UBC is in the process of replacing all the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system air filters on campus over the next three years. There are over 10,000 air filters in more than 1,500 HVAC systems on campus—so choosing the right air filter can have huge energy and cost implications.
How HVAC Systems Impact Energy Use
HVAC systems are used to maintain thermal comfort and good indoor air quality by providing fresh, filtered air. Filters block airborne particles to clean the air blown into UBC’s offices, classrooms and laboratories.
As filters get plugged over time they block the HVAC system’s airflow, causing the fan to work harder and ultimately wasting energy. Changing filters allows air to move more freely so the fan uses less energy to circulate air throughout a building.
Cleaner Air – Cleaner Campus
Starting in 2012, UBC’s Energy Planning and Innovation team joined forces with the Building Operations’ Mechanical Maintenance team to analyze and test out several filter types and setups. The goal was to find an air filter that would allow us to balance out the frequency of filter replacement with the filter’s cost, and our maintenance personnel’s time.
The chosen air filter eliminates the need for pre-filters, is energy efficient, and has a low life cycle cost. UBC is now able to:
- Standardize the HVAC filter size across campus, resulting in lower inventory
- Reduce the filter’s physical size, resulting in less labour time, waste and inventory space
- Increase the particle removal efficiency to a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating of 14 (out of 16), which exceeds the LEED® requirement for clean indoor air quality
- Save significant energy due to a lower pressure drop across the filter, compared to our previous filter setup
About 33 per cent of the old filters at UBC have been replaced with new filters so far. The filter switch is already saving the University 700,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. The energy savings will increase to 2,100,000 kWh per year once we complete the filter replacement process in 2016.