building [HVAC]

HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. Most insiders would agree that it is more commonly pronounced H-V-A-C and not H-Vac.  Engineers and contractors who work in the field of HVAC focus on one or more of the three main building groups, residential, commercial, and industrial.  Within these building groups the types of HVAC systems can vary greatly, but the primary goal is always the same to provide an enviroment that will meet the needs of the occupants, equipment, and/or processes.  HVAC at its best is an invisible building component that people don't notice, but at its worse a building becomes unusable and possibly even fatal.


The residential market in the US and possibly in other places is largely ignored by the HVAC engineer.  Unless you are building a large, complicated mansion, an engineer isn't going to be an option for you.  Luckily most residential systems are relatively simple and most contractors are savvy enough to help homeowners with their needs.  But I would always recommend that homeowners check out their contractors and never be affraid to get a second opinion, knowledge is power.  In the US, I feel it is safe to say that most homes have a forced-air system with DX-cooling (with a condensing unit outside) and a gas-fired or electric heating furnace connected to a sheetmetal ductwork distribution system with grilles located around the home.  Other systems typically found in homes (depending on climate) are simple hot water heating systems and steam systems.


This group to me covers the bulk of the buildings that are out there in the market.  This is the place that most engineers will find themselves practicing.  It is also the arena of the larger contractors who have the staffing in place to handle all the requirements and details for these projects.  The building types in this group can include schools, office buildings, government buildings, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, etc.  The types of systems that can be found in these places are numerous and I will cover a number of them on some of the other pages in this site. 


The last group tends to be very specialized.  Here the engineering talents tend to be very specialized because of the types and scale of the systems designed for these spaces.  Also it is in this group that comfort cooling and heating may take a back seat to the needs of the process heating and cooling needs of these buildings.  For example the ventilation needs of a paint spray booth or the heating requirements of a dip tank.


System Classifications

The type of HVAC systems air lumped into two main systems: air and water.

Air-Side Systems

Air-side systems include fans, ductwork, associated equipment, and controls.  Some of the equiment that is associated with the air-side systems include pieces such as: Air-Handling units, Rooftop Units, Exhaust Fans, VAV boxes (Variable Air Volume), and Furnaces.

Water-Side Systems

Water-side systems typically include a variety of pumps, pipes, assocaited equipment and controls.  Within this, one can break the systems down into, hydonic systems (heatinig, chilled, and condenser water) and steam systems.  Equipment associated with these include pieces such as: Boilers, Chillers, Cooling Towers, Pumps, Valves, and Heat Exchangers.