Guru of HRV’s coming to BE-13

In January of 2011, I had the great privilege to travel to Upper Austria and Saxony, with an intrepid crew of NESEA stalwarts, Tom Hartman, Chris Benedict and Paul Eldrenkamp (Paul wrote about it here), to look at and report back on the state of the art high performance buildings in a region with some of the world’s most advanced buildings and government programs for support of same.  The limits to growth have been obvious for at least centuries in that part of the world and I attribute at least some of the social consensus to actually do something about it to that environment.  And some to clarity about really needing to work together in this world, as opposed to the American Cowboy mentality we work so hard to grow out of.

One of the highlights of that trip was meeting Eberhard Paul, of the Paul Company where some of the most efficient and advanced residential heat/energy recovery ventilators in the world are made.  Paul’s cores are used in at least some of the Zehnder products which the Passivhaus US folks have helped popularize in North America.  (Thanks, PHers!)

Eberhard toured us around his factory, sat us down in their conference room to answer any questions we had, and at the end put on a small feast for us, to which he had invited architects and others with whom we might have interests in common.  This level of hospitality was the rule, not the exception on the trip, and we heathens have lots to learn about how this level of effort creates community and engenders a feeling that the visitor is well respected.  (Anyone care to join me to take Eberhard out to dinner when he comes to BE13?)

The factory was amazing – an immaculate, well organized place, from machines forming thin plastic plates of the heat exchanger core, with patented patterns that achieve counter-flow performance, to assembly stations, some automated, to a showroom with an amazing array of HRV’s that we can dream of, from large units coupled with sophisticated controls, to tiny but efficient units that fit in the soffit above kitchen cabinets!

The talk we had in his conference room was a geek’s dream!  I asked about why their effectiveness numbers were higher than ours for similar equipment, and Eberhard proceeded to give us a lesson on HRV/ERV effectiveness testing, and how the boundary conditions you select influence the outcome.  For example, the heat in the home adds heat to air flows in the HRV, and this effect either adds or subtracts from effectiveness, depending on if you are testing the outgoing air stream or the incoming.

Eberhard will help us understand the ins and outs of HRV/ERV efficiency and more at his talk at BE13.  It is sure to be interesting!  I look forward to seeing him again.

Andy Shapiro, Energy Balance, Inc.

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