Air quality and energy worries driving demand for AHU refurbs

Daikin Applied UK (DAPUK) is reporting growing demand from clients for air handling unit (AHU) refurbishments and upgrades as they search for better energy efficiency and healthier indoor environments.

Many clients with systems that are typically more than 10 years old are looking to improve performance, but without the cost of having to replace complete units. As a result, DAPUK said it was carrying out an increasing number of projects to “refresh” AHUs by replacing key components, upgrading to new technologies and recommissioning.

As well as improving day-to-day operation, upgrading an AHU can substantially extend its useful operating life and provide additional indoor air quality (IAQ) benefits. This saves upfront capital costs and reduces the client’s environmental impact by minimising embodied carbon.

End users are facing rising energy costs and are also far more aware of the need to improve airflows in occupied spaces to reduce the spread of airborne viruses and other contaminants following the hard lessons learned during the pandemic. Also, with annual flu and cold epidemics coming round again this autumn more are looking to make their buildings more infection resilient.

Wear and tear

The DAPUK team will carry out a full survey of the AHU to check for wear and tear in components like heating and cooling coils, filters, and supply and extract fans. As well as improving airflows and energy efficiency, replacing or repairing fans will also reduce noise, which can be another symptom of impaired performance and a source of occupant complaints. Working on the heat recovery elements is another important consideration when looking to reduce energy consumption, according to DAPUK.

Going down the refurbishment route means an installed AHU can also take advantage of new technology such as EC motors, which are more efficient and reliable than the AC motors used in many installed AHUs. They are quieter and run at a lower temperature so have a longer operating life as well as being less likely to fail. EC fans also have fewer components than AC equivalents so need less maintenance and are less expensive to install.

Plug and play options

The healthcare sector has some specific requirements in this area and the DAPUK team are currently refurbishing fans, coils, and filters throughout the Sunderland Royal hospital. This includes upgrading to a ‘plug and play’ option for the fans allowing the onsite FM team to rapidly drop in replacements for critical areas like operating theatres so any downtime can be kept to an absolute minimum.

The company is also carrying out another large AHU upgrade project at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary including changing filter frames to ensure they comply with HTM specifications. Motor and inverter upgrades are also being carried out and new replacement intake sections and heat exchangers may be part of the next stage.

This work is not restricted to Daikin Applied products as the team are more than happy to work on all makes of AHU on behalf of clients who are increasingly looking to extend the life and operating efficiency of their existing services. “We will refurbish any AHU, anywhere, anytime,” said Daikin Applied’s AHU senior site supervisor Jamie Rutherford.

“We can offer full or partial refurbs and if required, the project can also be staged to allow the system to keep operating and minimising downtime throughout the refurbishment process. Full sections or single components can be replaced depending on the condition of the unit".

New range launched

Daikin Applied also recently extended its range of AHUs with the UK launch of the compact Modular T series. It features an advanced triple stage filtration approach to improve IAQ in several types of building, at a time of growing concern about this vital health and well-being issue.

The Modular T has been designed to reduce the concentration of potentially harmful airborne pathogens including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) while also helping to reduce CO2 levels.