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Project Launch: 01/01/2021

Partners: Institute for Market Transformation, Slipstream, Ventacity Systems, Fujitsu, Charles M. Stephens

This field evaluation examines electricity savings and cost effectiveness for retrofitting buildings with Very High Efficiency (VHE) HVAC systems.


VHE HVAC is a comprehensive systems-based approach to HVAC efficiency, going far beyond standard dedicated outdoor air systems. This concept separates heating and cooling from ventilation, allowing optimal sizing and control of each. It improves overall system efficiency by pairing a high-performance electric heating and cooling system, such as a heat pump or variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system, with a very high-efficiency packaged heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV). Beyond providing ventilation independently from heating and cooling air, the H/ERV pre-conditions incoming fresh air by recapturing heat (or rejecting it when in cooling mode) from the outgoing air stream without supplemental heating or cooling of the supply air in all but the most extreme ambient conditions. The H/ERV also provides for and manages an economizer function, which is not present in all dedicated outdoor air systems (DOASs). The VHE HVAC approach promises to dramatically reduce commercial building energy use, allowing for smaller systems and ducts. It also may improve indoor air quality, providing 100% MERV-13 filtered outside air for ventilation and recirculating air only in designated zones rather than throughout the building.

The project team will recruit a sample of commercial buildings in the ComEd service territory to test the VHE HVAC systems approach for HVAC retrofit/replacement. Installations will be evaluated for energy savings and indoor air quality, with the overall goal of understanding potential savings, cost effectiveness for customers and pathways to integrate the approach into the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program.