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Published January 7, 2008 10:29 AM

Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems Growing in Importance

PALO ALTO, CALIF.—Energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems are becoming increasingly important in North America in light of the current drive to conserve energy, make buildings “green,” and enhance indoor air quality (IAQ). New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, “North American Energy Recovery Ventilation Market,” found that this market earned revenues of $324.6 million in 2006 and it is expected to reach $778.7 million in 2012.

“ERV is a growing segment within the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) market, particularly in northern tier winter heating zones and areas with warmer and high humidity climatic conditions,” says Frost & Sullivan research analyst Jorge Moreno. “The focus on IAQ is another key trend benefiting ERV, as people become increasingly conscious of the importance to maintain air quality through properly designed and managed HVAC systems.”

Conditions such as sick building syndrome become worryingly common due to structural changes in buildings that affect the quality of air circulating inside. Energy waste constitutes another serious consequence, and end users are not only aware of this issue but also take an active interest in reducing building energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as add building value in terms of savings and beneficial impact on occupants.


ERV systems present a potentially effective solution to both these issues because of their unique functioning that allows them to capture and recycle building energy to preheat, pre-cool, humidify or dehumidify the incoming air, instead of exhausting the energy to the outside.

“With half of all illnesses attributed to indoor airborne contaminants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared IAQ a public health priority,” Moreno says. “Ventilation with outdoor air is the only strategy that can simultaneously reduce the levels of all indoor pollutants.”

Codes Encourage Energy Recovery

Energy conservation policies no doubt play a key role in driving market growth. Various codes and standards are put in place to promote energy recovery. For instance, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) current 90.1 standard requires energy recovery systems for applications of 5,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) and larger with 70 percent outside air (OA). ASHRAE 90.1 is a building energy standard that requires at least 50 percent total effectiveness when ERV is used.

Apart from ASHRAE standards, other organizations such as the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and the U.S. EPA also implement various regulations and standards for energy recovery and IAQ. Adherence to these standards, likely adopted by the code bodies, creates new opportunities for ERV as well as lower cfm applications. The lack of knowledge on updated energy-saving practices and the potential to reduce operating costs is a restraint for this industry. Typically, facility managers and building owners rely on contractors to select the HVAC equipment for the building. Contractors, however, work within a budget and tend to purchase equipment based on price rather than long-term efficiency and cost benefits, in the absence of immediate returns on investment.

The challenge, therefore, lies in educating contractors about energy savings, IAQ, and sustainability. Manufacturers also make an effort to reach building developers and owners with an energy savings message. Other recent and encouraging developments include the U.S. Green Building Council’s green building rating initiative, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which evaluates environmental performance from a “whole building” perspective over the building’s service life. “North American Energy Recovery Ventilation Market,” part of the Building Management Technologies Growth Partnership Services, analyzes the impact of the energy efficiency drive in North America on the ERV market. It provides a comprehensive overview of this market, including revenue and shipment forecasts, key technology trends, along with an analysis of the competitive structure.

Go to Frost & Sullivan.

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