Please click an example below:
- Air Improve, Television And Changing Technologies
- Broadwall Properties
- Maintenance - A vital tool!
- F Gas Regulations
- Cool Congregation
- The Big Bang of 2005!
- More Than Just An Air Conditioning Installer
- Controlled And On Time!
- Legionnaires' Disease: An Employers Guide
Air Improve, Television And Changing Technologies
For over 20 years, Air Improve Ltd have installed and maintained air conditioning, ventilation and other mechanical services in the London Television Studios, South Bank, Central London. The complex of buildings including a 23 storey tower block, studios and technical areas were built in the late 1960's for the London Weekend Television company and is now the base for ITV plc, also incorporating GMTV, the early morning breakfast channel.
The original air conditioning comprised of Carrier Weathermaster units on 18 of the occupied floors within the tower, supplying cooling and heating from floor mounted fan coils driven by chilled water and low pressure hot water, in chillers, boilers and calorifiers located in the basement plant room. The remaining 5 floors (basement to 3rd floor) comprised generally of studios, edit and graphic suites and control suites for the studios. In these areas, original design called for high velocity ducted systems with VAV terminals, controlled electronically or pneumatically through Johnson wall sensors operated centrally from the Heat and Ventilation department via a BMS system. The larger air handling plants are located around the site in plant rooms with CIAT chillers located in the basement plant room.
In the middle of the 1980s subtle changes were coming through in the way that television companies organised themselves. Studio space was now at a premium and attempts on site to turn office space into smaller news and current affairs studios, aided by the 'new electronics of the computer age' were tried out successfully. The existing induction units did not have the capacity or flexibility to cool the bays of electronic equipment springing up around the building and to deal with the new studio lighting levels.
The first of these studios were located on the 10th floor of the tower block. Air Improve developed a system comprising of large air cooled condensers located on a third floor roof with refrigerant pipe runs up to the 10th floor feeding a low noise ducted fan coil system to cool this new studio and technical area. This arrangement was totally stand alone and independent of the central plant.
The concept of air conditioning hot spots in the technical areas was now accepted and as the technology changed very rapidly during the 80s and 90s Daikin split heat pump systems were installed in edit suites, graphics and AVID suites to cool operators and equipment. Daikin ceiling cassettes and ceiling ducted units for good air distribution formed the majority of installations with pipe work run through ceilings out to condenser units normally located on the 23rd floor roof of the tower block or on the 3rd floor studio roof. Fortunately during this period, the separation distance allowed to run pipe work between indoor fan coil and outdoor condensing units was increasing as Daikin technological advances continued. The ability to air condition areas was now more flexible than ever.
In 1996, GMTV part owned by London Weekend Television, was located on the 4th floor in the tower block. As the station operates 24 hours a day, it was decided to install a Daikin stand alone VRV heat pump system comprising of 4 condensers located on an adjacent roof and some 24 fan coils supplying cooling and heating to the floor. Fresh air was provided by an integrated ventilation system. Technical areas were cooled by stand alone Daikin splits. Again the system has proved very flexible.
We have seen technology change significantly since 2000. The introduction of blade servers in technical areas has revolutionised the electronic bays capacity to operate but has changed the footprint from the original 1.5kW output to 15-20kW at a stroke! The fight for ceiling void space continues but smaller diameter refrigerant pipe work aids installation of air conditioning systems as ceiling voids fill up with IT, lighting and electrical cabling. In a world of energy conservation, the energy savings of Daikin heat pumps over conventional systems create significant cost savings.
Today, Air Improve is fully involved with most mechanical aspects of work at ITV. We maintain now over 400 air conditioning systems, install air conditioning and ductwork ventilation, controls, plumbing works, replacement of plant etc. We think that this highlights Air Improve's continuing ability to recognise and exploit new technologies for the benefit of our clients.
Case Study Written by Damien Kirby, Managing Director
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In 2002 one of Air Improves' major clients needed some additional temporary office space close to their central London base of operations. They took over the top floor of a local office block with existing 'cooling only' air conditioning systems, which we were asked to maintain whilst they were in occupation. At the end of their short term lease the floor became vacant and the building owner decided to take the opportunity to refurbish the floor before leasing out to new clients. It was also his intention to refurbish the other five floors in the building on a phased basis over the next two to three years.
Air Improve were asked to provide a recommendation for providing revised heating and cooling arrangements initially to the top floor. With many years experience of installing Daikin systems we had no hesitation in suggesting that Daikin inverter driven units were installed on each floor in this block as they provided the efficiency and flexibility that the client was looking for.
Commencing with the top floor we liaised closely with the builder throughout the refurbishment process. On this particular floor the building owner decided to install a Barrisol ceiling which consists of a stretched fabric above which all the services, and lighting effects are concealed. This included some of our refrigerant pipework, cabling and condensate removal hoses. This allowed us to install large capacity wall mounted units around the perimeter of the floor to provide the necessary cooling and heating levels. The flat roof area above provided sufficient space for the respective condensing units.
As each floor became vacant a different approach was taken to accommodate the various layouts/office orientation. The comprehensive range of Daikin equipment available allowed us to install various different systems including simple split, multi type and mini VRV systems, together with heat recovery ventilation in certain internal office areas. Combinations of wall mounted, ceiling mounted cassettes, and under ceiling four way blow cassettes were installed over a period of three years.
Each floor now has its own dedicated system(s) with individual control and operated via new electrical distribution boards on each floor, linked to meters in the basement, so that it is a simple matter for the Landlord to apportion running costs to each tenant. All the systems are inverter driven heat pump type giving excellent COP's (coefficient of performance) and low operating costs. R410A refrigerant gas is used in all the new systems, the latest highly efficient gas with a low GWP (Global Warming Potential). All the systems also qualified for ECA (Enhanced Capital Allowance) meaning that the client could claim the full cost of the installation against profits in the first year rather than over several years.
Case Study Written by Graham Osborn, Sales Manager
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Maintenance - A vital tool!
Planned preventative maintenance or servicing is a vital tool in sustaining your air conditioning system's efficiency. It is definitely not a waste of time! When you buy a car for example, it is never just the initial outlay you spend. You spend further money looking after the car with services to help extend the cars life and maintain its efficiency. Air conditioning equipment is exactly the same. It is normally recommended that the equipment is serviced at least once a year to comply with the manufacturers warranties, although depending on the environment in which the equipment is used, it can be beneficial to service it more regularly.
For example, a veterinary's practise would need servicing a lot more regularly than your average work office. This is due to small particles in the air, such as animal hairs which get sucked up into the filter. If left, the filter will become partially blocked and less effective as the air conditioning struggles to suck in air from the room. The aim of good maintenance is to also ensure the system performs to its full potential and does not break down.
A lot of people are unaware of the legal implications of owning an air conditioning system too. In July 2007 EC regulation set standard leakage checking requirements for air conditioning equipment containing 3 kg or more of fluorinated greenhouse gases. All systems within scope of this regulation should have an equipment record which includes information on the gas charge. Where the cause of the leakage has been identified, it has to be indicated in the equipment records too. Air Improve staff are certified under the F Gas Regulations and are able to carry out the above to ensure your company complies with the necessary legislations.
When arranging your maintenance it is worth checking the benefits of a contract with the servicing firm. For example, most firms will charge more for a 'one off' visit, rather than an annual maintenance contract. An annual contract (when compared to a 'one off' visit) also saves the hassle of remembering when the equipment is due to be serviced as the air conditioning firm will keep all this information for you, with normally a letter, email or phone call before the scheduled visit to arrange convenient servicing time.
Air Improve work on an annual rolling contract basis and most of our clients have maintenance either once or twice a year. Parts and materials are charged separately. There are other types of maintenance which other firms offer, including a 'fully comprehensive' policy in which you pay an annual fee which includes any potential breakdown callouts, parts and labour. Air Improve have taken the decision to not offer this form of maintenance, for a number of reasons. We find that a lot of our contracts are agreed at time of installation, or shortly after. Most manufacturers provide a 3 year warranty on their equipment which also covers allowances for labour costs, so we feel it would be unfair to charge for something which is already covered.
Air Improve have taken the complication out of our maintenance schedules and offer an annual rolling contract which is transparent. You pay for what you get, we believe this is the best approach and our clients agree too!
Should you require any more information, please feel free to call Air Improve Limited on 01962 841366.
Case Study Written by Ben Rogers, Maintenance Sales Engineer
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F Gas Regulations
On the 1st October 2000 the new EC regulation 2037/2000 on ozone depleting substances (ODS) came into force which affects manufacture and use of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. It is estimated that at least 40% of all refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in use in the UK operates with a fluorocarbon gas called R22 which is one of the gasses being phased out under the above regulation.
One aspect of the EC regulation is commonly referred to as 'F Gas Regulation' and its' principal objective is to prevent refrigerant leakage and so reduce emissions of global warming F Gasses. The regulation states that as of 1st January 2010, it will be against the law to sell or stock pile virgin HCFC refrigerant. And as of 1st January 2015 there will be a complete ban on the use of recycled HCFC gas.
Essentially what this means for you, the consumer, is that should you have a system which is operated by R22 gas, you will only be able to purchase unused R22 gas to recharge your air conditioning until 31st December 2009, after which you will only be able to use recycled R22 gas (i.e. gas taken out of a system). However, this will only last until 31st December 2014, as after this date, it will be impossible to get hold of R22 gas at all!
So what choices do you have, should you have one of these systems? There is a lot of debate at the moment about what is the best course of action to take, however the main options are;
Continued use of recycled R22 gas:
Obviously this option is only going to last until 2015 when the complete outlaw of R22 comes into force. At this point, you would need to consider one of the other options anyway. R22 price is likely to rise in this time too with supplies being harder to get hold of.
Using a 'drop in' refrigerant gas:
This normally requires the system to be flushed out enabling another gas to be used. However, there are questions about the efficiency of using drop ins compared to the original gas it is replacing.
Outright replace the equipment now:
This would tend to be beneficial if your air conditioning equipment is old and in need of attention. Spending money on a system which will require replacement in 2015 is not economical if the amount you plan on spending on it is not a nominal amount.
Retrofitting your existing system:
This is normally where the existing pipework is used and a new system installed, however with a lot of systems requiring different pipe sizes, this is not a common choice.
There are many pro's and cons for each of the options, however there are also many variables to consider which can help you make your decision. For example, the age of your equipment is a key factor, with older equipment more likely to require extra attention and cost in the short term, it may be more economical to cut your losses now and switch to a newer system with new R-410A or R-407C gas. Likewise, it is said that adding a 'drop in' to the system, whilst enabling the use of other gasses, may reduce the efficiency of the system and increase running costs.
Air Improve are advising clients on a case by case basis. However, the common example of false economy at the moment is where we are tasked to replace a large part in an older R22 gas system. This can be quite expensive compared to the alternative of replacing the system now. Otherwise you would be spending large amounts of money now repairing a system you will have to replace in another 6 years maximum!
So should you have any questions about your system, and the affects these changes will have on you and your company, call air Improve on 01962 841366. Alternatively, fill out the enquiry form in the 'Contact us' section.
Case Study Written by Ben Rogers, Maintenance Sales Engineer
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In July 2007 we were approached by Frank Ferrett, of i58 architecture+, about a project Frank was involved with in St Albans. His client, the Vineyard Church, was finding that with the increasing usage of their building, worshipers were suffering from problems of over heating and lack of ventilation and the Church had approached Frank to come up with a solution.
For background, in 2001 the Vineyard Church had purchased an empty industrial unit on the Bricknoll Industrial Estate in St Albans. The premises comprised of a 650m2 factory unit plus associated offices.
To meet their requirements they split the main area in half and constructed function rooms on one side with the other half being their main congregational area. Having settled into their new home they quickly found that with the steady increase in the number of celebrants they were rapidly approaching capacity. In order to provide additional space they decided to build upwards and accordingly a second floor was constructed above the exiting function rooms and in the main worship area, a mezzanine floor with seating was installed.
Whilst the Church was very flexible in their approach and with their demands, it was essential that any proposed solution for their air conditioning and ventilation did not increase the amount of sound the Church made.
In the main worship area a number of different options were considered but it was agreed that by using a combination of below ceiling 4-way blow and "mouth organ" style units, the maximum cooling and air distribution could be achieved. For the balcony area four wall mounted units were installed. The ground floor and balcony units were set up on different control systems so that the air conditioning could be run in the most cost effective way.
With certain budget restrictions the Church was only looking for ventilation for the function rooms and offices however due to careful management of the costs additional air conditioning was supplied to the main ground floor conference room without increasing the overall cost of the project.
Ventilation for the nine internal rooms was achieved by using ceiling mounted panel fans and venting the extracted air out above the various rooms into the ceiling void.
An interesting consequence of the installation of the air conditioning was that once it was up and running the Church soon realised that is was a far more efficient and effective way of heating the main worship area than using the old ceiling mounted gas burner. The gas burner was both noisy and expensive to run and the Church would have to fire it up some hours before a service started and turn it off once the congregation arrived. With the air conditioning they found that within 20 minutes of starting up the system the temperature had achieved a comfortable level without any of the associated noise issues from the gas burner.
The Senior Pastor, Chris lane was delighted with both the quality of the equipment and with the amount of air conditioning they got for their budget and said he would very happily recommend Air Improve to other churches.
Case Study Written by Ian Tait, Sales Engineer
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The Big Bang of 2005!
In October 2005, Air Improve embarked on a project to remove and replace chilled water fancoils, controllers and grilles on two floors at Hemel One, Hemel Hempstead. This was the start of the largest project Air Improve had ever tackled, creating an additional turnover in excess of £2 Million.
In the early hours of December 11th 2005, whilst in the final stages of this project, the neighbouring Buncefield Oil Refinery exploded; causing untold damage to the building, and chaos ensued.
Once the situation was under control, various parties of specialists were invited onto the site to assess the extent of the damage.
My first impression was one of sinking awe, feeling powerless over what destruction surrounded me, followed by anguish as we entered the building with caution, trying to anticipate the unknown, assessing the devastation, not knowing what we might find. I remember thinking to myself how lucky no-one was in the building, or we would be facing a completely different scenario, with hundreds of fatal casualties. I hope never to be in the midst of such catastrophic surroundings again.
A team of professionals was created to manage the disaster recovery.
I acted as Mechanical Adviser and Mechanical Services Project Manager to the professional team and provided a plan for the emergency works to make the building safe, and was then tasked with the testing and resurrection of the mechanical services, so the building could be occupied once again.
During the exclusion period, December 2005 through to March 2006, I was involved in another project to provide the mechanical services in support of the relocation another company of 300 persons that were blast refugees.
This story has a happy ending in that the Hemel One building has re-opened and is being repopulated with the original and new tenants, deciding that this is the best location for their businesses.
Case Study Written by Jeremy Lant, Director
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More Than Just An Air Conditioning Installer
An eminent defence contractor approached Air Improve Limited recently enquiring about air conditioning for their 11,000 sq. ft. water front offices in southern Hampshire. Air Improve provided proposals detailing the use of three different manufacturers as a comparison and the client finally selected a heat recovery Mitsubishi Electric City Multi VRF system.
As part of the client liaison process it was established that the client was not certain regarding the amount of time they wished to remain in the leased premises. The client was undecided whether to move to bigger premises at the lease break clause date in three years time or to remain in the current premises until the lease expiry date which was in 10 years time.
Air Improve suggested that the client may wish to consider approaching the landlord to establish if the landlord would pay for the air conditioning and, if so, how much the rental would increase as a result. The client discovered that the increase in rent over the three years until the break clause was considerably less than the full cost of installing the air conditioning. Thus the client chose the more attractive route of paying an increased rental rather than the greater cost of funding the installation themselves.
Air Improve also helped the landlord by suggesting that the air conditioning was installed as completely separate systems in each of the two office units. In this way, should the properties be let to two individual tenants in future, the landlord would not be faced with the problem of allocating energy costs from the unit providing all the power to the air conditioning throughout both properties or the expense of trying to separate the air conditioning in each property.
The landlord was also pleased to learn that the system qualified for Enhanced Capital Allowances (E.C.A.) permitting the landlord to claim 100% of capital allowances against Corporation Tax in the first year, which is a reasonable cash flow advantage. As Air Improve is an approved Mitsubishi Electric installer they suggested that the manufacturer undertook the final commissioning and the landlord benefited from a 5 year parts and labour warranty.
Air Improve suggested that the computer server room was cooled by a dedicated and separate split air conditioning system isolating the vital cooling of computer servers from the rest of the office cooling. In this way, the server room cooling would not be affected if a fault developed on the main VRF systems. The main systems are timed controlled by one central controller, ensuring that no one individual indoor unit was accidentally left on overnight or over the weekend. Such constraints cannot be applied to computer server room cooling which is required 24 hours per day and 365 days per year.
Case Study Written by Martin Rogers, Director
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Controlled And On Time!
Air Improve were asked to provide an air conditioning and ventilation solution to a local firm in Bordon Hampshire, Redwood Group UK. From the discussions with the client it was decided that a Mitsubishi heat recovery air conditioning system with a combined heat recovery ventilation system would fulfil there requirements. The heat recovery system means that either heating or cooling can be provided to any of the rooms at any time. The air conditioning and ventilation systems have been installed within ten designated offices throughout the building over both ground and first floors.
Our client had a very tight deadline for the completion of the work. They had to vacate their existing premises by the end of 2007 and were moving into the new premises early 2008. We were confident that it was possible to complete the installation within the given time scale and this was a major factor in winning the project.
The heat recovery system was chosen for its ability to provide simultaneous heating and cooling, providing great flexibility in allowing each user to select the required mode to control the temperature within their given room i.e. Heating or Cooling. The use of the heat recovery system saves energy and lowers CO2 emissions by recycling surplus heat generated during the cooling cycle and using it to heat rooms as required and vice versa.
The Ventilation system has also been designed to help reduce emissions and save energy. Within the main supply / extract fan, is a plate heat exchanger this allows the incoming fresh air from outside to be tempered with the expelled warm or cool air from inside. By increasing or decreasing the temperature of the incoming air, the air conditioning system does not have to work as hard to maintain a constant temperature within all the rooms and fresh air is supplied into the building.
All of the air-conditioned rooms had a wall mounted controller installed to provide localised control over their given air conditioning unit. The controller allows the user to choose between heating and cooling and to set the desired temperatures as required.
A master controller was also installed to provide overall control of the system. The master controller has the capabilities to remotely operate all the equipment at set times of the day to the clients wishes. It starts the equipment running in the morning to warm up the offices before the staff arrive, throughout specific times of the day the ventilation will start up to provide fresh air into the building and the controller will switch off all the equipment in the evening to prevent any waste of energy. The master controller constantly monitors the operation of all the internal fan coils throughout the day, notifying the user if any faults occur and indicating where it has occurred.
Once the installation was complete, the system was commissioned by the manufacture giving the client a five year guaranty for all of the equipment installed. The client was extremely happy with the final installation of both systems and they were impressed with the time scale in which the installation was fully completed.
Case Study Written by Tom Hall, Sales Engineer
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Legionnaires' Disease: An Employers Guide
Premises with water services and wet cooling systems are at risk of harbouring legionella, a bug that's common in the environment. But arm yourself with the facts, and you, your staff and the public will be safe.
Where are legionella bacteria found?
Legionella bacteria are common in natural water courses such as rivers and ponds. Since legionella are widespread in the environment, they may contaminate and grow in other water systems such as cooling towers and hot and cold water services.
They survive low temperatures and thrive at temperatures between 20-45 deg C if the conditions are right, for example, if a supply of nutrients is present such as rust, sludge, scale, algae and other bacteria. They are killed by higher temperatures.
What are my duties under the law?
Under general health and safety law, you have to consider the risks from legionella that may affect your staff or members of the public, and take suitable precautions. As an employer or a person in control of the premises you must:
Identify and assess sources of risk;
Prepare a scheme (or course of action) for preventing or controlling the risk;
Implement and manage the scheme – appointing a person to be responsible, sometimes referred to as the 'responsible person';
Keep records and check that what has been done is effective; and
If appropriate, notify the local authority that you have a cooling tower on-site (see 'other duties').
If a person working under your control and direction is treated as self-employed for tax and national insurance purposes, they may nevertheless be your employee for health and safety purposes. You may need therefore to take appropriate action to protect them.
How do I assess the risk?
The risk assessment is your responsibility as the employer or person in control of the premises. You may be able to carry out the assessment yourself but, if not, you should call on help and advice from within your own organisation or, if this is not available, from outside sources such as consultancies.
You need to find out if your water systems (including the equipment associated with the system, which includes pumps, heat exchangers and showers among other items) are likely to create a risk.
As yourself the following:
Are conditions present which will encourage bacteria to multiply? For example, is the water temperature between 20-45 deg C?
Is it possible that water droplets will be produced and, if so, could they be dispersed over a wide area? For example, consider showers and aerosols from cooling towers.
Is it likely that anyone particularly susceptible will come into contact with the contaminated water droplets?
Which systems present the greatest risk?
Cooling towers, evaporative condensers and hot and cold water systems have been associated with outbreaks. Other potential sources where precautions might be needed include humidifiers and spa baths.
If you decide that the risks are insignificant, your assessment is complete. You need take no further action other than to review the assessment periodically in case anything changes in your system.
How do I prevent or control an outbreak?
If a risk is identified which cannot be prevented, you must introduce proper controls.
Risks from legionella in water systems can be controlled but careful planning, a successful management policy, competent staff and attention to proper control strategies are all essential.
You should consider whether you can prevent the risk of legionella in the first place by looking at the type of water system you need. For example, is it possible to replace a wet cooling tower with a dry air cooled system?
You need to prepare a written scheme which sets out how you intend to control the risk from legionella. You should describe:
Your system – an up-to-date plan or schematic diagrams are sufficient;
Who is responsible for carrying out the assessment and managing its implementation;
The safe and correct operation of your system;
What control methods and other precautions you will be using; and
What checks will be carried out on the control scheme and how often.
The key point is to design, maintain and operate your water services under conditions which prevent or control the growth and multiplication of legionella.
Ensure that the release of water spray is properly controlled;
Avoid water temperatures and conditions that favour the growth of legionella and other micro-organisms;
Ensure water cannot stagnate anywhere in the system by keeping pipe lengths as short as possible or by removing redundant pipework;
Avoid materials that encourage the growth of legionella;
Keep the system and the water in it clean;
Treat water to either kill legionella (and other micro-organisms) or limit their ability to grow.
What records to I need to keep?
If you employ five or more people you must record the significant findings of your risk assessment. This means writing down the significant findings of the assessment and details of any monitoring or checking carried out.
If you have fewer than five employees you do not need to write anything down, although it is useful to keep a written record of what you have done.
Where can I find out more?
For more technical guidance you should consult the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) Legionnaires; disease, which is available on the Health and Safety Executive website as a free download.
Case Study Written by Elaine Kirby, Director
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