HVAC Engineering and building diagnostics
Investigating and optimising the design and performance of heating, ventilating and cooling systems
The choice of environmental conditioning system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC) can have a major impact on operating costs, energy efficiency and occupant comfort. Choosing an environmental system without first assessing its suitability can be costly. In fact, nine out of ten recent studies conducted in BRE's environmental chamber showed that the initial design was not achieving clients' requirements for occupancy satisfaction. BRE can help with getting the design right and solving problems in existing buildings.
BRE provides an independent and impartial service that assesses the performance of all types of HVAC systems and advises on overall suitability, design issues, installation, energy efficiency, running costs etc. We do this by carrying out physical modelling (using full-size or scale mock-up models), standard test procedures and/or site investigations.
Design reviews and client advice
BRE can review designs and advise clients on innovative HVAC systems including low energy and energy efficient cooling and ventilation systems and strategies.
Building diagnostics and surveys
BRE specialists can carry out investigative building diagnostics and surveys into the cause of poor cooling and ventilation system operation and occupant comfort and provide advice on cost effective solutions.
Mock-up testing and performance tests
BRE undertakes full-scale mock-up testing either in a large environmental chamber or on-site to optimise and improve cooling and ventilation performance and thermal comfort. Indoor climate and equipment tests can be carried out in BRE's Environmental Test Chamber. This is a versatile facility that provides both qualitative and quantitative data on most aspects of indoor air movement, thermal energy and HVAC equipment testing. The large size of the chamber allows all types of model to be built. BRE also has HVAC laboratory facilities for standard performance tests and specialist one-off R&D testing.
SAP Appendix Q testing
We can test whole house ventilation systems, including MVHR (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery) and MEV (mechanical extract ventilation) systems, in our laboratory for obtaining performance data necessary for listing within the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) Product Characteristics Database (PCDB) or Appendix Q database.
Testing domestic heat pumps
We have been approved for testing domestic air to water and water to water heat pumps to EN14511 1-4 for MCS 007 accreditation. BRE can also undertake site trials and house monitoring of heat pumps and other low energy and renewable energy systems.
Examples of previous investigations
On-site system performance test. BRE carried out full scale system tests to accurately measure the cooling performance of the installed air conditioning system and to assess thermal comfort in the occupied spaces. The tests were carried out under controlled design load conditions using simulated occupant and office heat gains and solar heat gain ‘patches'. The test areas were fully instrumented so that thermal comfort could be assessed throughout the space. The tests were carried out before the building was occupied. The tests enabled the client to optimise the position of cooling and ventilation terminals and system control. The tests also allowed the client to provide independent proof of performance.
Investigation into the extent and cause of poor comfort in an air conditioned office building. BRE was commissioned to investigate the extent and cause of complaints about poor occupant comfort. We conducted a detailed survey of the building air conditioning system and measurement of thermal comfort. BRE was able to advise the client on probable causes and a range of options to alleviate the issues.
Laboratory mock-up test of a trading floor and dealer desk cooling system. BRE and the client built a fully functioning mock-up of part of a trading floor with chilled water cooled desks to investigate and optimise the design of the desks and the cooling system equipment load and the effect on CPU operating temperatures and thermal comfort around the desks. BRE as also undertaken similar environmental chamber mock-up tests of other types of buildings.