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Industry News Efforts to Improve Natural Gas Furnace Efficiency Have Chilled
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Natural gas furnaces, by far the most popular way to warm U.S. homes, should be an obvious target for new energy-efficiency regulations to lower heating bills. However, a 10-year federal effort to raise the minimum standard for gas furnaces, which hasn't changed in decades, has so far been unsuccessful. Missteps, disagreements and a lawsuit have derailed the effort. It now looks as if it will take several more years to implement a new standard. Under the current federal rule for natural gas furnaces, the appliances must be 78% efficient. The proposed standard would raise that to 90% for new furnaces installed in northern states. The standard for southern states would remain essentially unchanged at 80%. In an average residence, a furnace that is 90% or more efficient costs an extra $600 to $800, with installation. But it can save $50 to $100 or more a year in fuel costs. However, critics of the proposed standard, while acknowledging the benefits, say it is deeply flawed. Among the alleged flaws are the different efficiency standards for warmer and cooler climates, which would be difficult to enforce. A lawsuit filed by an opponent of the proposed rule is still in the courts. Pending the outcome, the new efficiency standards for air conditioners are scheduled to go into effect in 2015.
Defense Department Ends Restrictions on LEED Gold, Platinum Certifications
WASHINGTON—A law signed by President Barack Obama late last year lifts limitations on using U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) funds to pursue LEED Gold and Platinum certifications. In the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012, section 2830(b)(1) provided, "No funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2012 may be obligated or expended for achieving any LEED gold or platinum certification." The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014 negates the continuation of that rule by including it in "Legislative Provisions Not Adopted." The DoD manages more than 500 installations worldwide comprising nearly 300,000 buildings covering 2.3 billion ft2 (214 million m2). It owns more LEED-certified buildings than any other entity.
Outdoor Pollutants Can Get Indoors, Says Study
BOSTON—A recent study found that indoor air consistently contains about 25% of the particle pollution that is measured outside. Randy Martin, lead author of the study and associate research professor of environmental engineering at Utah State University, studied the effects of outdoor pollution on indoor air quality on "red" air quality days. Air quality is considered unhealthy for the general population once it is classified as red, meaning it has an index value of 151 to 200 on the American Lung Association's air quality index. Martin and his team found that contaminants such as ammonium nitrate mix with indoor air at particulate sizes small enough to "penetrate all the way down into your respiratory system and deposit itself in the deepest lung tissue in the sacs, which can interfere with your oxygen exchange in your capillaries."
AHR Expo To Donate $12,525 to NYC Community Organization
WESTPORT, Conn.—An organization that provides education, training and leadership opportunities to low-income young adults in New York City will benefit from a program of the 2014 AHR Expo. A $12,525 donation to Youth Action YouthBuild (YAYB) will be funded by entry fees from the 2014 AHR Expo Innovation Awards competition. AHR Expo donates the Awards entry fees every year to not-for-profit organizations in the city the Expo is being held. Since the Award’s inception, more than $125,000 has been donated to organizations throughout the U.S. Many such organizations have used the donations to enhance their HVAC systems or help train industry technicians. The donation from AHR Expo will be used to help upgrade the HVAC systems of the homes YAYB is building or renovating for its constituents.
Firefighter Study Find Workers Can Become Conditioned to Heat Over Time
OTTAWA, Ontario—Older firefighters who are chronically exposed to heat stress on the job could be more heat-resilient over time, according to a study published in the December 2013 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH). The study found that older firefighters may be able to tolerate more challenging or arduous work environments before they feel affected by the heat, compared to non-heat-exposed workers who would need to stop work prematurely. "If you have older workers who work in the heat, they are in a better position to handle working in the heat as compared to their non-heat-exposed counterparts," said lead investigator Glen P. Kenny, Ph.D, a professor at the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa. "If they can better handle the heat stress, they can better perform challenging tasks without putting themselves at greater risks of injuries caused by impairments in mental function, alertness, concentration, motor dexterity and coordination."
Creators of Lithium-Ion Battery to Receive NAE's Highest Honor
WASHINGTON—The developers of the lithium-ion battery will be presented the highest honor of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). John B. Goodenough, Yoshio Nishi, Rachid Yazami, and Akira Yoshino will receive the Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering. It is a $500,000 annual award that honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in mobile devices. The prize will be presented at an event in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 18.
ASHRAE News ASHRAE Refrigeration Commissioning Guide Available for Free Download
A new guide from ASHRAE outlines a commissioning process that would result in substantial savings. Refrigeration Commissioning Guide for Commercial and Industrial Systems is available for free download. It provides user-friendly, how-to guidance for commissioning of custom-engineered refrigeration systems in commercial and industrial facilities. Sixty percent of energy use in supermarkets is attributed to refrigeration, and studies have shown commissioning could result in energy savings of 7% to 25%. The book was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Click here to learn more and to begin the free download process.
AHRI, ASHRAE, CRAA to Host Technology Forum
A forum to exchange technology and industry information is being held by three major industry groups at the 2014 AHR Expo. AHRI, ASHRAE, and the China Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Industry Association (CRAA) will host a one-day technology forum at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Wednesday, Jan. 22. Technical experts and members representing all three organizations will present technical papers on a variety of topics, including IEQ, heat pump technology, variable frequency technology, standards, energy efficiency, and refrigerant policy.
Click here to learn more and to register.
Feature of the Week Using CO2 to Reduce Refrigerant Charge
By S. Forbes Pearson, Ph.D.
The possibility of a large leak of any type of refrigerant diminishes as the charge is reduced. This article shows some ways refrigerant charge may be reduced without significant penalty in terms of efficiency.
This article originally was published in October 2012. Click here to download the article. It will be available here through Jan. 23.
After Jan. 23, access to the article from this eNewsletter will no longer be available. It will remain available for free download by members here and for purchase by nonmembers in the ashrae.org online store.
Product News Thermo-Anemometer From Extech Instruments
NASHUA, N.H.—Extech Instruments offers the AN500 Hot Wire CFM/CMM thermo-anemometer. The device shows readings of air velocity and temperature (with automatic temperature compensation) on a dual display. It also calculates cfm/cmm based on adjustable duct shape and size.
Energy Recovery Wheel From Innergy tech
DRUMMONDVILLE, Quebec—Innergy tech’s I3 energy recovery wheel recovers both sensible and latent energy. It features the company's AirLoop labyrinth sealing system, designed to reduce fan energy loss by as much as 40% compared to conventional energy wheels.
IAQ Monitor From E Instruments International
LANGHORNE, Pa.—E Instruments International introduces the AQ Pro handheld indoor air quality monitor for applications such as laboratories, cleanrooms and hospitals. It features an internal sampling pump to increase measurement speed and accuracy.
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