Condensing commercial equipment facing efficiency rules

An amendment to Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations will see efficiency requirements for commercial water heaters added for the first time. It will move the industry to condensing technology, resulting in a substantial cost increase for building owners and more complication for engineers and contractors.

Amendment 15 will require that all commercial water-heating equipment be condensing or near condensing by Jan. 1, 2020. The proposed regulations are out for comment now and are expected to be finalized by the end of 2018.

The added cost and venting requirements of condensing equipment can be factored into the cost and design in new construction. Building owners will pay significantly more.

It’s primarily retrofit applications that are causing concern. Some existing buildings, particularly in dense urban areas, will be difficult to retrofit if the new efficiency requirements preclude the use of existing B-vent chimneys.

Keep in mind that the maximum venting run for most condensing equipment is about 100 feet, less five to ten feet for each elbow. A15-storey building will need mechanical drafters to vent from the basement to the roof.

And in a hotel or high-rise that uses multiple boilers vented into a B-vent chimney, if one boiler goes down it cannot easily be replaced if it has to be condensing. It will require it’s own chimney.

NRCan has not yet established the required efficiency levels for retrofit applications and is currently working through a number of equipment and venting scenarios. Lets hope that common sense prevails and “near condensing” is not too near.

The good news is that manufacturers and NRCan are still talking, so hopefully they will come up with a solution that works.


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