Residential HVAC Design
We offer HVAC design modeling services and use the latest design software, we provide builders and home owners with the most accurate and comfort focused HVAC designs.
Correct HVAC design is a critical part of achieving efficiency and comfort in any home. Calculating the correct load and duct/pipe sizes will make sure the HVAC system provides the right amount of heat or cooling when and where it is needed and the lowest cost and the lowest energy usage levels. This translates into higher energy efficiency throughout the house.
Designing the best HVAC system configurations requires calculating the air flow rates so that the right amount of hot and cold air is delivered to each room of the house. This is never the case if all of the duct work is the same size or if the system is designed without taking all of the other features of the home into consideration.
Whether installing new build HVAC equipment, replacing an old inefficient HVAC system, or adding new equipment to an existing system, each house is different. The configuration of the HVAC system changes based on the amount of insulation, type and number of windows, the orientation of the house and the quality of air sealing. In order to operate at peak efficiency, all of these individual characteristics must be taken into consideration.
Accurate load circulations and an expertly designed and commissioned HVAC system will prevent wasted money and energy. Most typical HVAC installations are not designed with efficiency as the goal. The average installer is trying to get in and out in the shortest amount of time and by using the least complicated duct work they can get away with. This often means the homeowner is not going to maximize the HVAC system’s efficiency and will be throwing money away.
- Hydronic Design
We offer hydronic mechanical system designs that are standalone or hybrid systems that tie hydronic heating into domestic hot water systems by using a combi boiler. This use of one boiler for two systems cuts down on space usage and initial equipment cost.
Hydronic systems provide the ultimate in comfort, but only if they are designed properly: poorly designed hydronic systems lead to uncomfortable temperature swings for the occupants as well as reduced energy efficiency.
Properly designed and installed hydronic mechanical systems provide improved comfort, easy controllability, and efficient energy performance over forced air heating systems. When hydronic systems are combined with forced air, buildings achieve air-conditioning, zoned heating control, filtration and humidity control.
We design hydronic systems to fit your project’s needs for maximum value and performance, and it can also be included as an all-building HVAC design. We also design snow and ice melt systems to provide safe ice-free entrances to buildings and parkades. Acacia Engineering designed hydronic and hybrid mechanical systems provide the ultimate in energy efficiency and building comfort.
We can provide a ventilation system that utilizes the proper controls and energy savings options, such as energy recovery systems and economizers, to reduce operating costs.
Forced Air System Design
Used with a heat gain / loss calculation, a complete forced air ducted system design will size a system so that each space will not only get the precise heating and cooling required, but will also do so quietly using the least amount of space and material. Properly sizing the forced air system also helps to ensure you aren’t wasting your money on equipment that has more capacity than you need or wasting your space by installing ductwork larger than required. We can also design allowances for potential future expansion as required.
High Velocity System Design
High Velocity HVAC systems, also known as Small Duct High Velocity (SDHV), are basically heating and cooling systems that are designed to fit into buildings / houses that have space constraints or the use of bulkheads and duct chases are not desired.
Typically, a high velocity system consists of a fan coil (blower) unit complete with a heating coil and/or a cooling coil, a supply plenum, 2” diameter supply branch ducts (with velocities of over 1000 ft per minute), return box (plenum) and grilles/nozzles for the distribution of the tempered air to the spaces within the structure.
The fan coil unit is the heart of the system and is designed to fit into tight spaces. The spaces may be unconditioned such as the attic, garage or crawl space or conditioned such as the basement, a closet or utility room. The fan coil can be either a horizontal unit or a vertical unit to fit the space restrictions of the area that it is located in.
The supply plenum, also sized smaller than typical to maintain velocities, is to be complete with acoustic insulation for noise attenuation.
The 2” dia. branch ducts are flexible ducts, complete with insulation for sound attenuation and can be fed through wall spaces and around obstacles to the supply grille location.
The supply grilles are to be sized to provide adequate throw as well as low enough velocity to ensure occupant comfort of the space.
The return air is commonly picked up at one location into the return box and is then ducted to the fan coil unit through an insulated duct for noise attenuation.
An SDHV system is generally used with an HRV/ERV that preheats the fresh air prior to mixing with the return air going to the fan coil unit. SDHV systems can be used in combination with hydronic heating as a ventilation / air conditioning system or as a stand-alone heating / air conditioning system.
It should be noted that a boiler is required for heating, and a remote condensing unit is required for air conditioning (cooling).
9.36 Energy Code Compliance
As of November 2016, the Alberta Building Code has adopted section 9.36, Energy Efficiency, requiring stricter construction practices of new homes to ensure higher energy efficiency levels are met. The code applies to all residential new construction and major renovations and additions. There are three paths to compliance:
- The Prescriptive Compliance Pathway uses a checklist approach to ensure that minimum requirements in the energy code are met. This method is the most straightforward, as energy efficiency requirements are listed by building component, including mechanical/ventilation requirements and minimum effective R-values for all wall, ceiling and foundation assemblies. The Prescriptive Path can net significant savings to high volume home builders that use consistent construction specifications.
- The Trade-off Path allows more flexibility in the design as it allows you to trade elements within the above ground building envelope to demonstrate an equivalent level of performance without meeting every prescriptive requirement found in 9.36.2. The Trade-Off path requires a calculation to demonstrate that while the proposed design does not exactly meet the prescriptive requirements, the amount of energy consumed will be the same or less than would be consumed by following strict prescriptive compliance.
- The Performance Compliance Pathway compares the modeled energy consumption of the proposed house to the modeled energy consumption of an identical reference house. The proposed house is in compliance if its modeled energy consumption is lower than or equal to that of the Code Reference house. Once construction of the house is complete, a blower door test is performed and a Natural Resources Canada EnerGuide Rating System label is issued.
- The EnerGuide Rating System for New Homes Compliance offers the same design flexibility as the Performance Path but also includes EnerGuide labelling. A blower door test must be completed for all homes and the home’s rating must be minimum 5% better than a typical new home.
To complete a 9.36 performance model, we will require the following:
- House plans
- Equipment specifications including the following:
- Window details
- Mechanical systems (domestic hot water, ventilation, heating system)
- Wall construction type
- Orientation of the house
- Foundation construction details
- Roof construction details
- Details of all other building envelope components such as exposed floors, cantilevers, vaulted ceilings, etc.
Contact us today to find out which compliance path best fits your needs.
Commissioning & Problem Solving
The latest building regulations emphasize the importance of commissioning a heating system that is compliant with the regulations, is energy efficient and cost-effective. Unless commissioning is completed correctly, the chances are the system will not perform to its design specification.
Because forced-air heating and cooling systems are assembled on site from multiple parts, there are many ways for installers to make mistakes. Researchers have repeatedly shown that a high percentage of residential forced-air systems have major problems, including duct systems that are poorly designed, poorly located, and leaky.
The classic solution to these problems, in addition to the obvious step of better duct system design, is to insist on a more rigorous commissioning process. Commissioning refers to the process of testing and adjusting installed equipment to be sure that it performs in accordance with the manufacturer’s specs and the designer’s intent.
Acacia Engineering’s HRAI certified RASDT & RHDT energy consultants can help you solve and prevent a host of problems that will reduce the efficiency of an HVAC system.
Geothermal/GeoExchange System Design
The warm earth and groundwater below the surface provide a free, renewable source of energy for as long as the sun continues to shine. The earth, under an average residential lot, can easily provide enough free energy to heat and cool the home built on it.
The free energy has only to be moved from the ground into your home. This is done either by pumping water from a well (open loop) or by pumping a heat transfer fluid through a horizontal or vertical circuit of underground piping (closed loop). The fluid, called the heat transfer fluid, absorbs the heat in the groundwater or soil and transfers it to the heat pump. The heat absorbed by the fluid from the solar-heated ground is extracted from it by the heat pump, and the now-chilled fluid is circulated through a heat exchanger over and over again to extract more heat from the earth.
If your home is located near a suitable pond or lake, you can use a Geo- Exchange System (GXS) to draw on this excellent source of free energy.
Burying a loop in the ground around your home is like owning your own oil well, but instead of pumping oil from an underground pool and burning it to create heat (and greenhouse gases), you tap into clean energy that will be there for as long as there is a sun.
More than two-thirds of the energy delivered to your home by a GXS is renewable solar energy stored in the ground. This is great for your wallet because it is free energy. It is also good for the environment because there are virtually no toxic emissions. Each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity used to operate a GXS draws more than 3 kWh of free, renewable energy from the ground.
How much heat does your home lose? Calculating its heat loss is the foundation on which your GXS design is built. The care taken in the construction of your home determines how much heat escapes through the cracks around its windows and doors, and how well its insulation is installed. The direction your windows face determines how much solar energy they let into the house. The heat loss calculation, therefore, determines the size of GXS you need.
HOT2000 Energy Modelling
The HOT2000 building energy simulation tool is the most current reference calculation program for the EnerGuide New Housing Program and the basis for government policy work in energy efficiency in Canadian housing and building codes.
Our designers can:
- Forecast energy consumption for your residential construction projects more accurately than ever before
- Project energy costs and performance of natural gas, electric, propane, oil, and wood heating equipment
- Check to make sure your low-rise residential designs comply with energy regulations before you start to build
- Calculate thermal resistance of envelope components, including thermal bridging of construction materials
- Improve the energy efficiency of your building designs for better cost-control and materials use
- Predict and control natural, temperature and wind-induced air infiltration to reduce your clients’ energy bills
- Exploit the potential of passive solar heating to increase the energy performance of your buildings
- Plan for adequate interior ventilation for good indoor air quality and superior comfort.
- Estimate energy requirements for space heating and cooling, water heating, lighting, and appliances at the design stage
RETScreen® International is a clean energy awareness, decision-support and capacity building tool. This standardized and integrated clean energy project analysis software can be used worldwide to evaluate the energy production, life-cycle costs and greenhouse gas emission reductions for various types of energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies (RETs).
RETScreen modeling can be used to evaluate any one of or any combination of the following applications: power, heating, cooling, single buildings or multiple buildings, industrial processes, communities, district heating and district cooling. Further, it permits analysis with a wide range of renewable and non-renewable fuels (which can be used in parallel), including landfill gas, biomass, bagasse, biodiesel, hydrogen, natural gas, oil/diesel, coal, municipal waste, etc. Finally, these fuels can be evaluated using multiple types of power, heating and/or cooling equipment, including reciprocating engines, gas turbines, gas turbine – combined cycle, steam turbines, geothermal systems, fuel cells, wind turbines, hydro turbines, photovoltaic modules, boilers, heat pumps, biomass systems, heaters, furnaces, compressors, absorption chillers, etc., all working under various operating conditions (baseload, intermediate load and/or peak load).
RETScreen modeling is used to help the user estimate the greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential of the proposed project. Our team can help you estimate the sensitivity of important financial indicators in relation to key technical and financial parameters to help optimize the project from an energy use and cost standpoint.
Infrared Thermography is a technique that uses specialized imaging equipment to create visual images of heat. This is especially useful to determine the energy efficiency of a building and to detect problems that cause heat and energy loss.
What does Thermography show?
- An infrared camera detects heat being emitted from the surface of any object. Thermography is a very effective way to see areas of missing or low insulation, moisture intrusion and to find the source of uncomfortable areas in your home due to air leakage.
Will Thermography damage my house?
- Walls and ceilings are examined in a non-invasive and non-destructive way to discover where heat loss or moisture build-up is occurring. No holes have to be drilled to get a reasonable impression of what is happening within the building structure.
Why should I use Acacia Engineering as my Thermography testing provider?
- Combining infrared Thermography with other techniques can produce better results. Using a blower door to create air pressure changes in the building is the only effective way to look for air leakage which can be a major reason for heat loss and moisture problems. We are one of the few local companies that combine the infrared camera and a blower door during a Thermography evaluation to give the best information. Our trained infrared technician uses a FLIR infrared camera specifically designed for building applications. The blower door and other tools such as moisture meters are used depending on the problem being investigated.
When should I schedule my appointment?
- For most building problems, the best time to image is during the colder months when there is a significant difference between inside and outside temperatures, which makes for clear and crisp images. During the warmer months, Thermography is more effectively performed at night when temperatures naturally drop.
What does Thermography cost?
- We offer different packages to fit individual situations and needs. We are able to offer the service in combination with the EnerGuide evaluation or as a standalone service. Prices will vary according to individual requirements and desired tests.
EnerGuide Energy Assessments
What is an EnerGuide Rating?
An EnerGuide Rating and Label demonstrate the energy performance of your home. It estimates the net amount of energy a home consumes in a year. Our energy advisors produce a rating by collecting house information during an on-site evaluation and entering the data into Natural Resources Canada’s energy simulation software, HOT2000. The calculation uses standard operating conditions to ensure the rating focuses on the house rather than the occupants’ behaviours.
An EnerGuide evaluation can help you make informed decisions when operating, renovating or purchasing a home. An evaluation is the first step to help you better understand your home’s energy usage so you can make the best energy efficiency choices to save on utility costs and improve the comfort of your home.
Planning to renovate? An evaluation will help you make informed decisions on which upgrades work best for your home, how to prioritize them and which upgrades will save you most on energy costs. There is no obligation to undertake the recommended upgrades, our advisors simply provide a non-biased consulting service that provides you with the best information on how to increase the energy efficiency and comfort of your home.
Purchasing a home? Look for the EnerGuide label on the electrical panel to get a snapshot of the home’s energy performance.
What is included in an EnerGuide evaluation?
During the on-site evaluation, our advisors will collect the following information:
- A complete review of the building envelope (windows, doors, ceilings, walls, foundation)
- Visual inspection and measurement to determine surface area and insulation levels
- A complete review of mechanical systems (heating system, air conditioning system, ventilation system, and domestic hot water)
- Blower door test
- Depressurization test where required (combustion spillage)
- Measurement of air changes per hour at 50 Pa
- Location of major air leakage areas
- Compared to a new home built to 2010 NBC National Building Code
- Individual recommended upgrades with associated potential energy savings
- ERS certified label for your home as it currently stands
- Intensity rating of your home energy modelling of all components to determine the energy efficiency of your home
What will you receive from an EnerGuide evaluation?Our advisors will provide you with detailed information about your home’s energy performance and will consult with you which retrofit options are best for reducing your energy consumption. You will receive the following after the evaluation:
- An EnerGuide rating label that shows the rated energy consumption of your home in GJ/year per square metre
- A detailed Homeowner Information report that includes information about your home’s current energy use
- A Renovation Upgrade Report that includes a customized roadmap that will help you make decisions about which renovation options save the most energy and money and which upgrades improve the overall comfort of your home.
If you are planning energy efficiency improvements, a follow-up evaluation may be required if you wish to use the revised and improved EnerGuide rating to demonstrate how the upgrades have increased your home’s energy performance. This may be particularly useful when selling your home. A follow-up evaluation may also be required for available rebates on energy efficient upgrades.
We currently serve the following areas: Calgary and surrounding area, Edmonton and surrounding area, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Vancouver Island.
Contact us for pricing, available rebates, and to schedule an appointment.
*EnerGuide and HOT2000 are official marks of Natural Resources Canada.
#514, 3208 8 Avenue NE