Exploring the high demands for higher education facilities: sustainable buildings/energy efficiency
The design process for higher education facilities has its own set of challenges and requirements. Engineers discuss the current trends, challenges, and experiences with college and university facility projects regarding sustainable buildings/energy efficiency.
Mark Fisher, PE, LEED AP, Principal, AlfaTech, San Jose, Calif.
Scott Foster, PE, LEED AP, Principal, Affiliated Engineers Inc., Chicago
Keith Hammelman, PE, Senior Vice President, CannonDesign, Chicago
Tom Hickey, PE, Plant and Building Services Market Leader, Stanley Consultants, Muscatine, Iowa
James Newman, PE, CEM, BEMP, LEED AP BD+C, High Performance Design Team, Leader, EYP Architecture & Engineering, Boston
Jose I. Torres, PE, MBA, Project Manager/Mechanical Engineer, RMF Engineering Inc., Raleigh, N.C.
CSE: Energy efficiency and sustainability are often requested by building owners and CIOs. What net zero energy and/or high-performance systems have you recently specified on college/university projects?
Foster: We’ve specified radiant ceilings and panels, in-slab radiant cooling, geothermal fields (dedicated and campuswide), solar panel installations, variable-volume fume hoods, heat-recovery chillers, and chilled beams.
Hammelman: In a recent net zero energy project for Ohlone Community College, we specified the use of a reversible chiller connected to a geothermal borefield. This was needed to obtain the energy efficiency of the central utility plant and achieve the energy-use intensity at a level to be offset by the onsite PV-generation system. The chillers were configured in a way to properly produce the necessary heating and cooling water for the campus simultaneously. This system in combination with the use of LED lighting, integrated lighting controls, and an energy-efficient envelope allowed for this facility to be a net zero energy project.
Newman: The two primary areas of focus for designing a high-performance HVAC system to mitigate the peak-energy end use for science/laboratory buildings is high-efficiency heat recovery and occupancy/operational lab space controls for reduced flows. Specifying a high-efficiency run-around loop heat-recovery system for science/laboratory building applications allows for peak amounts of heat recovery while still meeting the requirement for keeping supply and exhaust airstreams separated. Designing the lab spaces with occupancy/operational lab space controls can allow for reduced airflows during periods of room vacancy. For this energy-intensive building type, a sustainable HVAC system can be achieved with the two-pronged approach of, first, recovering as much energy as possible from the exhaust air during normal operation and, second, constantly looking to reduce the amount of outdoor ventilation air delivered to the building whenever possible.
Fisher: We have designed PV systems, fuel cells, and solar hot-water systems. We have also designed state-of-the-art HVAC systems with variable refrigerant, chilled beams, and geothermal heat pumps for various colleges and universities. Our lighting staff was involved in a study to determine the most energy-efficient lighting solution for parking lots at University of California, Los Angeles, and the solution was implemented throughout the entire campus. We routinely specify transformers whose efficiencies exceed the Department of Energy’s 2016 requirements. We have found a 15% reduction in lighting energy by specifying lighting control systems with every lighting fixture independently controlled.