and cooling technology not only on the inside, but out. On the rooftop of the Dolphin Mall in Miami Florida, a unique non-toxic chemical has been applied to the surface of the air-conditioning units. The coating preserves and protects the apparatus, and also enhances its ability to transfer heat.
Jim Gibson of Adsil the company that developed the product explains. “Microguard coatings of this type are a glass like film that forms by interlocking catalyzed cyloxines, which is basically glass suspended in alcohol. It forms a permanent film about 3 microns deep that chemically bonds to the metal or other surfaces. Chemically bonding means it’s sharing an electron with the oxygen molecule on the surface, and becomes part of the surface and then it now is the surface and it cannot be removed other then using sand paper or a very hard core acid like hydrofluoric acid.” The glass-like coating binds in between the joints of copper and aluminum fins which results in an additional heat transfer area, it keeps the units much cleaner, which makes it more efficient and it keeps the unit from corroding.
And while saving energy and reducing heating and cooling costs are important to any operation, property managers are realizing there are other benefits to the coating technology. Manger at the Mall came to these conclusions. “The advantages of using these coatings in air-conditioning units are several. On the evaporator coil you have the advantage that it’s not going to grow mold, and it’s basically going to provide good indoor air quality. On the condenser section it’s going to prevent the unit from corroding, it’s going to make it last longer. It’s gonna also conserve energy by improving the heat transfer through the evaporator and the condenser coil. The fact that they are not going to corrode, they are not gonna develop leaks that often, and the units will be able to operate longer without having to do that much maintenance on them. So we basically reduce the maintenance up to 50% on the cleaning side and on the fact that the units will break down less. “The industry is making more and more efficient equipment all the time which is great. Says Melissa McCullough. “There is great guidance now through the US Green Building Council on how to develop green buildings and what constitutes a green building and we’re finding that more and more people are developing green buildings as they’re developing office buildings or commercial buildings because they’re finding that for the same or very little more money they can have a building that in the long run saves them a whole lot more money and provides a better living environment at the same time”. These concepts are the hallmark of good corporate citizenship.