High-Performance Energy Recovery In Climates Requiring Dehumidification: Maximizing the Energy & Financial Benefits for Both New Construction and Retrofit Projects

Tom McGee, Konvekta USA Inc.

Dehumidification requirements provide a unique opportunity to utilize a high-performance energy recovery system design which maximizes the energy savings benefit, while also providing an ability to optimize the design of the central heating and cooling plants which support the facility. The option of adding an energy recovery coil downstream of the cooling coil, can significantly reduce the summer reheat requirement, in addition to minimizing the peak cooling demand. This presentation highlights the operational, energy and financial outcomes which can be achieved through the application of a high-performance energy recovery system in applications requiring dehumidification. The Initial capital savings associated with reduced central heating and cooling capacity requirements, can result in a high-performance energy recovery option which not only provides optimal energy savings over the life of the system, but is also cash flow positive from day one. An additional benefit of incorporating high-performance energy recovery into the design, not often thought about, is the potential of reducing project design and construction timelines. Utilizing the output of advanced energy modeling software, the designer is able to determine with a high degree of confidence the actual heating and cooling plant requirements, then incorporate the requirements into the mechanical equipment selections and the design of building infrastructure needed to support the mechanical function. This initial assessment can provide the framework necessary to avoid the need to upsize, modify or replace the following elements: Cooling tower capacity Chilled or hot water underground piping Electric or gas utilities Refrigerant exhaust systems Any or all of the above referenced items generally have an impact on the initial capital requirements, and additionally can significantly effect design, permit and construction timelines. A key to achieving high rates of effectiveness (50-90%) and overall annual energy savings from an energy recovery system, is an ability to maximize the number of hours of beneficial operation. The presentation provides insight into how a design which accommodates a dehumidification requirement, is able to provide significant energy savings during periods when traditional energy systems provide no net benefit. Dehumidification applications can be challenging in any climate where environmentally responsible construction is a goal. The advantages of high-performance energy recovery systems directly correlate to carbon reduction benefits, while helping to support sustainable development standards such as LEED or Energy Star.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how is a high-performance energy recovery system different from a conventional energy recovery design;
  • Identify how the selection of a high performance energy recovery system can result in a lower initial capital costs;
  • Describe why is it important to consider energy recovery options early in the design-development process; and
  • Analyze the carbon reduction impact of a high performance energy recovery system design, in regions where the carbon content of the electricity is high.


Tom McGee is an Account Manager for Konvekta USA, where his focus is on the design, development and optimization of high performance energy recovery systems. He was previously the Energy Manager at the University of Denver for 9 years, where his responsibilities included all aspects of HVAC and building automation infrastructure. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Southern Illinois University, and has more than 30 years of experience in the HVAC industry.


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