Building decarbonisation through sustainable climate control

Decarbonisation of the built environment is now essential if we are to reach net zero by 2050. Matteo Dall’Ombra, product manager commercial at Daikin, explains how advances in climate control technology, including Daikin’s VRV 5 Heat Recovery solution, can help achieve these goals

As the UK continues its drive towards greener buildings, all aspects of construction must be considered through the lens of carbon reduction. At Daikin we have put our commitment to the natural environment at the top of the agenda and have sought to innovate and develop products that help solve the issues we are facing as an industry.

VRV 5 Heat Recovery: a sustainability champion

It was this commitment to sustainability that led to the creation of the innovative VRV 5 Heat Recovery. VRV 5 Heat Recovery ensures maximum comfort and efficiency while significantly reducing a building’s environmental footprint. Its intelligent, compact and responsive design makes for flexible and easy installation in any commercial building.

The Daikin VRV 5 Heat Recovery solution was purpose-designed to decarbonise buildings by reducing the direct and indirect CO2 equivalent impact. The flexible heat pump technology can be easily adapted to fit any building while cutting-edge technology and smart energy management provide comfort with accurate control.

Daikin VRV 5 Heat Recovery

Daikin has focussed on maximising operational efficiency in real life conditions. The VRV5 system is designed to be more sustainable over its entire lifecycle, reducing the indirect CO2 equivalent impact thanks to a highly effective 3-pipe heat recovery design and market-leading seasonal efficiency with high ηs,c values of up to 298.3%.

Additionally, the system is specifically built for the lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerant R32, greatly reducing the potential direct CO2 equivalent impact. R32 has a GWP that is 68% less than R410A and carries heat more effectively allowing the VRV5 Heat Recovery unit to have a 15% smaller refrigerant charge. This means that a 71% GWP reduction has been achieved across the entire system.

R-32 is also a single component refrigerant, which makes it easy to recover and recycle, supporting the circular economy in refrigerants. The embodied carbon is also a key consideration. Daikin has reduced this by up to 53% compared to the previous generations of systems and offers TM65 documentation on a wide range of products. These factors mean the VRV5 Heat Recovery is ideal for any project that is aiming for BREEAM, LEED or WELL accreditation.

In addition to the sustainability benefits, Daikin VRV5 systems incorporate Shîrudo Technology, which ensures the safe deployment of refrigerants, even in small rooms and spaces. Shîrudo Technology comprises a number of factory-integrated refrigerant control measures, and additional safety features including refrigerant leak detection. For example, the branch selector boxes, which enable the three-pipe DX system to deliver heating and cooling simultaneously to different branches, incorporate automatic shutoff valves for each branch to prevent loss of refrigerant.

The VRV5 Heat Recovery system launched to the UK market in September 2022 and has already been utilised on a range of projects. These include an installation at the University of Lincoln and its extensive use at the BBC Earth Experience. These project examples demonstrate the unique capabilities of the system, and how it can significantly reduce the environmental footprint of a building.

Case study: University of Lincoln

The University of Lincoln installed VRV5 Heat Recovery in its student village last year, the UK debut for the system. The decision underlines the university’s commitment to environmental improvement and is a significant move towards its net-zero targets.

The university’s engineering manager Jason Devlin, himself an experienced refrigeration and heating engineer, wanted to future-proof the building. He felt that it was important to implement a sustainable solution rather than replace the existing R410A system like-for-like.

This was important not just for the building’s environmental footprint, but its occupants too. With many of the students passionate about the need to protect the environment, it was important for the Estates Department to show that the university shared this concern for the environment. As such the team wanted to install the most energy-efficient equipment possible.

The full installation included Daikin VRV5 Heat Recovery, VAM Heat Recovery ventilation Fully Flat cassettes and Roundflow cassettes indoors and the i-Touch Manager and Madoka controllers. The system needed to service three administrative departments in the building – one on the ground floor and two upstairs – in mostly open-plan spaces but with some separate rooms. The new system was installed over three weeks in early September 2022, by Airco Refrigeration and Air Conditioning.

The feedback has been excellent, with the staff in the three departments that share the building all remarking how content they are with the new system. It is also considerably quieter than the original – the VAM units are rated at 350m3/hr with a sound power of just 51dB. The heat recovery aspect of the VRV5 and VAM systems improves overall performance and reduces operating costs by using outgoing waste energy to temper incoming refrigerant and airflows.

University of Lincoln engineering manager Jason Devlin

Case study: BBC Earth Experience

In another ground-breaking project, Daikin UK is sponsoring and providing climate control systems for the venue for the spectacular BBC Earth Experience. This unique attraction opened in Earl’s Court on 30th March 2023 and will remain in place for the next two years.

The BBC Earth Experience is housed in the ‘The Daikin Centre’, a purpose-built demountable venue. The Daikin Centre has been designed by Moon Eye Productions to have the lowest possible carbon footprint. The installation of Daikin’s low-carbon climate control systems, including VRV 5 Heat Recovery is helping to achieve this objective while delivering the highest level of comfort and refined air quality inside the building.

Nine customised air handling units, which are built in Britain, were installed in the building, offering highly flexible ventilation. The units serve different zones throughout the Daikin Centre, ensuring maximum visitor comfort, and a regulated source of fresh, healthy air. The VRV 5 Heat Recovery system was chosen for the front-of-house area, first-floor educational spaces and staff areas due to its superior indoor climate control with a minimal carbon footprint.

Installation and maintenance was also a consideration. The VRV 5 Heat Recovery has been completely redesigned for faster installation and easier servicing. It offers an all-in-one box solution without any requirement for field-supplied equipment. The team at Zircon AC Group, who installed the system at The Daikin Centre, found it to be a seamless and trouble-free install.

VRV 5 Heat Recovery delivers on comfort and efficiency while taking significant steps towards decarbonising buildings. Its compact and responsive design allows for flexible installation in any commercial building.

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