Aircraft Manufacturer, Bombardier's Green Mission Now Includes Solar Air Heating

The Lubi wall-mounted solar air heater saves $5,000 (CAD) in natural gas and cuts CO2 missions by 16 tons annually for R&D facility.

Bombardier Inc. has been a corporate role model of energy efficiency for years, but recently the world's third largest aircraft manufacturer took initial steps toward more green technology by using a solar energy retrofit to preheat outdoor air at its Mirabel, Quebec industrial building.

Previously, solar wasn't a preference because the Montreal-based, publicly-held company's two-year payback selection criteria limits the consideration of many alternative energy concepts.

At the company's 40,000-square-foot research and development facility at the Mirabel Airport, for example, Bombardier's plant engineering group authorized the recent installation of a Lubi(TM), a wall-mounted solar air heater that is amidst a two-year payback for that application. The Lubi supplements the existing natural gas-fired make-up air unit by preheating wintertime outdoor air for the 52-foot-tall, hangar style building as required by ASHRAE Standard 62-mandated commercial building requirements.

"In 2008 we analyzed all types of equipment with a goal of reducing our electric and natural gas consumption," said Serge Dumont, P.Eng., plant engineering and tooling manager, commercial aircraft div.-Bombardier. "We decided only projects with a two-year payback or less would give us the most effective return on investment."

The 145-foot-wide x 12-foot-high solar collector aesthetically simulates architectural windows and covers about 25-percent of the 7,600-square-foot masonry wall. It is delivering an annual 16-ton reduction of CO2 emissions and a $5,000 (CAD) natural gas savings. Over the course of its 20-year (minimum) lifecycle, the natural gas savings will undoubtedly rise well past $100,000 when considering inevitable fossil fuel price escalations. Lifecycle CO2 reductions is estimated at 320 tons.

Developed and manufactured by Enerconcept Technologies, Magog, Quebec, the Lubi is the world's most efficient solar product, according to National Solar Test Facility (NSTF), a Mississauga, Ont.-based third-party laboratory that tests and rates solar technologies under controlled temperature/sunlight/wind and is sanctioned by the Solar Rating and Certification Corp., (SRCC), Cocoa, Fla. Enerconcept's factory engineers supplied Dumont's engineering team with sizing, output calculations and other design assistance.

In an ideal setting, the Lubi could have yielded an even greater payback if not for several site challenges:

o the collector is mounted on a west wall instead of an optimum south wall exposure, which was decided against due to a future building project that is expected to partially block sunlight on the south wall.

o A larger solar collector could have provided more heating, however the Lubi is sized to provide the capacity of preheated outdoor air required by the existing 7,000-cfm Bousquet, Sainte Julie, Quebec, rooftop make-up air unit.

o A larger Lubi could have also supplied a second HVAC system, however its east side location required a rooftop ductwork addition that was not cost-effective.

o The building's indoor temperature set points are an energy-conserving 66°F (19°C), which requires less solar heating capacity than higher building set points.

The 66°F building temperature is part of several company-wide green strategies Bombardier employs. "We have saved a lot of natural gas by lowering the temperature in our building by just one degree," Dumont said.

Other strategies include energy conservation through microprocessor-controlled lighting zone programming that provides light only when workers are present. The company also stores energy during off-peak hours so as not to surpass higher energy rate allowances by local utilities during peak times.

The solar strategy is new for Bombardier although it has been used twice previously, both with wall-mounted solar collectors. Other solar methods, such as solar water heating and photovoltaic don't yet reach the company's two-year payback standard, according to Dumont.

The Lubi, which was recommended by a Bombardier supplier with performance data later verified by Dumont's engineering department, potentially supplies 36-45°F (20-25°C) above ambient depending on outdoor temperature and available sunlight. It has a 7-inch space between the glazing and a 26-gauge sheet metal facade attached to the wall and custom painted to match the building's blue, decorative striping below. Changing the wall color from beige to the darker blue inside the collector helps increase solar radiation absorption by 40 percent. The solar collector also increases the R-value of the wall portion it covers from R-20 to R-40, which in turn helps reduce heat loss through the building wall. RTSI, a Sherbrooke, Quebec-based metal installation contractor, installed the solar collector.

The Lubi's 18-percent higher efficiency versus other solar air heaters collectors is due to its patented translucent perforated panel technology. Each 3 x 1-foot (900 x 320-mm) polycarbonate panel has 906 perforations. Unlike wall-mounted metal solar collectors that suffer significant thermal losses on their exterior panel surfaces, the solar collector's panels greatly reduce thermal loss because of their transparency and the cooling effect of outdoor ambient air being drawn through the perforations by the building's HVAC air handling system. Wind and rain do not affect the solar collector's performance.

The solar collector's rising air culminates in a sheet metal mixing box fabricated by the project's ventilation contractor, J.P. Lessard Canada Inc., Montreal. The box also features a bypass damper manufactured by T. A. Morrison Co. (TAMCO), Stittsville, Ont., that is controlled by a Honeywell, Minneapolis, Minn., building automation system for the facility. Connecting the mixing box to the rooftop HVAC unit is a 30-foot-long, 32-inch-diameter sheet metal duct. A black weather-resistant exterior coating provides optimum solar radiation absorption and negates the need for duct insulation.

A Lubi solar collector of the Mirabel building's size costs approximately $40,000. Project costs were reduced with incentives from Natural Resources Canada and a rebate from the Energy Efficiency Fund (EEF) of natural gas utility, Gaz Metro.

Bombardier continues to find alternative energy and conservation concepts that further reduce its environmental impact. Solar air heating outdoor air requirements promises a viable solution to reducing CO2 emissions and using less finite fossil fuel resources.

About Enerconcept Technologies: Enerconcept Technologies, Magog, Quebec, is a 12-year-old solar air heating equipment manufacturer that markets its products throughout North America and Europe. Enerconcept is the developer of the Lubi(TM), a wall-mounted solar air heater that provides heating to commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. The Lubi(TM), which uses patent-pending perforated glazing technology, is the world's most efficient solar air heater, according to certification tests by the Canadian Standards Association--International. Enerconcept also manufactures an economical metal wall-mounted solar air heater, rooftop solar air heaters and other fine alternative energy products. For more information on Enerconcept Technologies, please visit, email: or call (866) 829-1690.

About Bombardier: A world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2011, were $17.7 billion, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at or follow us on Twitter @Bombardier Inc.

Contact:Christian Vachon - President

Enerconcept Technologies Inc.

(819) 843-1323


John Parris Frantz

JPF Assoc. Communications

(773) 871-2600

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