The basic function of the AHU is take in outside air, condition it and supply fresh air to a building. All exhaust air is discharged, which secures an acceptable indoor air quality. Depending on the required temperature of the conditioned air, the fresh air is either heated by a recovery unit or heating coil, or cooled by a cooling coil.
In buildings, where the hygienic requirements for air quality are lower, some of the air from the rooms can be re-circulated by a mixing chamber, and result in significant energy savings. A mixing chamber has dampers for controlling the ratio between the return, outside, and exhaust air.
The AHU is a large metal box containing separate ventilators for supply and exhaust, heating coil, cooling coil, heating/cooling recovery system, air filter racks or chambers, sound attenuators, mixing chamber, and dampers. AHUs connect to ductwork that distributes the conditioned air through the building, and returns it to the AHU.