Q&A with Our HVAC Experts | Industry Trends and Fun Facts

In the facility management industry, it’s important that facility managers understand HVAC units. From HVAC trends to fun facts, there is a wide array of information surrounding HVAC units.

Recently, we sat down with two of our HVAC experts, Doug Ellis and Kurt Chambers, for an HVAC Q&A session. You can see their responses below:

What are some trends you are seeing in the HVAC industry?

The trends in the HVAC industry are evolving towards being able to control equipment offsite or remotely. This is true for businesses with just a few stores, or hundreds or thousands of stores. Also, variable refrigerant flows are evolving to become popular within the industry. Variable refrigerant flows allow you to only use energy for the spaces that are being occupied with varying temperatures in different spaces.

How long does a commercial HVAC unit typically last?

The lifespan of a roof top unit (RTU) is typically in the 12-year range. Some even last up to 15 years, although when a unit reaches this age, it may end up costing more to maintain compared to replacing the unit itself.

How should facility managers prepare their HVAC units for the summer?

To make sure HVAC units are ready for the summer, facility managers should make sure they have a spring preventative maintenance program in place. Spring preventative maintenance for HVAC units should include:

  • The changing of filters
  • Coil cleaning
  • Component checks

Also, it’s important that a service provider performs maintenance tasks using ASHRAE standards.

What is a fun fact about HVAC units?

One fun fact about HVAC units is that people actually think that a unit cools air, but it doesn’t. HVAC units remove heat. The removal of heat is often measured and reported using British Thermal Units (BTUs).

What does Tonnage Mean for HVAC units?

If you have a 4-ton unit, a lot of people think that unit weights 4-tons. That actually has nothing to do with it. The tonnage is based off the amount of heat that can move throughout a system. A good rule-of-thumb for determining how much heat a unit can remove is taking the tonnage and multiplying by 12. This will help determine how many BTUs a unit can remove in an hour.

For instance, a 1-ton unit can remove 12,000 BTUs in an hour. So, if you take a 4-ton unit, you can remove 48,000 BTUs in an hour.


Doug Ellis
Trade Solutions Advisor

Doug Ellis has worked in the building industry since 1989, specializing in construction, HVAC, refrigeration, and plumbing. In his role at CBRE | FacilitySource as a Trade Solutions Advisor, Doug helps onboard new clients’ equipment to make sure our service providers can support it.


Kurt Chambers
Senior Supply Chain Manager

Kurt Chambers has 10+ years of experience in the HVAC industry. In his role at CBRE | FacilitySource as a Senior Supply Chain Manager, Kurt recruits service provider partners to enhance the company’s HVAC maintenance program.

About CBRE | FacilitySource

CBRE | FacilitySource provides an innovative, technology-driven, single-source facility management and support solution to leading brands across North America. CBRE | FacilitySource maintains the industry’s largest and most reliable data repository to provide business intelligence, transparency, flexibility, support and the Elite Network of Service Providers to save clients’ money and get the most out of their facilities while offering peace of mind. Established in 2005, FacilitySource was acquired in 2018 by CBRE Group, Inc., the largest commercial real estate services and investment firm in the world. For more information, visit https://facilitysource.com.