What is the most efficient HVAC system for tall office building in tropical desert climate?

Working on a research project (which is NOT focused on finding the most efficient HVAC system) I need to pick a HVAC system for energy simulation.

I would be grateful if you could let me know which HVAC systems are the most energy-saving (and/or most common) for high-rise office buildings in tropical desert climate (Dubai), and why? Could you please also send links to available literature supporting your reply?

I have read about pros and cons of some HVAC systems in some papers including:


I guess one of these systems might be a good option: VAV w/ Reheat or VAV w/ PFP Boxes or VRF + DOAS. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Thank you

@AryanShahabian ,

As the person who added the HVAC templates into Honeybee, I can give you a few pointers to act as a general guide:

Systems 1-10 on the Honeybee_HVACsystemsList are code baseline systems and so they are not, by default, the most energy efficient or innovative. They basically just make sure that you meet code and all of them can handle huge peak loads so they don’t require you to be too smart about the amount of glazing or shade to make them work well. I’ll also add that, though these systems are not the most efficient, some of these templates can be improved a lot by editing the coolingDetails, heatingDetails, and airDetails to add things like heat recovery, ground source cooling/heating, etc.

All of the systems with an integer greater than 10 are newer types of HVAC systems and these default templates come from the ASHRAE Advanced Energy Design Guides (AEDG). So they tend to be much more energy efficient but they often require you to be smart about peak loads (glazing and shade) in order to ensure that they keep occupants comfortable in hot sunny conditions. They can also be improved further with the coolingDetails, heatingDetails, and airDetails.

With this guide, I’ll say that the answer to your question about the most efficient HVAC system is never obvious unless, of course, you’re considering a naturally-ventilated building without an HVAC as an option, in which case that is definitely the most efficient :). Part of the reason why I put these templates in there was so that you can test them and answer the question for your own unique building program, massing, facade strategy, thermal comfort criteria, and climate.


@chris Thank you as always for your help