ATLANTA — The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) 2011 Student Design Competition drilled students on their knowledge of HVACR system selection and design as well as integrated building design to encourage practical design.

This year’s competition featured a mock design of the Drake Well Museum located in Titusville, Pa., the site where Edwin L. Drake drilled the world’s first oil well in 1859 and launched the modern petroleum industry. Among the 20-plus entries from around the world, three were awarded first place in the three categories that the competition offers.

First place in HVAC System Design is awarded to Holly Brink, Michael Crabb, James Dougherty Jr., Andrew Gilliam, and Gina Halbom of the University of Nebraska. Their faculty advisor is Grenville Yuil, Ph.D.

After analyzing three system designs, the team chose a variable air volume system with heat and ground-cooled geothermal heat recovery chiller/heater. The higher initial cost of the system is countered by its overall efficiency, low maintenance, and federal tax incentives. The final system design outperformed baseline case energy by 33 percent.

The team noted, “Sustainability is a difficult achievement when considering the design for museum buildings. For HVAC design, the strict temperature and humidity requirements increase the amount of energy needed for tempering outdoor air. Also, the additional MERV filters that protect air quality increase the ductwork’s static pressure and thus increase the amount of fan energy needed for maintaining airflow. It is the team’s opinion that the positive aspects of the design outweigh the higher cost. These positive aspects help preserve the history of the nation’s oil industry while reducing the museum’s impact on the environment.”

First place in HVAC System Selection is awarded to Lynn Gualtieri, Evan Oda, Kristin Porter, Navid Saiidnia, Jeffrey Wong, and Cameron Young of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif. Their faculty advisor is Jesse Maddren.

The team chose a water-source variable refrigerant volume (VRV) system, which includes a ground-source water loop, a dedicated outdoor air (DOA) unit and humidifiers, as well as addition of a solar array. The VRV is split into two systems: a constant environmental control system for the collections areas and galleries, and a standard environmental control system for the offices, education center, auditorium and lobby. In each separate system, the latent and sensible load were decoupled — the VRV fan coils handle the sensible load while a DOA unit with humidifiers handles the latent load.

The setup allows the entire VRV system to control the indoor environment to specified conditions. The advantage of having two systems is the standard environmental control system can be completely shut off during unoccupied hours, which saves energy when compared to running a single large DOA at very low part load.

First place in Integrated Sustainable Building Design is awarded to Te Qi, Zhang Qiqi, and Chen Yuanyi of Tianjin University, China. Their advisors are Liu Junjie and Long Zhengwei.

The students integrated a ground-source heat pump for space conditioning and domestic hot water, optimized the fenestration (quantity, location, and type of windows), added a solar heat storage system with thermal solar collector, changed the building orientation to 5 degrees south to the east for more efficient orientation, and used thermal mass in walls to reduce heating and cooling loads.

The team had to build detailed energy simulation models, and according to ASHRAE, they demonstrated they understood synergy and compromise when they noted “as for modeling and simulation research, it is essential to integrate different modeling strategy to evaluate a building performance. Through this process, we find sometimes they contradict each other. However, they sometimes support each other.”

Publication date: 10/10/2011