Top 5 Things Property Developers and Builders Should Look For in an Air Conditioning System

Considerations for Cooling Solutions

Demand for air conditioning in Southeast Asia has grown rapidly in recent years, driven by urbanisation and exacerbated by the high heat and humidity in the region. Urban populations are set to grow by 2.5 billion worldwide by 2050, with 90 percent of this increase coming from Africa and Asia, and this is expected to drive urban air conditioning use.

Research has shown optimal air conditioning temperature to have significant impacts in improving worker productivity in offices, while other studies have shown that improved indoor environmental quality doubled occupants’ cognitive function test scores. As such, property developers and builders need to cater to the overall comfort and convenience of building occupants when considering the type of cooling solution to use.

There are 5 critical factors that should be at the forefront of any developer decision about air conditioning in Southeast Asia: energy efficiency, footprint, reliability, cooling capacity and control.

The Top 5 Air Conditioning Priorities

Eco-Business Research has reported that electricity demand in Southeast Asia is set to double in the next 20 years, with 40% of this increase driven by heating, ventilation and air conditioning. This makes energy efficiency improvements especially attractive to developers in the region, as they yield considerable energy savings over time.

Property developers also aim to minimise the footprint of building systems, and cooling solutions are no exception. Smaller the outdoor units provide more useable Gross Floor Area (GFA). Every square foot freed up on the rooftop or ledge means more unobstructed views and more room for amenities such as garden features. By using a VRF system instead of a chiller solution, developers can eliminate the need for a chiller plant room, which further increases GFA.

No matter how efficiently the air conditioning system operates, it also needs to be reliable and provide significant uptime. The outdoor unit has to operate in the tropical temperatures of the Southeast Asian environment with minimal downtime. In addition, if a system does fail, diagnostic tools play an important part in ensuring that technicians can quickly troubleshoot issues.

The ideal cooling solution should have sufficient cooling capacity at full load to handle the sweltering heat of the day*. Urban heat island intensity, an index used to indicate urban warming trends by comparing urban and rural temperatures, has been shown to have a positive relationship with population in Asian cities. In other words, as cities grow, so do their air conditioning demands, hence the need for higher cooling capacity in buildings.

Developers also expect an air conditioner to offer a fine degree of control and responsiveness. The air conditioning system has to be intelligent enough to account for different cooling needs throughout the day. Some indoor zones may have more occupants and require more cooling than others, and the system must be able to respond to changing outdoor temperatures as the weather shifts.

An Intelligent VRF Solution for Tropical Climates

Toshiba developed the SMMS-7 VRF to address all of the top concerns of property developers and builders. The SMMS-7 represents the 7th generation of Toshiba’s variable refrigerant flow Super Modular Multi System, meeting the unique demands of tropical markets.

The SMMS-7 VRF is engineered for cooling efficiency by using a heat exchanger that is longer with fewer paths and branches. The fundamental working principle of the twin rotary compressor of the SMMS-7 not only meets the maximum cooling load requirements of a building efficiently; it also uses less energy to satisfy part-load conditions by varying the compression and resulting refrigerant pressure.

The accumulator of the SMMS-7 has been designed for a smaller form factor, with 24% footprint reduction compared with the previous generation VRF. The new accumulator has a unidirectional valve to limit liquid refrigerant return, and its twin rotary compressor delivers more cooling capacity even with the reduced footprint.

Toshiba designed the SMMS-7 for improved reliability and uptime, with the outdoor unit capable of operating in temperatures up to 52℃. The built-in oil level management system ensures that oil is returned to the compressor through the oil return circuit whenever an oil level drop is detected. The SMMS-7 is also built for easy maintenance and troubleshooting. A technician can tap into the system’s performance data remotely using the Wave Tool mobile app, reducing the need to physically open the outdoor unit.

Looking Toward Future Needs

The SMMS-7 can meet the cooling capacity needs of a wide range of building designs. The SMMS-7 has a diversity factor of up to 200% and supports modular configuration to provide up to 60HP per system.

Toshiba’s intelligent VRF maintains precise control of refrigerant distribution in the indoor units by calculating the volume and temperature of refrigerant required at each point to achieve an accurate indoor temperature in each zone. The outdoor unit (ODU)responds to cooling requirements by only compressing as much refrigerant as is needed to achieve the cooling capacity of all the indoor units.

By using the SMMS-7, property developers have an easy way forward in solving the issues of energy efficiency, footprint, reliability, cooling capacity and control for medium-size buildings. Developers also have the option of a phased installation of Toshiba’s VRF to progressively replace existing systems. Toshiba’s intelligent VRF solution also assists in reducing environmental impact, an issue of increasing importance as urbanization continues to contribute to global warming. If climate change continues unchecked, increasing temperatures in Southeast Asia could lower labour productivity as much as 11%-27% by 2080. Energy-efficient air conditioners will play an important role in reducing regional electricity demand and carbon emissions to help avert this crisis.

*Full load estimations factor both internal and external heat sources, including people, lights, electrical devices, building operation schedules, solar loads, transmission, windows, wall material and infiltration, in addition to any safety factors that would be considered.

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