New research on radiant technology confirms effectiveness in cutting energy use

A recent study released by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (CBE) looks at characteristics of buildings with radiant heating and cooling, and assesses their real-world energy use compared to standard industry benchmarks for energy performance. The study examined 23 North American buildings with radiant distribution systems for both heating and cooling the predominant areas. The study found that almost all of the buildings outperformed peer buildings and national benchmarks.

This research represents the largest data set of measured energy use from buildings with radiant systems for both cooling and heating. While forced-air distribution systems remain the typical approach to heating and cooling in U.S. commercial buildings, radiant systems are emerging as an integral part of ultra-low energy buildings. Radiant systems transfer energy, via a medium that contains piping, with warm or cool water or a water/glycol mix. This study focused on radiant floors and suspended ceiling panel systems. These systems can contribute to achieving significant energy savings due to relatively small temperature differences between the room set-point and the cooling/heating source, as well as the efficiency of using water rather than air for thermal distribution.

The energy study was part of a multi-pronged research effort focused on optimization of radiant systems for energy efficiency and comfort. It was led by CBE on behalf of the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program (EPIC-14-009), “Optimizing Radiant Systems for Energy Efficiency and Comfort.” The report describes the general building characteristics including type, size, location and climate zone.

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