U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Federal Energy Management Program

New and Underutilized Technology: Commercial Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems

The following information outlines key deployment considerations for commercial energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems within the Federal sector.


Energy recovery ventilation systems exchange heat between the outgoing exhaust air and the ventilation air being brought in. This reduces the capacity of the HVAC system and saves energy. Heat and energy recovery wheels are the most common. Other types include energy recovery loops, heat pipes, and plate exchangers. Some transfer both sensible and latent heat.


Application for commercial ERV systems is site dependent on climate conditions and relative duct locations.

Climate and Regional Considerations

Commercial energy recovery ventilation systems have the greatest impact in climates where there is a large difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures for much of the year. The pressure drop across the ERV increases the power requirement of the blower. Therefore, in milder climates, a bypass and a variable speed blower should be used to bypass the ERV when energy savings are smaller than the increased blower power.

Key Factors for Deployment

Federal agencies must use energy recovery ventilation systems in Federal buildings. The Federal Government also recommends that schools and small businesses consider energy recovery ventilation.

Ranking Criteria

Federal energy savings, cost-effectiveness, and probability of success are ranked 0-5 with 0 representing the lowest ranking and 5 representing the highest ranking. The weighted score is ranked 0-100 with 0 representing the lowest ranking and 100 representing the highest ranking.

Federal Energy Savings Cost Effectiveness Probability of Success Weighted Score
0.9 4.0 4.8 52