Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Use of Solarwall and Ventilation Controls :Integrating Solar Heat and Ventilation Controls(ST6472-1)

Taitem Engineering, P.C.


Providing ventilation air is an important component in maintaining acceptable indoor air quality in buildings. Nevertheless, ventilation is responsible for as much as 20% of the overall energy consumption in a multifamily building. This consumption results from the energy needed to condition the air and to distribute it throughout the building. One strategy for minimizing the energy consumption needed for conditioning air during the winter is to use a solar air preheater, such as Conserval Systems, Inc.'s Solarwall™. Other indoor air quality problems that are found in multifamily buildings include poor makeup air temperature control and poor control of ventilation fans. Still, there is little information describing how to respond effectively to these problems.

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Project Description

The Contractor will: identify a potential demonstration site for the installation of the Solarwall™ system, perform a feasibility study to confirm the viability (e.g., economics, code compliance, etc.) of installing the system at the site, install and monitor a system in Batavia, NY for one year to establish the energy savings, long-term performance, and durability of the system, evaluate methods to control make-up air temperatures more effectively, and strategies for intermittent ventilation control, complete preliminary feasibility studies for a minimum of four other medium or high-rise multifamily buildings in New York State to evaluate their potential for using a Solarwall™ system and, develop a Design Guide for ventilating multifamily buildings that discusses code requirements, recommended ventilation strategies for problem areas, heating and cooling approaches for ventilation air, and appropriate ventilation control strategies.


The solar air preheater will reduce the energy expenses required to ventilate public housing. Tenants will benefit by having improved indoor air quality in their apartments. The demonstration will also promote a renewable technology that can be cost effective for many buildings in New York State.

Project Results

Taitem installed a 1,079 square foot solar preheater on a 186-unit, 13-story, high-rise, multifamily building in Syracuse, NY. The performance of the solar preheater was monitoring for over a year. The solar preheater and controls worked as anticipated and delivered energy savings as predicted. An annual natural gas saving of $1,700 was achieved with the solar preheater. The estimated payback period for this project was 22 years, without any subsidies or tax credits included. The following conclusions were drawn from work relating to ventilation controls in multifamily buildings: modulating gas-fired heaters appear to work more reliably in delivering makeup air than electrically-heated or hydronically-heated systems, modulating makeup air heaters in response to outdoor air temperature can be an effective energy conserving strategy, and carbon dioxide measurements taken in a building with combinations of makeup and exhaust ventilation (for the entire building) indicate that indoor air quality is best maintained with both systems on permanently.


Taitem Engineering, P.C.
110 South Albany Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

Principle Investigator

Ian Shapiro

Universities Involved


Project Type:

Product Demonstration

Technologies Types:

Building Systems
Solar Thermal (heating & cooling)

NYSERDA Contact Information

Robert Carver


R&D - Buildings Research

Contract Details

Start Date: 1/11/2010
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST6472-1

Last Updated: 11/13/2013