Big Ass Fans: Big Fans of Sustainability

big-ass-fans.jpgWhen it comes to buildings, it can be hard to be big and green. This is especially true of large warehouses or other industrial spaces that have massive ceilings and a lack of natural circulation. But that’s where Big Ass Fans come in handy.
No, I’m not being funny. Big Ass Fans is an actual business name. And it’s a good one, considering that the firm manufactures ceiling fans that reach up to 24 feet in diameter.
Fans may be old-school, but their use in managing an indoor climate can be cutting edge. Big Ass Fans has been designing fans for the past ten years with a strong focus on efficiency. By moving air, they lower temperatures in large spaces during the summer and boost them during the winter.

That may not seem like a major feat of engineering, but Big Ass Fans has an internal research and development team that uses a wind tunnel and other tools to evaluate all of the characteristics of the fan blades in order to ensure that they can move the greatest amount of air with the least amount of strain on the fan’s motor. In fact, the company name when it was founded back in 1999 was HVLS which stands for high volume, low speed fans.
The costs for heating or cooling massive buildings using traditional HVAC systems are extremely high and that explains why they are often so hot or cold inside. Plus, operating traditional HVAC systems generally means sucking down lots of energy. Big Ass Fans is a member of US Green Building Council and its fans can allow users to earn LEED credits, as this Sacramento restaurant is doing.
Using fans to manage air reminds me of using windows to manage light, something to which the redevelopers of Ford Point in Richmond, California can attest.
One more element of the company’s sustainability credentials should be mentioned: the motors and gearboxes come with 10-year warranties and the blades carry lifetime warranties. The company notes that it could make the fans less expensive by using fewer fans, but that would mean that users would need to run them at higher speeds to get the same degree of temperature control.
This might sound like cheerleading, but check out the site and the user testimonials, such as the one from the owner of an indoor skate park in Florida. Using air conditioning in the large space would have been cost-prohibitive so he chose to try out the fan, which really makes the indoor park more comfortable during Florida’s muggy summers.
Big Ass Fans also offers some pretty innovative fan designs, such as a pivot that allows the fan to be directed at different parts of a building based on changing needs.
Oh and guess what, you can get a Big Ass Fan for your big ass house, should you have one, because the company also makes scaled-down and prettier versions of the fans for home or office use. In fact, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne has one. No kidding.

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to

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