Ventilation control systems: Enhancing the energy efficiency and profitability of your garage

Published on: 
5 Sep 2018
Author: 
Trevyr Meade

Want to learn how the installation of ventilation control systems can enhance the efficiency and profitability of your garage? We’ve got the inside scoop on the role these systems play in maximizing a parking facility’s operational efficiencies—which is better for your bottom line, your customers and the environment.

Vehicles with internal combustion engines produce emissions that are harmful to human health and must be mitigated with either natural or mechanical ventilation. Parksmart equips parking facility owners and operators with a blueprint for how to use energy-efficient ventilation control systems that help to significantly reduce energy consumption in enclosed parking structures while maintaining or exceeding existing garage air quality standards.

Discover how upgrading your ventilation system can boost the energy efficiency of your garage while realizing a strong ROI with this Q&A with Frank Nagle of Nagle Energy Solutions (NES).

1. With all of the priorities garage owners must juggle, why should they take time to focus on their garage’s ventilation system?

It’s expensive to do otherwise. NES has accrued 10-plus years of M&V data reflecting that approximately two-thirds of the energy bill for an enclosed garage without ventilation control is attributable to ventilation costs. It’s common for a large garage ventilation system to consume as much as 350,000 kWh annually. If your utility rate is $0.15/kWh, that means a garage owner could needlessly spend $50,000 a year ventilating their garage, to say nothing of peak kW demand charges.

2. How can ventilation system improvements help improve garage energy efficiency?

Garage ventilation control technology has taken a quantum leap in the past 10 years, converging with stricter government standards to offer garage owner/operators the means to maximize operational efficiencies and minimize energy consumption.

I frequently come across garages that have the opportunity to reduce their energy consumption by 85 percent to 95 percent by deploying ventilation controls—all while the garage fan motors run continuously. Using the above example, that means your kWh consumption just dropped from 350,000 kWh/year to less than 25,000 kWh/year—and your $50,000 annual energy bill is now roughly $4,000, depending on the control system you select.

3. What do the latest ventilation technologies offer garage owners?

New technologies enable garage owners to adhere to new, stricter code requirements for continuous ventilation during garage operating hours—without the burden of additional energy costs. In most instances, after factoring in the up-front cost of installation, energy costs will be significantly reduced. And that’s a recurring cost savings, not a one-time thing. When parking owners and operators focus on upgrading their ventilation systems, they’re working toward ensuring the health and safety of those who work in the garage and those who might live or work above it.

4. Why are the latest technologies a win for both the garage owner/operator’s bottom line and the environment?

In most instances, ROI and energy savings are phenomenal. One example is a northern California garage with a mechanical ventilation system powered by a total of 20 fan motors possessing a combined 100 horsepower. By code, these fans must run 24/7. With no ventilation controls, the fan motors would consume 527,00 kWh per year, with a corresponding peak demand greater than 60 kW. The utility rate for the garage is $0.205/kWh. That equates to a ventilation cost of more than $108,000 a year.

But with a “variable flow” demand-control ventilation system in place, the energy consumption was significantly reduced. The garage’s annual consumption is now just 26,300 kWh, with a peak demand of 1.5 kW. That’s a 97.4 percent reduction. Operational costs are 97.4 percent less, too.  Ventilation costs now amount to just $5,400 a year—or $450 a month vs. $9,000 a month. After an installation investment cost of $117,200, the project’s Net Present Value (NPV) is $1.18 million. Plus, the system paid for itself in just 13.7 months—not including a regional utility rebate.

5. What is the typical investment a garage owner must make to upgrade their system? How long is the payback period?

It depends on the size of the garage. A growing number of states require one gas sensor (carbon monoxide and, where applicable, nitrogen dioxide) be installed every 5,000 square feet. A 300,000-square-foot garage will require 60 sensors, plus the cost of a controller and variable frequency drives (VFD). Installation labor costs should also factor into the equation. An “all-in” cost for a small- to medium-size garage can range from $18,000 to $60,000. For large garages with multiple fan motors, the cost can run between $75,000 to the plus side of $100,000. However, it’s easy to lose sight of the of energy you’ll save. Most retrofits pay for themselves in 24 month or less. Large garage or small, the value of the technology is intrinsic.

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