January 16, 2014: Vol. 13, No. 3 Advancing HVAC&R to Serve Humanity
And Promote a Sustainable World  



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Industry News

Software Companies Click Into HVAC Industry
PALO ALTO, Calif.—This week, Google announced a cash purchase of home automation company Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. The Nest programmable thermostat is one of the hottest products in the growing market of "smart" heating/cooling-related products. Google Ventures has long been a major investor in the company. Also this week, China's Haier Group introduced its Tianzun air conditioner as the world's first major appliance certified to carry Apple's "Made-for..." (MFi) logo. The Tianzun air conditioner connects to users' iOS devices automatically, enabling them to control the air conditioner via a companion app. Previously, Microsoft demonstrated its intention of entering the HVAC industry with its acquisition of id8 Group R2 Studios in late 2012. id8 Group R2 Studios produces an application that allows users to control home heating and lighting systems from smart phones.

Click here
to read more about Google's purchase of Nest Labs.
Click here
to read more about Haier's Tianzun air conditioner.

Sun Setting on Large-Scale Solar Development?
LOS ANGELES—The pace of solar power development by the U.S. government, once highly touted, has slowed to a crawl. A number of companies have gone out of business and major projects have recently been canceled for lack of financing. Of the 365 federal solar applications since 2009, just 20 plants are on track to be built. Only three large-scale solar facilities have gone online, two in California and one in Nevada. The first auction of public land for solar developers, an event once highly anticipated by federal planners, failed to draw a single bid last fall. Several factors are responsible, industry analysts say. A tight economy has made financing difficult to obtain, and the federal government has not said whether it will continue to offer tax credits of the size that brought a rush of interest in large-scale solar five years ago.

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When 'Continuous Improvement' of Codes, Standards Is Neither
HOUSTON—The ever-increasing size and complexity of building codes and standards presents a problem to engineers, who have less time to fully and properly digest the tomes that define how they should practice their professions, writes Bob Zabcik, director of Research and Development for NCI Group, on the Star Building Systems blog. He illustrates his points by citing specific codes that have grown in size by as much as 15 pages per year for several decades. "So, how do we address this trend of growing complexity and shrinking time?... today’s environment is one where 'can’t see the forest for the trees' problems flourish. Fortunately, those problems are fairly easily spotted when put in front of a person who is capable of seeing the forest because they don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the trees growing in it," he writes. He suggests engineers ask for help on projects from others not bogged down by minutiae. He writes "...let’s do what doctors do in this situation: swallow our pride and ask for a consult from a practitioner whose experiences are different from our own."

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Energy Storage and Recovery Along for the Ride for Transit System
PHILADELPHIA—Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) is installing energy storage and recovery systems to save energy and money. The system will incorporate a hybrid approach to energy storage. It is designed to recover train braking energy to reduce electricity consumption. The system also enables the Authority to generate revenues by participating in ancillary (microgrid) services of the local regional transmission organization (RTO). The system will be installed at the Griscom Substation, located on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line, its most heavily traveled route.

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Growing 'Green' Building Materials From Organic Substances
NEW YORK—Companies are developing building materials that can be created from safe materials that are built with renewable energy, and are completely reusable. Startup company bioMason has developed a brick made from bacterial by-products that cement sand particles together in a matrix that’s strong enough to use for homes. In about five days the bacteria creates a natural cement similar to coral that binds aggregate into a brick without the heat and raw materials required for masonry bricks. Another company, Ecovative, has created a mushroom insulation material that uses agricultural waste products such as plant stalks and seed husks bound together with mycelium, a fungal material. The fungus can be grown in a mold or inside a wall cavity. It can also be used as spray-on foam insulation, blown onto a wall in a structure. The resulting rigid insulation is fire-resistant and fully compostable, and does not contain formaldehyde or other volatile organic compounds.

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In other news...

AHRI Begins Second Phase of Research Into Low-GWP Refrigerants
Number of Net Zero Energy Buildings Growing Rapidly, Says New Report
DuPont Increases HFO-1234yf Production
Saudi Arabia Seizes 40,000 AC Units for Not Meeting Efficiency Requirements
Apple to Build 200-Acre Solar Array for Oregon Data Center
'No Evidence' of Residential Property Impacts Near Wind Turbines, Says Berkeley Lab
German Auto Organization Urges EC to Accept 'Parallel Routes to Refrigerants'


New Zones Added to ASHRAE Climatic Data Standard
A new “Extremely Hot” climate zone has been added to the newly updated ASHRAE climatic data standard. ASHRAE Standard 169, Climatic Data for Building Design Standards, serves as a comprehensive source of climate data for those involved in building design, and provides a variety of climatic information for designing, planning and sizing building energy systems and equipment. An “Extremely Hot” Climate Zone 0, with humid (0A) and dry (0B) zones has been added, and the standard now includes climatic data for 5,564 locations throughout the world.“With this major revision, Standard 169 now includes climate zone maps for the entire world, as opposed to the 2006 standard which only included a U.S. climate zone map,” said Dru Crawley, chair of the committee writing the standard.

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2014 Winter Conference Session Covers Commissioning
When it comes to ensuring your building is operating as designed, the best action you can take is to look for trouble. “Once a building has been commissioned and is operating efficiently, the goal is to keep it that way,” said H. Jay Enck, of Commissioning & Green Build Solutions in Buford, Ga. “Even the most effectively commissioned building can go bad. That’s why it’s important to look for operational issues trouble and fix it before it becomes a costly issue.” Enck is a speaker in the seminar "Effective Best Practices for Successful Building Systems Commissioning" at the 2014 ASHRAE Winter Conference. The Conference will be held Jan. 18-22 at the New York Hilton in Midtown Manhattan. The seminar will be held on Monday, Jan. 20 at 11 a.m.

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Feature of the Week

Adsorption Refrigeration: New Opportunities for Solar
By Kai Wang, Ph.D., Member ASHRAE; Edward A. Vineyard, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE
Adsorption (also called “solid sorption”) refrigeration systems use solid sorption material such as silica gel and zeolite to produce cooling effect. These systems are attracting increasing attention because they can be activated by low-grade thermal energy and use refrigerants having zero ozone depletion potential and low global warming potential. The adsorption refrigeration system has several advantages compared to the absorption refrigeration system.

This article originally was published in September 2011. Click here to download the article. It will be available here through Jan. 30.

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Product News

Controllers From Honeywell
MINNEAPOLIS—Honeywell offers the Stryker line of configurable controllers for variable air volume (VAV) and constant volume air-handling unit (CVAHU) applications. The VAV controllers feature preprogrammed heat/ cooling or reheat algorithms for VAV box control applications and can be configured to match a range of VAV applications. The CVAHU controller is designed to control a range of air-handling units including single-zone and heat pump air handlers.

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Mobile App From Spirax Sarco
BLYTHEWOOD, S.C.—Spirax Sarco offers the Steam Tools mobile app, designed to provide users access to key calculations to identify the proper steam tools for specific applications. The app enables quick and easy access to Steam Tables and Saturated Steam Pipe Sizing tools without the need for an Internet connection. Also within the app are links to the company's steam engineering tutorials, product literature catalog, international website and YouTube channel. The Steam Tools app is available for Android and iOS devices.

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Rooftop Unit From Advantix Systems
SUNRISE, Fla.—The DuTreat rooftop unit from Advantix Systems is a packaged downdraft rooftop unit that uses liquid desiccant technology to deliver energy savings of up to 60% compared to other rooftop systems. It provides direct control of humidity and temperature loads with no reheat required. It also naturally filters and disinfects air for improved IAQ.

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