ATLANTA — Designers of systems for a university building, a cancer center, an ice rink, and other commercial building have been recognized by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for incorporating elements of innovative building design.

The ASHRAE Technology Awards recognize outstanding achievements by members who have successfully applied innovative building design. Their designs incorporate ASHRAE standards for effective energy management and indoor air quality. Winning projects are selected from entries earning regional awards.

“Every year, the judging panel looks forward to reviewing the outstanding projects submitting by our membership,” said Nathan Hart, chair of the judging panel. “Being a consulting engineer myself, I appreciate the effort involved in submitting an entry to Society-level competition. I enjoy seeing what fellow ASHRAE members are doing to strive for more energy efficient, well ventilated, maintenance friendly building designs. Many of the entries this year incorporated innovations and technologies that took advantage of their specific geographical locations to provide more energy efficient systems — helping to highlight that one size does not fit all and that a more energy efficient design solution may be available when considering the project as a whole.”

Following are summaries of the winning projects:

Mountain Equipment Co-op

Roland Charneux, P.Eng., ASHRAE Fellow, ASHRAE Certified Healthcare Facility Design Professional, Pageau Morel & Associates, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, receives first place in the new commercial buildings category for the Mountain Equipment Co-op store, Longueuil, Quebec, Canada. The building is owned by the Mountain Equipment Co-op.

The Mountain Equipment Co-op store, a 2,600-square-foot single-story retail sporting goods outlet, was designed and built so as to have a minimal impact on the environment. Traditionally, artificial lighting contributes to a large part of the total energy consumption in commercial retail stores. It was thus decided to maximize daylighting through a series of clerestory with a saw tooth shape roof. Also, light sensors were integrated in the design to partially or completely shut down the artificial lighting when natural lighting is sufficient. Occupancy sensors were integrated in small spaces to completely shut off lighting when not in use.

Optimization of the envelope resulted in an envelope insulated near twice the recommendations of the Model National Energy Code for Buildings, thus reducing the overall energy needs for the building. Structural insulated panels (SIP) were used for their efficiency, tightness, and minimal construction time. Energy simulations showed a measured annual energy saving of 54 percent and cost savings of 57 percent.

Taking into consideration new, unpacked products that retail stores carry — which bring pollutants into the occupied zone — and racking which impedes good air distribution if supplied from the ceiling, air is supplied via underground air distribution with displacement ventilation diffusers at floor level. Additionally, the building utilizes active solid thermal energy storage in its concrete slab; an underground cistern to collect rain water and to feed the water closet, as well as waterless urinals; and natural/hybrid ventilation with leeward vents at roof level, to name just a few innovations. Overall, the new store consumes 57 percent less energy than the recommendations provided by the Canadian Energy Model Code.

IKEA Brossard Distribution Center

Ken Sonmor, Ecovision Consulting, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, receives first place in the existing commercial buildings category for the IKEA Brossard Distribution Center, Quebec, Canada. The building is owned by the IKEA Distribution Services, CA LP.

The extensive distribution center (79,750 square meters) belonging to one of the largest furniture retailers in the world consists of a warehouse, where goods are received, stored, and then shipped, along with adjoining office spaces.

On the lighting front, nearly 700 T12 high output (HO) lighting fixtures were replaced with a combination of T8 and T5 HO lights. An additional 510 high-intensity discharge fixtures were replaced with T5 HO fixtures with custom made reflectors to bring the light where needed. Motion sensors were installed throughout the entire facility shedding 250kW of lighting power. Luminosity sensors near windows in the office areas turn off lighting when not required thus harvesting daylight.

A 160T geothermal system is now the principal source of heat for the building. To attain the greatest possible efficiency, a dual maglev frictionless compressor heat pump was chosen. A greater number of wells than average maintain a very close approach with the ground temperature of 50°F. This higher temperature permits the reduction of glycol concentration which benefits the efficiency of the heat pump, the heat transfer through the vertical geothermal wells and lower pumping power. These improvements allow for a coefficient of performance of 5-7 in heating — representing a 50 percent improvement over a traditional geothermal layout. During a typical winter, the geothermal system is capable of supplying 70 percent of required heat.

The overall project thus provides greater comfort, with never-before cooling in the warehouse while realizing greater than 50 percent dollar energy savings.

Université de Sherbrooke

René Dansereau, Dessau, Longueuil, Quebec, Canada, receives first place in the educational facilities category for the design of the Université de Sherbrooke—Campus de Longueuil, Quebec, Canada. The building is owned by the Université de Sherbrooke.

With its 16-story glass tower built in the heart of Longueuil’s downtown area, the Université de Sherbrooke’s new campus building is one of the tallest structures on Montreal’s South Shore. The 650,000-square-foot campus includes classrooms, offices, and labs for nine faculties under a single roof. Its architectural design focuses on open spaces and gathering areas, such as a green roof “oasis,” to enhance a sense of community within the campus.

Determined to create an eco-friendly building, Dansereau and his firm took a unique approach to engineer the HVAC systems: Right from the start, designers chose an integrated design approach to the project. Though geothermal energy is rarely used in urban settings, designers connected a chiller to a geothermal system consisting of 37 vertical boreholes. The 165-ton screw chiller acts essentially like a heat pump and provides about 25 percent of the building’s heating and cooling capacity.

With average winter temperatures falling significantly below freezing in the Montreal area, fresh air treatment can be quite costly. To enhance energy savings, three enthalpy wheels were installed on new ventilation units. These wheels recover latent and sensible heat that is usually lost in exhaust air. With an efficiency rate of 76 percent, the wheels help reduce annual heating, cooling, and humidity demands.

Along with several other energy efficient innovations, energy consumption was reduced by 46 percent, consequently saving over $250,000 a year on energy invoices. Including subsidies, the return on investment for energy-saving equipment is approximately two and a half years.

Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre

Paul Marmion, Stantec Consulting, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, receives first place in the new health care facilities category for the design of the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre, British Columbia, Canada. The building is a Public Private Partnership (P3) sponsored and operated by Laing Investments Management Services (Canada). The building is owned by the hospital.

The Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre (ARHCC) is an acute care hospital built in the province of British Columbia. The hospital is a technologically advanced, 63,000-square-meter, $355 million, 300-bed acute care hospital with nine operating theatres, pediatric and maternity services, inpatient isolation rooms, medical imaging, and radiation cancer treatment facilities.

Marmion and his team were responsible for the design of the HVAC, plumbing, and fire protection systems of the hospital, helping to successfully complete the fast tracked health care facility on time and on budget. The building incorporates several features to conserve energy, one of which is two 900 ton chillers which are piped in a counter-flow configuration with chilled water temperature reset control to optimize energy efficiency, consuming a maximum of .5 Kw/ton of cooling. There was no incremental capital cost of adding the courter-flow configuration, resulting in an annual energy saving of $3,400, providing an instant payback. Additionally, the water use in the hospital has been reduced by 20.6 percent through the innovative use of dual flush toilets, even in the inpatient rooms, low flow lavatory and kitchen sinks, and low flow showers.

The ARHCC is running 56 percent below the Environmental Protection Agency’s energy benchmark, using just 153 kBtu/ft2 compared to the typical 350 kBtu/ft2 for a similar building. It has also been determined that the hospital is producing only 3,140 metric tons of CO2, compared to an equivalent facility which produced 8,470 metric tons of CO2. Ultimately, the savings in CO2 emissions is equivalent to taking 1,400 cars off the road.

Thermal Energy Corp. — Thermal Energy Storage

Blake Ellis, P.E., Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City, Mo., receives first place in the new industrial facilities or processes category for Thermal Energy Storage at the Texas Medical Center, Houston. The owner is Thermal Energy Corp., Houston.

In 2007, master planning determined that the cooling load of the 80,000 ton chilled water system that served the Texas Medical Center would double over the next two decades. With that in mind, the owner sought the most cost effective way to provide the increased quantity of chilled water to the campus while maintaining the high level of reliability to serve the critical needs of the medical center.

It was determined that thermal energy storage (TES) in a load leveling scheme was the most cost effective first step to meet the increased chilled water demand. This resulted in the selection of an 8.8 million gallon stratified chilled water storage tank; with a height of 150 feet, it is believed to be the tallest stratified chilled water storage tank in the world. Connecting such a tall tank that is open to the atmosphere to a closed chilled water system creates 65 psig of pressure at the bottom of the tank on both the chilled water supply and return lines connected to the tank. A traditional single direction pumping scheme could no longer be utilized and a unique simultaneous dual direction pumping scheme was created.

Conventional wisdom would indicate that a TES system uses more energy than an equivalent non-TES system. However, TES systems use slightly less energy (Btu or kWh) by shifting chilled water production from the middle of the afternoon when the highest wet-bulb temperatures of the day are experienced to the evening when wet-bulb temperatures are lower. The lower wet-bulb temperatures yield lower condenser water temperatures, which allow the chillers to operate more efficiently during the night hours when the tank is charged.

Energy savings during the first year were 7-9 percent in the summer and approximately 5 percent aggregated over the entire year. Energy costs were dramatically reduced due to the real-time pricing in Houston. During the first 23 days of August 2011, the owner saved over $500,000 in electrical energy cost due to very high ($3,000+/MW-hr) electric costs.

Arena Marcel Dutil

Luc Simard, Compressor Systems Control (CSC), Les Coteaux, Quebec, Canada, receives first place in the existing industrial facilities or processes category for the renovation of Arena Marcel-Dutil, St-Gédéon-de-Beauce, Quebec, Canada. The building is owned by the Municipalite St-Gédéon-de-Beauce.

In 2010, the arena was equipped with the first 100 percent CO2 based refrigeration system for ice rinks in the world. The existing R-22 chiller was removed, as well as the existing ice mat, and the concrete slab was retrofitted to install the new system. The system uses R-744 as both a primary and secondary working fluid, a natural, non-toxic, non-corrosive, and highly efficient refrigerant listed A1 in the B52 code. Because there is no secondary fluid, the evaporating temperature of the CO2 can be set at -7°C while keeping the ice sheet at -5°C. The result is an evaporating temperature higher than all other standard ice rink refrigeration systems.

The refrigeration system has a 3kW variable speed CO2 pump that reduces the power needed for circulating the cold fluid by 90 percent compared to secondary fluid installations. For a typical ice rink facility, the savings can be up to 125,000 kWh per year. The arena was also compared to similar projects in the area and was found to have a 25 percent reduction in total energy costs. Also, when comparing the new system with the old chiller using R-22, and considering an annual leak rate of 15 percent for the old system, the total greenhouse gas reduction associated with the new 100 percent CO2 refrigeration system is up to 100 tons per year.

Publication date: 12/19/2011