EnVerid’s HVAC load reduction technology improves air quality at this fitness center.
Reducing HVAC energy usage for the University of Miami’s UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center was not an easy task. And considering the hot, humid climate and the nearby pollution-heavy highway, managing indoor air quality (IAQ) was difficult, too. But fortunately, enVerid’s unique HVAC Load Reduction (HLR) technology made the 60,000-square-foot fitness facility possible—without sacrificing energy efficiency or interior comfort.
Founded in 2010, enVerid aims to reduce HVAC energy consumption while improving IAQ with leading solvent technology. “If you reduce the amount of outside air flowing into a building, you’re often compromising the quality of the air. But having a system that cleans the air is the best of both worlds,” says Mike McFarland, vice president of marketing and product management at enVerid.
“Without enVerid’s products, we would have had problems in the summertime during peak load conditions. And because it’s a fitness center, we wanted as much fresh air in there as possible,” says Carl Thomason, energy manager at the University of Miami. Thomason and his team did not want to change the chemical composition of the air, so enVerid’s HLR modules were the perfect choice, as the units simply clean, or scrub, the indoor air using reusable sorbents.
The Scrubbing Technology
In fitness centers, air contaminants are abundant. Exercise equipment and mats often off-gas toxic chemicals like formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). And large amounts of carbon dioxide are generated from people exercising. The UHealth center uses three HLR modules to help reduce indoor air pollutants and increase energy savings.
So, how does the system work? Essentially, enVerid’s HLR modules take a portion of the air inside the building through their scrubbing system, which has a unique formula of sorbents that effectively absorbs all contaminants. “You have to have some way to clean air safely, and sorbents have been used for centuries. Think of spacecrafts that don’t have access to outdoor air,” McFarland says. “Our system is unique—enVerid’s sorbents are verified and tested to not produce any secondary unhealthy byproducts.”
To maintain efficiency, enVerid regenerates the HLR modules at a very low temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Eventually, all sorbents saturate, but this low temperature slows down the saturation process.
Developed seven years ago, enVerid’s patented sorbent technology also decreases the HVAC system’s peak load. The cartridges last a whole year, which is long compared to other sorbents. You can also ship used cartridges back to enVerid at no cost so they can recycle them, making HLR modules a more sustainable choice. “Through the scrubbing system, we’ve had better indoor air quality,” Thomason says. “The HLR units dropped everything across the board—CO2, VOCs, and formaldehyde.”
A Green Partnership
In the initial stages, the enVerid project team assessed the university’s air quality goals, as well as the facility’s HVAC mechanical environment, to create a detailed installation plan. “The biggest challenge starting off was figuring out the design and what worked. enVerid’s project management team was great during that process,” Thomason says. “In some buildings it would have been a lot harder. Luckily, we had many outside-facing walls.”
Because of the success of the UHealth project, the university selected enVerid for three additional projects: a library, an administrative office building, and a medical office and classroom building.
“We’re in the process of buying four new HLR units in a new renovated office building with high occupancy,” says Ron Bogue, assistant vice president for facilities and services at the University of Miami. Bogue and his team are also interested in how they could migrate enVerid’s technology into the university’s medical laboratories in the future.
McFarland and his team look forward to continuing their work with the university. “The University of Miami’s Green U initiative aligns with our mission of sustainability,” he says. “The project allocates specific funding for green initiatives, which shows they’re taking a leadership role in environmental responsibility.”
For the University of Miami, going green was an easy decision because of the savings. “With the Department of Energy grant, the payback on paper for enVerid’s HLR units was less than two years,” Thomason says. He and his team looked at other products, but they were not as impressed. “For us, it was either keep using outside air, or not. And with enVerid it’s a no-brainer—if you cut outside air then you’re going to save money.”
From an energy management perspective, Thomason’s main goal was cutting down on utility costs. “We’re interested in going forward with more enVerid products since we’re in cooling conditions 85 to 90% of the year.”
McFarland says one of the main benefits of incorporating HLR modules is reducing the cost of a building’s overall HVAC systems. Reducing the system’s peak load makes all the difference. “When it came down to it, it was an energy equation,” Bogue says. “We were able to minimize the outside air and still have high indoor air quality.”
Looking to the Future
As the company continues to expand with a branch in China, enVerid is focusing on implementing their technology both domestically and internationally. “We think this technology we’ve developed is transformational for ventilation in buildings,” McFarland says. “If the product was deployed across the U.S. the total energy consumption would go down. Making such a big impact with this technology alone is exciting, especially when you think of air quality as another aspect of sustainability.”
McFarland says he sees a lot of focus within the HVACR industry on energy efficiency. “We’ve taken a big step forward. Our HLR units typically save 20 to 30% on HVAC energy consumption. The industry in general is in the right direction. In the next 10 years, I think cleaning indoor air and recycling it will become the typical design.”
Project: University of Miami - UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center
Size: 60,000 square feet
Project Manager: enVerid
VP for Facilities and Services: Ron Bogue
Director of Energy Management Systems: Marcelo Bezos
Energy Manager: Carl Thomason
Problem: Poor indoor air quality and high HVAC energy usage
Solution: Installing enVerid HLR modules to scrub air of contaminants and reduce amount of outside air ventilation needed
36% reduction in HVAC energy usage
$19.5K in savings for annual HVAC costs
41% peak HVAC capacity reduction
75% reduction in outside air required
10% decrease in relative humidity