How Choosing the Right HVAC System Impacts Multi-Family Housing


Our Virtual Lunch & Learn blog series explores a specific topic adapted from our most popular Allen & Shariff Lunch and Learn courses.

Involved in a multi-family construction project? Then you know that one of the most critical concerns, especially during the design process, is finding the right HVAC solution. That’s because HVAC systems:

  • Require substantial floor space and building volume, a key consideration during the design process
  • Demand significant capital investment
  • Account for a large part of building operating costs

So how do you decide what kind of system maximizes essential comfort, corresponds with the proposed space, fits in the overall budget, and operates at the highest rate of efficiency? While much depends on the minimum energy standard code requirements for a particular project, there are still several possible choices available. Take into account the options detailed below early on, and you will help guarantee the long-term success of your building project.

Packaged and Vertical Terminal Air Conditioning (PTAC and VTAC) have the lowest initial cost and are easy to individually meter for multi-family use, but they have noise and location limitations. Units must be located near an exterior wall, and unit mounted compressors increase noise considerations.

Split System Heat Pumps offer relatively low initial cost and are also easy to individually meter. The remote compressor cuts down on noise. It’s particularly important to consider a split system carefully during the design phase because of the high amount of refrigerant piping needed and the roof space required for condensing units.

VRF Systems offer outstanding efficiency, occupy minimal roof space, and offer quiet outdoor condensing units, making them a desirable, high-end option. Potential limitations include a high initial cost and a lack of qualified installation contractors. 

Water Source Heat Pumps may have high energy efficiency during spring and fall and consolidated rooftop equipment, yet they present high initial and maintenance costs. It’s also difficult to sub-meter electric usage for different occupants of multi-family housing facilities.

More questions? Contact Allen & Shariff to schedule an in-person presentation by one of our industry experts, and learn how to implement the right HVAC solution into your building design.

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