Kohrs Lonnemann Heil Engineers PSC (KLH Engineers): University of Cincinnati’s Morgens Hall Renovation

Retrofit and renovation at an educational facility.

By Kohrs Lonnemann Heil Engineers PSC (KLH Engineers) August 14, 2014

Engineering firm: Kohrs Lonnemann Heil Engineers PSC (KLH Engineers)
2014 MEP Giants rank: 57
Project: University of Cincinnati’s Morgens Hall Renovation
Address: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Building type: Educational facility
Project type: Other
Engineering services: Commissioning/retro-commissioning, electrical/power, HVAC/mechanical, lighting, and energy/sustainability
Project timeline: 11/1/2010 to 8/15/2013
MEP/FP budget: $4,593,270


The first and main sustainable goal for this 45-year-old residential dorm building was reuse in lieu of tear down and rebuild. To eliminate the cost of demolition and a new building, the balconies of Morgens Hall were enclosed to add square footage to the dorms without having to make an addition to the building. All existing plan connections were reused instead of building in a different location and extending utilities. KLH Engineers assisted in the selection of glass for the building’s new exterior envelope. The first energy models that the firm did for this project projected that the original glass would require over 1600 cfm. By working with the architect, KLH was able to select glass that provided a 40% reduction in fan horsepower across the building.


KLH Engineers designed systems that were highly sustainable as well as cost effective to allow the university to get the best long-term system for the cost. One of the highly efficient systems used within the designs included an energy recovery system. This system captured heat from the existing bathroom exhaust and used that heat to pretreat outdoor air systems that served the entire building. This system was integrated into the top of existing vertical air shafts and ductwork. One of the goals established early in the project was to retain as much of the existing vertical systems as possible. In this case, the firm was able to reuse all of the existing HVAC exhaust shafts and ductwork. VFDs were used on all large equipment to help reduce energy consumption. The VFDs were controlled through a new BAS that allowed students to control their space temperature in their dorms but also allow the university to control these spaces on peak days. They could also override the system to a predetermined level during times when the dorm was vacant, such as the summer months. In the student dorm rooms, low-noise fan coil units were used that contained highly efficient electronically commutated motors (ECM) motors. When cooling and heating 144 dorm units, this can reduce the motor load and dramatically decrease energy needs. The space is illuminated with 100% LED lighting. This equates to over a 20% reduction in overall energy needs in lighting alone. Industrial fixtures were also used to provide minimal, low-cost maintenance. The university was able to build a $40 million building for $25 million because of the sustainable design strategies implemented. The building is designed to last a long time and perform at a highly efficient level and at a significant decrease in energy consumption.