ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 12

TECHNICAL FEATURE
Solving the Large
Building All-Electric
Heating Problem
BY BRANDON GILL, P.E., MEMBER ASHRAE
The push for building HVAC electrification1 (i.e., eliminating on-site fossil fuel
consumption) poses new challenges for heating large buildings and campuses in a
practical and efficient way. Common small- and medium-building all-electric solutions
such as air-to-air heat pumps and variable refrigerant flow systems do not
scale well for large building applications, and most existing large-building solutions
require compromises. One novel solution, time-independent energy recovery (TIER),
is an all-electric central plant design that combines thermal energy storage and
energy recovery to improve on existing alternatives for large commercial and mixeduse
buildings with respect to energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, equipment spatial
requirements and support of grid-interactive efficient building initiatives.
State of the Market
Currently, four primary options exist in the market for
generating heat using electricity for large buildings:
* Air-source (air-to-water) heat pumps, which generate
hot water using heat extracted from ambient air via
the vapor compression refrigeration cycle;
* Electric boilers, which rely on electric resistance
heat to generate hot water;
* Wire-to-air electric resistance coils, which are
typically used at the zone level in terminal units such as
variable air volume (VAV) and fan-powered boxes; and
* Heat recovery chillers, which generate chilled water
and hot water simultaneously, but require either simultaneous
heating and cooling loads in the building or a
separate heat source or sink.
Each of these options is fraught with one or more
major challenges related to equipment and installation
costs, spatial requirements, energy efficiency and carbon
emissions.
Air-Source Heat Pumps
Air-source heat pumps (ASHPs) are probably the most
carbon-friendly option on the market that does not rely
Brandon Gill, P.E., is a principal of Taylor Engineering in Alameda, Calif. He is a voting member of ASHRAE TCs 1.4 and 8.2 and was one of the principal researchers for ASHRAE
RP-1711.
12
ASHRAE JOURNAL ashrae.o rg O CTO B E R 2021
http://ashrae.org

ASHRAE Journal - October 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ASHRAE Journal - October 2021

Contents
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Intro
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover1
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover2
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 1
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Contents
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 3
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 4
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 5
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 6
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 7
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - 12
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR1
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR2
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR3
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR4
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR5
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - HR11
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ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover3
ASHRAE Journal - October 2021 - Cover4
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