As with the building enclosure design, working towards energy efficient mechanical systems is also very important in reducing the overall building energy consumption. Creating efficient mechanical systems is not just a matter of using high efficiency units; the overall system strategy, the location of the equipment and ducts, and the design of the distribution systems all impact the efficiency of the design. This section examines the impacts of efficient mechanical systems through examining the design of the cooling, heating, ventilation, dehumidification, and domestic hot water systems.
Prior to deciding on the specific system design for a house, a calculation should be made as to the maximum heat loss and heat gain of the house to determine how much energy the mechanical system needs to transfer to provide indoor comfort. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America has developed a methodology titled Manual J, which calculates the heating and cooling loads by taking into account the characteristics of the building enclosure. With this information, the system type and size can be determined depending on other constraints.