ATLANTA - A lot of people are getting sick of the word green as it applies to conservation strategies. They feel that its meaning is being diminished and diluted by those who apply it to products and services for its marketing oomph - often without the true benefits one would hope to see from something that’s green.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has been ahead of the curve in that regard. They’ve been calling their preferred conservation efforts sustainability (defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”). It’s the ability to use existing resources well into the future by using them wisely today.
With this in mind, the society put its beliefs into action when making decisions on how to expand its headquarters building, choosing between building a new facility, buying another existing facility, or making significant modifications to the existing building. After careful consideration, ASHRAE decided to invest in renovating its existing facility, which was recently unveiled to the media and sponsors in a grand renewal event.
Some 200 people gathered in late October for the headquarters dedication ceremony. Guests included industry partners who donated nearly $1.65 million in equipment and services for the $7.65 million renovation. The renovation represents the largest capital investment in ASHRAE history: $7.65 million, said Jeff Littleton, ASHRAE executive vice president.
“None of this would have been possible without the hard work and commitment from many volunteers and staff involved in the renewal for the last three years,” said Bill Harrison, ASHRAE president. “More importantly, generous donations by companies and firms have ensured that not only our building will be here for a long time to come, but that ASHRAE can continue to provide the sustainable building technology guidance that we are known for.”
“Not only is the renovation a technology and productivity showcase,” said Littleton, “it also exemplifies the incredible potential of determined members and the greater ASHRAE community working toward a common goal.”
The new headquarters serves as a laboratory without walls to extend the society’s knowledge and information worldwide. Completed in July, the renovation includes a new learning and meeting center.
HVAC RENOVATIONOf course, the building’s mechanical systems played a critical role in the project. New systems spotlight several technologies, including a Daikin variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system on the first floor; a ClimateMaster geothermal system on the second floor; and Trane dedicated outdoor air system with heat recovery and a photovoltaics (PV) system.
Mechanical contractor Batchelor and Kimball, Lithonia, Ga., headed up the HVAC project. Project manager Jim Wright said they were tapped for the job due to their working association with general contractor Gay Construction. “We work very closely with them.” The contractor typically performs commercial HVAC, plumbing, and fire protection services for all types of facilities; institutional work including medical gas systems; and industrial process work.
Most of the contractor’s business is in hospitals, health care, and lab facilities. “Obviously, they try to find the most energy-efficient equipment, economizers, and stuff,” said Wright. “I’ve had several people call about the VRF system from the ASHRAE job. A developer and several contractors called from up in the North Carolina area. The developer led the charge there,” he said. The company has not really been pursuing the sustainability market, but Wright said he has noticed an interest at the owner level that is pushing up its activity.
The ASHRAE project took 10 months to complete.
The entire building is extensively submetered to track operational and performance parameters. Additional contributors included Aircuity, Automated Logic Corp., Dynamic Air Quality Solutions, Ebtron, GE Power, and ITT Bell & Gossett. The building was commissioned by CxGBS.
Daikin Industries Ltd., donated several heating and air conditioning systems, plus funding for the first reception area (the Daikin Reception Area), and a vegetative roof garden (the Daikin Sustainability Garden).
“Daikin Industries is pleased to be a partner in the ASHRAE Headquarters Renewal Project, which is helping to preserve resources for current and future generations,” said Kosei Uematsu, senior executive officer, Daikin Industries Ltd., and president of Daikin U.S. “As a member of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations, we are committed to providing energy-efficient and sustainable building solutions by ensuring environmentally conscious practices in all business, product development, and manufacturing activities.”
The living lab will be used for experimentation, research, and testing. Visitors can access detailed data on the operation of the systems on a large plasma screen mounted in the lobby.
Daikin’s donation, installed by contractor Batchelor and Kimball, included a VRV® III variable refrigerant volume heat recovery system, VRV S variable refrigerant volume heat pump system, SkyAir heat pump system, and a mixture of Daikin ducted and duct-free fan coils. A Daikin Intelligent Touch controller, a BACnet® gateway interface, and the 24-hour online remote monitoring system were also specified for the installation.
John W. Conover IV, president of Trane’s commercial systems business in the Americas, said that 640 Trane associates are members of ASHRAE. You could say the manufacturer has a deep internal interest in the society.
Conover said that increasing interest in energy costs and global warming are combining to raise the influence of HVACR professionals. Increasing the energy efficiency of systems within buildings “is the biggest opportunity we have in the United States,” Conover said. “It’s a much better investment.”
The keys to making sure results are delivered as promised, he said, are good project management, good monitoring, and continuous commissioning. The latter, particularly, could become the “next big thing” to help control mechanical systems - in addition to self-diagnostics and intelligent analysis.
PUT UP OR SHUT UPAccording to Harrison, “Sustainable buildings ultimately mean preserving resources for future generations.” Employing the design of energy-efficient buildings with sustainable materials now, he said, “lets us reap benefits for many years to come.”
He continued, “As innovators in energy-efficient technology, ASHRAE felt our headquarters should serve as a showcase of sustainability. The resulting design truly reflects that sentiment, as well as how ASHRAE standards and guidelines put into practice, result in a high-performing building.”
“Buildings use far more energy in the U.S. than cars and transportation,” he added. Energy will be a problem in the future, too.
In order to make efficiency gains at this point, Harrison said, “it’s more of a question of system efficiency, instead of just components.” It also means taking care of the system during its lifetime. “Poor operating procedures can lead to all sorts of operating conditions,” he said.
The renovated building is 32 percent more efficient than would have been required by efficiency standard 90.1. There’s a 20-kW PV array on the roof, donated by Georgia Power. There’s reflection lighting, biosoils to reduce site water runoff (also providing cleaner runoff), and light sensors for the parking lot lighting. Green roof vegetation provides its own carbon offsets. For the sake of the people working there, 90 percent of the staff has direct views to the windows. And even though most workspaces are familiar cubicles, there are private spaces for conference calls - helping reduce office noise pollution.
The society is shooting for LEED platinum status, but is expected to at least achieve gold, setting a good example for the industry and building owners worldwide.
“All of us together - ASHRAE and contractor associations - have to work together to get the message to the marketplace and politicians,” Conover said.
Sidebar: HQ NotesASHRAE moved to its current headquarters in Atlanta from New York in 1981. The 31,000-square-foot building, which houses some 100 employees, was built in 1965. In 1987, ASHRAE moved in; the 34,000-square-foot structure was first renovated in 1987, and again in 1991.
Major contributors to the headquarters project included Automated Logic Corp./Automated Logic Georgia, ASHRAE Foundation, Carrier Corp., ClimateMaster Inc., Daikin Industries Ltd., Southern Co./Georgia Power Co., and Trane. Partners also included Aircuity Inc. and Interface FLOR.
Additional donations came from Allsteel/Ivan Allen; Mark H. Brandli/design principal for Richard Wittschiebe Hand; CxGBS; Dynamic Air Quality Solutions; Ebtron Inc.; GE Power; Bill and Margaret Harrison; Bruce Hunn, ASHRAE’s director of strategic technical programs; ITT/Bell & Gossett/James M. Pleasants Co.; NorthWrite Inc.; PolyCon Manufacturing; Thermal Gas Systems Inc.; U.S. Green Building Council; and VFA Inc.