Eco-Design Directive for air handling units:


What are the changes and impacts?


Clarifications from DencoHappel

The Eco-Design Directive, which has entered into force on 01.01.2016 for air handling units, sets minimum requirements for energy efficiency. All AHU manufacturers in the 28 countries of the EU are affected. DencoHappel are complying with the requirements, however to achieve this, some adjustments have been made on the products.

The Objective of the Eco-Design Directive

The Eco-design Directive or ErP (2009/125/CE) aims at reducing by 20% greenhouse gases emissions within the European Union by 2020 (greenhouse gas emissions have to be divided by 4 by 2050) by reinforcing energy efficiency on energy consuming products.

The directive sets not only minimum requirements for the energy efficiency, but also a limit on noise level and on polluting emissions. The directive concerns products sold for more than 200 000 pc per year within the European market and which may have a major impact on environmental issues. Experts estimate that 20 categories of products represent roughly 80% of results regarding reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Over time, products which have a strong impact on energy consumption and gas emissions will disappear slowly from the market, for instance the CMV (Controlled Mechanical Ventilation) and cross flow heat exchangers.


Implementation of the Eco-Design Directive

The European Directive sets the major requirements on Eco Design applied on products which are consuming energy, in order to reduce their environmental footprint, and particularly their energy consumption.  This is concerned as the most relevant parameter along the Life Cycle Cost of the product: manufacturing, shipping, handling and end of product life. The conception phase is where initiatives are the more important to improve product energy efficiency performance, and thus improve its impact on the environment.

Some examples of requirements from the Eco-design Directive: dual flow (bidirectional) ventilation units must be equipped with a high efficiency energy recovery system and a controller (by pass, rotor speed command). The fans must be equipped with a motor with several speeds or a frequency converter (except for multi-purpose units, e.g. ventilation + smoke extraction). Consequently, the Eco-design directive urges Air Treatment manufacters to investigate on new solutions.

Applications for AHU

Three applicable regulations of the Eco-Design Directive concerning directly the AHUs have entered into force by the beginning of 2016.

They are reinforcing the requirements towards electrical motors (commission regulation EU 640/2009), fans of an electrical power between 125W and 500kW (commission regulation EU 327/2011) ventilation units which aim at bringing fresh air into the building to replace the used air (commission regulation EU 1254/2014).This last requirement makes a differentiation between residential and non-residential units, which have an air flow equal or superior to 1000 m3/h.

DencoHappel brings global improvements on their AHUs and particular care is given to the aeraulic components in order to reduce pressure losses by maintaining low air speeds as much as possible and to the fans to improve their efficiency. The recovery systems with rotary or counter flow plate heat exchangers, instead of cross flow plate heat exchangers, low energy consumption electric drives (EC, impeller with backward curved blades, direct drive plug fans).

DencoHappel puts forward the fact that some sections of the AHU have been enlarged to comply with the directive. Thus, it might be that in order to comply with the requirements a bigger space of installation will be needed. Besides, if the purchasing price of an AHU “ErP2016 compliant” is higher than a standard one, this price difference will be quickly compensated by the gain realized thanks to the reduction of energy consumptions. Return on Investment (ROI) is reached in an average time period of 1.5 to 2 years compared to a standard AHU.


Needs of clarifications

Manufacturers, among them DencoHappel, agree that the Eco-Design Directive includes  “grey” areas which will hopefully be clarified in 2016 by the EU commission. Moreover, the number of different regulations regarding the same equipment (motors, fans,… ) set requirements which are not always compatible between them. Manufacturers are already concerned about the delay impacting on the ability to achieve the requirements of the next step of the ErP directive, which will be effective on the 01.01.2018.

For example, the heat exchangers efficiency must be as from the 01.01.2016 of 63% with a heat transfer fluid and 67% for all other cases, this value will increase respectively to 68% and 73% by 2018. To sum up, professionals have to compare and understand the technical datasheets to be able to rank different AHUs, because a large part of the directive is open to interpretation.

Example with a DencoHappel solution which is ErP 2016 compliant:

AHU bidirectional air flow COM4 plus outdoor
Main application area: outdoor installation on the roof
Eurovent A Class
Air flow : 2160 m3/h (fresh air) – 1380m3/h (return air)
bag filters  F7 (fresh air) – M5 (return air)
Heat recovery system : rotary heat exchanger
Heating coil

Air dampers on the fresh air and on the return air side

EC plug fan with modular control

Requirement efficiency value according to the EcoDesign directive > 73%
Real Value on the selected AHU : 85%
Requirement SFP value according to the EcoDesign directive < 1370 W/m3/s
Real Value of the selected AHU : 642 W/m3/s

This article was published in Galivel & Associés, 25th February 2016 (only in French):
Directive ErP appliquée aux CTA : quels changements ? quels impacts ?

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