Heal's-buildingUK: A Panasonic VRF system is providing the ideal conditions at the newly-refurbished, iconic Heal’s furniture store on London’s Tottenham Court Road.

The restoration of the listed 1930s Art Nouveau building to incorporate 40,000ft² of multi-tenant office accommodation has resulted in a building reaching a BREEAM “Very Good” standard.

This is largely due to the use of the latest VRF heat pump system, energy recovery, BEMS and individual tenant energy metering for companies such as Netflix and Deliveroo.

Consultants Cundall worked with Birmingham-based Easy Air Conditioning to design and install a heating and cooling system flexible enough to meet the demands of a variety of office spaces spread over five storeys.

During three phases of delivery Easy Air Conditioning installed 24 Panasonic ECOi VRF systems, comprising 42 heat recovery and heat pump condensing units. Each VRF system is controlled by a Panasonic CZ-256ESMC2 touchscreen controller and is integrated into the building management system of the site.

Ease of installation and maintenance were key selling points as the units were to be installed on the roof of the building where space was limited. The ECOi VRF system provides simultaneous heating and cooling, while operating with a COP of 4.63, making it an ideal solution for a large office building with hundreds of staff.

“We wanted to give the client a heating and cooling system that was easy to use and provided the capacity they needed, and Panasonic ticked all the boxes,” said Easy Air Conditioning’s Andy Wootton.

The floor to ceiling heights in the Heal’s building are lower than one might typically find in a modern office building, due to its heritage as a furniture manufacturing facility. To accommodate this, Easy Air Conditioning selected and installed Panasonic’s MM range of horizontal slimline ceiling-mounted units, designed for spaces where there is limited height above a false ceiling. However, as the architect did not want to fit a false ceiling in the space, due to the lack of height, this meant that the cold supply air from the outlet diffusers could flow straight down onto the people who worked below them, causing pockets of cold air around the office.

To compensate for this, metal plates were installed under the units around the outlet diffusers to create a Coandă effect, where the cool air, on leaving the diffuser, flows out horizontally along the underside of the plates. Easy Air Conditioning also took advantage of the off-coil temperature control facility of the Panasonic units, to maintain an off-coil temperature above 12ºC. This meant that the air emitted from the units was already slightly warmer than a regular cooling system, minimising the risk of draughts.

Easy Air Conditioning supplemented the ceiling-mounted units with a large number of Panasonic’s MR1 series floor standing units, concealed in cabinets beneath windows. These units, specifically designed to be concealed in perimeter enclosures, enable flexible installation as supply pipes can be connected to either side of the unit from the bottom or the rear.

The exposed trunking and pipes of the air conditioning system were incorporated into the interior designer’s stripped back design.