What's Good for the Goose ... er, Panda...

Tai Shan, the nation's resident baby panda, just turned one. "Peaceful Mountain" in Chinese, the panda has come a long way from the hairless four-ounce creature that many dubbed "butterstick." I had the good fortune to see the youngster on a recent trip to D.C., where I learned that his successful transition to "rambunctious toddler" is partly attributable to technology developed for commercial...

07/01/2006


Tai Shan, the nation's resident baby panda, just turned one. "Peaceful Mountain" in Chinese, the panda has come a long way from the hairless four-ounce creature that many dubbed "butterstick." I had the good fortune to see the youngster on a recent trip to D.C., where I learned that his successful transition to "rambunctious toddler" is partly attributable to technology developed for commercial buildings. As part of its ongoing maintenance and monitoring contract with the National Zoo, Siemens Building Technologies had a hand in implementing the environmental control system for the panda habitat. "Essentially, we've taken a traditional BAS and applied it to a different environment," said Mike Piotrowski, SBT's project manager at the zoo.

In the habitat, the company installed nearly 60 sensors to monitor various conditions. Granted, the devices were there mostly for dedicated research. But they were also placed to study, and later maintain, environmental conditions. "We wanted to be able to create a micro-climate in the summer," said Lisa Stevens, the zoo's panda and primate curator.

Therefore, as part of the project, a pair of grottos were constructed and outfitted with two different cooling systems. One involved misting/fogging and the other chilled water via radiant tubing. Part of this was done to determine the cooling systems that would be installed in the zoo's Asia Trail exhibit, currently under construction. "The pandas didn't really care," said Stevens, but the zoo keepers did, because the mist system made the area too wet. It also wasn't efficient, blowing cold air into the artificial cave, she said.

With the research program having concluded, the sensors, today, are mostly monitoring temperature and humidity levels. But they're still tied to an integrated, zoo-wide system that remotely regulates a number of other habitats and even a related conservation park across the Potomac. Why is the zoo doing all this? "We need to build better environments and more appropriate habitats for all animals," said Stevens.

I couldn't agree more, but I'd like to include man in that category. Ironically, the real human interest story here should be: Why aren't we all living in much more comfortable habitats? If PETA inspected the IAQ conditions of most offices today, they'd likely rise in mass protest. So what will it take to get more controls and IAQ sensor points in buildings? LEED? A government mandate? I'm not sure. Jeff Harris, author of this month's "How To" on selecting health-care HVAC components, may be on to something. He's included a matrix that assigns weight to costs and benefits associated with various equipment options (see p. 42). Perhaps for BAS to take off, the community needs such a chart. I pledge to keep on this topic, and hopefully, bring new information to light. One of our sister companies, R.S. Means, is currently involved in developing a life-cycle cost calculator with the Continental Automated Buildings Assn. It appears this reporter needs to make a few phone calls.





Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
2017 MEP Giants; Mergers and acquisitions report; ASHRAE 62.1; LEED v4 updates and tips; Understanding overcurrent protection
Integrating electrical and HVAC for energy efficiency; Mixed-use buildings; ASHRAE 90.4; Wireless fire alarms assessment and challenges
Integrated building networks, NFPA 99, recover waste heat, chilled water systems, Internet of Things, BAS controls
Transformers; Electrical system design; Selecting and sizing transformers; Grounded and ungrounded system design, Paralleling generator systems
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; VFDs in high-performance buildings
Tying a microgrid to the smart grid; Paralleling generator systems; Previewing NEC 2017 changes
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me