High-performance medical and educational building design: HVAC

The design of high-performance medical and educational projects are challenging and need to meet specific standards, codes, and trends. There can be unique HVAC system requirements for high-performance buildings.

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer June 30, 2016


Joseph A. D’Alù, PE, LEED AP, CEM, Division Manager, RMF Engineering, Charlottesville, Va.

TG Davallou, LEED AP, Partner, Alfa Tech Consulting Engineers, San Francisco

Sean Donohue, PE, LEED AP, Director, Colorado Springs, Jensen Hughes, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Anthony B. Preteroti, Associate Vice President, CannonDesign, Grand Island, N.Y.

Teresa Rainey, PE, LEED Fellow, Director of High-Performance Design, EYP Architecture & Engineering, Washington, D.C.

CSE: Have you specified distinctive HVAC systems on any high-performance campus projects?

Davallou: Yes, for all of the College of Marin projects including the main building; math and science buildings have geothermal HVAC systems.

CSE: What unique HVAC requirements do high-performance campus projects have that you wouldn’t encounter in other projects?

Davallou: Geothermal systems will require a detailed well-test analysis and the water department’s approval. For example, for the Mission College project’s main building, we had to change the vertical-loop design to horizontal-loop during the construction administration because of leakage, which was not acceptable by the water department.

CSE: When retrofitting existing buildings for such projects, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Davallou: We’ve seen space issues for thermal storage and geothermal. For Soka University, we looked at a void space near the central plant to locate the chilled-water thermal storage tanks.