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Integrated software for HVAC design

Integrated HVAC design solution


FineHVAC, advanced software for HVAC design, combines design and calculations within an integrated environment, performing all the required calculations directly from the drawings, and automatically producing all the study results.

FineHVAC, an advanced software solution for HVAC design, combines design and calculations within a synergistically integrated environment, performing all the required calculations directly from the drawings, and automatically producing all the study results.

These range from calculation sheets, technical reports, a complete series of final drawings updated with the calculation results (plan views, vertical diagrams, details), bill of materials, cost estimation and all the rest. FineHVAC differs from any other HVAC software as it faces the HVAC design process from a holistic point of view, considering at the same time:
• The Building model as a complex but uniform entity, composed by particular entities with specified features and given interactions (for example, the structural elements constitute walls, the walls constitute spaces, spaces compose levels etc);
• The HVAC system also as a logical entity composed of particular entities (for example, a heating installation consists of radiators, pipe network and engine room, each of them having its own characteristics and interactions with the other ones);
• The ‘smart’ interaction between the building model and the HVAC system.

From its structure point of view, FineHVAC consists of two big components, namely the CAD and the calculations Components that work together, interacting synergistically with each other. The CAD component supports the user in designing any HVAC project in a simple way through a set of high-level commands.

Then it ‘recognises’ the HVAC installation and transfers the required data to the calculations component. After the possible user interventions on the calculation environment, the CAD component gets back the results and creates, in a completely automatic way, all the project drawings in their final form (vertical charts and ground plans fully updated with the calculation results).

The calculations component acquires the information from the drawings automatically (calculation data sheets are filled automatically), while it uses a rich and reliable methodological background in order to produce the whole case study booklet (calculation sheets, diagrams, bill of materials, technical reports, etc.), also taking advantage of a flexible report generator.

Operation and functionality

FineHVAC has its own autonomous CAD engine, based on IntelliCAD, the famous alternative CAD solution provided by ITC (www.intellicad.org). The CAD component performs all the tasks needed for the design of an installation through a series of expert functions. In particular, the main tasks accomplished by FineHVAC CAD are the following:

• Recognition of any architectural ground plan: The program recognizes – that is, it makes entities of – walls and openings, even if they come from a different architectural or even bitmap drawings (from a scanner);
• Automatic receptor installation: The package installs the heating radiators in the ground plan on its own, as well as the FCU Units and the duct grills, based on rules of logic;
• Automatic connections: Using the commands ‘automatic designing of single pipe circuit’, ‘automatic connection of radiators with columns’ etc., entire blocks are designed with just one move;
• Commands of automated piping drawing (auto-routing): Using the rooting commands ‘double pipe’ (that is, inlet-return), ‘pipe parallel to wall’ or ‘parallel to points’ etc., the pipes and their connections are designed almost automatically;
• Automatic installation recognition: The program recognises and numbers the nodes (junctions) and transfers the data exactly as the calculating subsystem demands;
• Automatic location of symbols: The ground plan drawings are enriched automatically with the results values, and also with the necessary drawing symbols according to the standards;
• Automatic creation of drawings: All the view plan project drawings are produced automatically, as well as the vertical diagrams (automatically through the ground plans), plus other detailed drawings such as, for example, the 2D or 3D air duct network. The two-dimensional air duct network is also produced automatically by the conversion of the single line drawing.
The calculation component of FineHVAC is characterised by the following features and functionalities:
• High-performance calculating core (spreadsheet-like): The user can interfere freely in the independent parameters and observe in real-time the results of his or her selections (the system is self-updated);
• Rich methodological background: The user has the ability to select among a wide spectrum of alternative methods and techniques (for example, DIN, EN and ASHRAE for the heat loads, Carrier-ASHRAE for the cooling loads [in fact, three ASHRAE methods are included, namely CLTD, TFM and RTS], equal velocity/equal friction/static regain methods for the air ducts, classical or based on simulation piping models, etc);
• Results in various forms: Text, tables, diagrams, auxiliary drawings and others that result automatically from the calculation sheet;
• Advanced bill of materials/cost estimation/bid system: Many possibilities, such as freedom of editing, possibility to select from auxiliary material and task libraries, are open to the user;
• Integrated technical report manager: Ready technical descriptions, specification and acceptance templates, are open to the user;
• Enriched material libraries: Material libraries are open to the user, and with the possibility of co-operating with specific material guides on CDs; and
• Integrated reporting system: Selection of ready-print templates on many levels (general presentation, fonts, headings/frames/layout, etc.) that can also be defined by the user. The calculation environment consists of eight modules, divided into two groups:
I. Heating
• Heat Losses: Heat loss calculation and energy analysis using the degree/days method;
• Twin-pipe system: Calculation of twin-pipe heating installation for any network case (classic or reverse-return), with either the classic method or even with full hydraulic simulation;
• Single pipe: Complete calculations of the single pipe heating system with three alternative methodologies, namely equal friction, equal temperature drop, hydraulic simulation; and
• Infloor: Complete calculations of the infloor heating installation.
II. Air-Conditioning
• Cooling loads: Calculation of the cooling loads using one of the Carrier, ASHRAE CLTD or ASHRAE TFM methods;
• Fan coil piping: Calculation of the fan coil pipe network for any case (classic or reverse-return), using either the classic method or even with full hydraulic simulation;
• Air ducts: Calculation of air duct networks using three alternative methods, namely equal velocity, equal friction, static regain; and
• Psychrometry: Selection of air-conditioning units and distribution of the air in the air-conditioned spaces, based on the detailed equations of psychrometry (for cooling and heating), with any method (for example, cooling dehydration, re-heating, pre-conditioned, return air bypass, 100% wet, etc).

Latest developments

Recently the European Commission launched a public consultation on the recasting of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (2002/91/EC), which closed on 20 June 2008. The building sector accounts for 40% of the EU’s energy requirements. It offers the largest single potential for energy efficiency. Research shows that more than one-fifth of the present energy consumption, and up to 30 to 45 million tons of carbon dioxide/year, could be saved by applying more ambitious standards to new build, and when refurbishing existing buildings – which represents a considerable contribution to meeting the Kyoto Protocol targets.

Within this new framework, FineHVAC is being extended to meet these new needs. For this reason the heating load application now includes also the EN12831 standard, while another major extension has to do with the incorporation of ISO 13790:2008.


FineHVAC makes true the dream of any HVAC designer to automatically obtain the case study results directly from the project drawings through a really friendly, fast and reliable process. FineHVAC gives the opportunity for users to examine, in a very easy and fast way, various design alternatives in order to achieve optimal solutions. The fact that FineHVAC advances both the speed of designing and the quality of the end project proves that the program redefines the competitive standards in the HVAC design industry. Much more than an HVAC software application, FineHVAC is a sophisticated tool for green building design.

By Spiros Papathanasiou E.E. Phd, 4M S.A. and Asif Perez M.E., 4M-UAE. For more information, visit www.4m-uae.com or e-mail info@4m-uae.com.

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Construction Week - Issue 759
Feb 22, 2020