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The objective for this lesson is to introduce you to some fundamental ideas of an HVAC System, such as being able to answer what an HVAC System is, why it is important and what are the goals the system is trying to accomplish. The next objective is to learn about the sensors that are commonly used in HVAC Systems and how you can analyze and visualize insight to the health of the HVAC System. The appendix lists many of the common components that makeup the HVAC System.


  • Read overview on Building an HVAC System Analysis Application


HVAC System Analysis Fundamentals

What is an HVAC System?

HVAC is a machine that handles the heating, ventilation and air conditioning in a building.

Why is the HVAC System important in Commercial Buildings?

HVAC Systems play a critical role in controlling the building's temperature, providing fresh air circulation and filtration that if not regularly maintained will cause productivity, comfort and health of the occupants to suffer.

What are the Goals of an HVAC System?

1. Adjust the room's temperature to keep the occupants comfortable.

2. Supply fresh exterior air circulation to the room and alleviate CO2 buildup, so occupants will experience better health and better performance gains in the workplace.

3. Provide air filtration using filters at various stages for the recirculated conditioned air since it can carry contaminants and dust, which can cause respiratory illness.

4. Be energy efficient and economical due to the spiraling cost of fuel.

What facilities is the HVAC System's air filtration feature most critical?

  • Clean rooms
  • Medical facilities
  • Hazardous materials

HVAC Sensor Data

Where does the Sensor Data Come From?

The sensor data comes from building operations. There are Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems in 20 large buildings around the world.

What sensors are used in HVAC Systems?

  • Thermostat: regulates temperature switching between heat or air conditioning.

  • Pressure Sensor: monitors air flow, heating and cooling.

  • Duct Smoke Detectors: prevent HVAC systems from spreading smoke through a building by moving smoke from one area to another area.

  • Indoor Air Quality Sensor: carbon sensors measure carbon levels in the air , which is an indicator of air circulation and when poor air circulation is relevant, the chances of contaminants in the air increases

For more information on the common sensors used in HVAC Systems, refer to 5 HVAC Sensors You Need To Know About

Why are the sensors important for HVAC Systems?

The sensors help HVAC Systems run smoothly and safely, improve energy efficiency and preserve human health.

HVAC Data Analysis

Through analysis of the HVAC datasets, we can retrieve insight to see which HVAC System Models are adjusting the temperature in buildings most effectively. We can also see the country at which these buildings reside. For instance, if you own a business that has 20 buildings with an HVAC System spread across multiple countries, the buildings that have extreme temperatures of HOT or COLD may need to have their HVAC Systems replaced especially the ones that are old. The visualization of the data would be able to make it easier to locate buildings from particular countries that have HVAC Systems that need to be replaced.


Congratulations! Now you are familiar with the purpose of an HVAC System. You have an idea of the common sensors that are used in HVAC Systems and how data from these systems can be analyzed to determine whether a system is in need of being replaced. With this foundation, you are ready to start building the application.

Further Reading

Appendix A: Components that make up an HVAC System

  • Chiller/Air Conditioner: utilizes heat exchangers or circulated fluid or gas to cool the air that is passed through it

  • Air Handler: is a fan or blower that moves air through a general filter then moves the air throughout the buildings ductwork

  • Air Filters: consists of various grades of air filters used in the system depending on the requirements of the occupants and the activities in the building

  • HEPA: sophisticated filters used in the downstreamed ductwork

  • Ductwork: are round and rectangular duct work, which provides a pass for the conditioned air from the air handling unit to the environment

  • Damper: consists of one more blades used to control the amount of air flow through a duct

  • Manual Damper: ensures different parts of the building receive proportional ventilation based on area and demand

  • Automated Damper: are usually installed at firewall which close in the case of a fire

  • Terminal Unit: uses an automated damper controls the amount of air which is delivered to a room or region

  • Electric Pneumatic or Digital Actuator: is regulated by a thermostat and controls the automatic damper that is used by the terminal unit

  • Zones: are a set of regions or rooms in a building, which have a set of identical heating and air conditioning needs. It is typical practice to assign one terminal unit and thermostat to each zone

  • Heating Coils: provide an efficient way of providing heat for those few areas that require it and are controlled by the same thermostat system as the terminal unit

  • Linings/Attenuators: dampen noise within a duct a short length of line ductwork

  • Grilles, Registers, Diffusers (GRDS): is a way for air from the ductwork to enter the occupied workspace.

  • Return Inlets: after air enters the occupied workspace, air will circulate through the return inlets and returns to the air handling unit

For more information on the components that makeup an HVAC System, refer to HVAC Video: 2-Fundamentals of HVAC - Basics of HVAC

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