Buildings with the most advanced climate technology in the world

With building designs across the world becoming increasingly more complex, it makes sense that they would need to use climate control technology to stay at a comfortable temperature – after all, the world’s tallest building (The Burj Khalifa) is situated in the middle of the desert! How do these buildings design for efficiency with energy conservation in mind and what new building tech can we expect to see in the next few years? Leading air conditioning unit supplier Daikin investigate…

1. Seaside viewing

The British Airways i360 tower gives tourists a spectacular view of the coastline. As the world’s tallest moving observation tower, this building set a new challenge for climate control — the structure houses a restaurant, a shop, conference rooms, exhibition spaces, wedding venues, and of course, a 360° panoramic view in its moving 94-ton pod.

The building is supplied with renewable heat energy from Daikin VRV systems. A constant supply of fresh air is circulated by heat recovery ventilation units throughout the building — this is crucial for reducing the demand on the air conditioning units that need to balance the indoor temperature with a significantly different outside temperature.

Due to the seaside location of this tower, the building has a few special requirements. One, the units need to be out of sight. Two, they need to be able to withstand the corrosive nature of salty sea air! Therefore, the VRV IV outdoor units have been installed out of sight and are treated with a specialist factory-applied Blygold coating, to protect them from the salt in the air. The result is an energy-efficient, streamlined, and sea-air-ready HVAC system that supports this complex and unique building.

White and Grey Concrete Tower Beside Body of Water

2. Keeping cool

Standing at a massive 2,716 feet tall the Burj Khalifa is the most famous building on our list. Summer months in Dubai can see temperatures soar as high as 41°C. Keeping a tower this tall cool is a task in and of itself, let alone with the surrounding temperature being so extreme. So, how do they do it?

Advanced cooling tech helps this building to stay cool in the harsh heat of the Dubai desert. Primarily, ice-chilled water is used to cool the building, and this is supplied by three plants. During off-peak hours, the central water plant creates an ice slurry that makes the water colder than a chiller could manage. This chilly water is sent through the tower in a series of pipes to heat exchangers at three different levels. Once the cold water has cooled the air for the air conditioning unit to use, it is sent back down to the central water plant again.

Ice is extremely useful when used in building design. Firstly, it is better for the environment, as it allows the tower to make savings on energy use. Secondly, it reduces the amount of space needed to dedicate to cooling equipment. Interestingly, the air conditioning system had to be gradually activated over a week-long period. This was to prevent pockets of warm air from forming in the building. To combat overheating, the tower also uses air-cooler chiller systems to support the data centres.

3. Eco-design

The Amazon offices in Seattle USA are designed with eco-efficiency firmly in mind.  The building is heated by capturing the warm air produced by data centres — a great way to re-use waste for a key purpose! Surprisingly, Amazon do not actually own the data centres here. The heat is collected from the Westin building across the street from their offices. It’s a two-fold victory, as it helps Amazon to save energy and gives Westin a good way of sustainably dealing with waste heat.

The hot water system is similarly unique. Heated water travels through pipes leading from the data centres to a central Amazon plant, before being put through heat-reclaiming chillers. This is then used to supply the office’s heating needs, and the now-cold water is sent back to Westin to help cool their data centres. Amazon is set to save 65 million pounds of coal’s worth of CO2 emissions over 25 years with this approach.

4. The future of climate control technology

Climate control should be the top priority for building design in 2019. The Independent reported on another ambitious project blossoming in Dubai — the world’s largest shopping centre. But calling it a shopping centre seems a little unfair; the project intends to cover 48 million square feet, making it a shopping city.

As time goes on, we will continue to see natural and technological solutions for both heating and cooling within our buildings. The world’s structures are only going to get more complex, so it will be interesting to see how requirements like heating and cooling are addressed in such builds.

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