Green Building Technology: Cooling Tower Filtration

Cooling Towers Enhance Green Building Technology

The economic benefits of improving indoor air quality may help to reduce the amount of outside air that is used in an air conditioning system. As more businesses incorporate the principles of green building technology, there will be a substantial benefit of increased productivity from temperature control, better ventilation and lighting control, as well as reduced indoor air pollution. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a globally recognized green building certification system that represents and incorporates emerging green building technologies. In a 2003 report on green building returns on investment, a review of sixty LEED certified buildings revealed an average of 25% to 30% increased energy efficiency.

Cooling towers are devices used to absorb heat from air conditioning systems and evaporate a portion of it in the air. The water is cooled to the wet bulb temperature of the air. Airborne contaminants should be flushed into the system where they will deposit on heat exchange surfaces.  Treatment includes four specific parameters of control that include biological fouling, scale, corrosion and airborne contaminants. Regular filtration of the water in your sump will help to keep your cooling tower clean. Removal of airborne contaminants and byproducts makes treatment very effective. With UV sterilization and filtration, the water is provided with daily cleaning.

Recirculating and cooling towers use deionizing filters such as the Pentek PCF1-10MB Deionization Water Filter and the Pentek PCF1-20MB Deionization Water Filter for their filtration applications. Deionization produces high purity water that is generally similar to distilled water, which is quick and without scale buildup. The HM PH-200 Waterproof pH Meter is a highly accurate digital pH and temperature meter that is ideal for testing boilers and cooling tower applications.

Cooling towers filter airborne contaminants that enter the system. High volumes of dirty ambient air pass through the tower and most of the airborne pollutants will end up in the basin of the cooling tower. Chemical residue, algae and calcium carbonate scale buildup can result from circulation water. The make-up of the water could also contribute to the buildup of contaminants. Cleanliness is the key to control the problems created from airborne pollutants. The filtration in an open cooling tower is necessary in many cases and highly recommended.

As open water continuously cascades in a cooling tower, it always picks up airborne contaminants. These materials can seep into the sump of the cooling tower, flow downstream into the system, and then clog heat exchangers, condenser tube bundles and other very important equipment. This will decrease operating efficiency, shorten the lifespan of equipment, increase water treatment costs, as well as the potential for downtime with cleaning and repairing.

The green building certification system of LEED provides third party verification that a building or community is designed and built using strategies to improve performance in metrics. Such metrics include energy savings, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, water efficiency, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources as it relates to the sensitivity of their impacts.

Do LEED Standards Neglect Indoor Air Quality?

When it comes to building, what does “green” really mean?

According to a recent report from Connecticut-based Environment and Human Health Inc. (EHHI), LEED standards are being adopted by many levels of government as law but are not sufficient to protect human health. The LEED rating system was developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) – a trade association for the building industry. According to the EHHI report, there is no federal regulation standard for what makes a building “green” and the USGBC has little expertise in environmental health.

LEED standards place an emphasis on energy efficiency (35 possible points) over indoor air quality and its effects on health (8 possible points). Since LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” this comes as no surprise. Regardless, people should know what they are really getting with a LEED certification, and according to EHHI, it’s not a healthier indoor environment.

In order to increase energy efficiency and lessen negative environmental impact, buildings are being constructed in such a way as to decrease the flow of air between the inside and outside. Tighter buildings increase human exposure to harmful chemicals and contaminants that become concentrated indoors over time. Building materials, furnishings and cleaning products often contain toxic chemicals, as LEED standards do not require otherwise. These chemicals are released into indoor environments and may be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. LEED also neglects drinking water quality. Pesticides may be used in buildings and on grounds, with no regard to groundwater contamination.

Green building is a growing trend, and many commercial and residential environments are jumping on board the eco-friendly train. However, since humans today spend most of their time indoors, indoor air quality is just as important as energy efficiency, and any green lifestyle should have human health as a top priority. Your home or office building may be LEED certified, but is it truly “green”? Take our IAQ quiz and find out!