Good airflow is critical at a nuclear power plant, both for safety and employee comfort. 

Officials kept that in mind when constructing the $13.5 million, 32,000-square-foot Energy Education Center for the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, about 45 miles west of Phoenix.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold level-certified facility incorporates a range of green HVAC  building concepts, including heavy insulation and shades on all the installed windows and the air-distribution system.

“We designed the facility to not only help officials with the dissemination and flow of information, but also make it as efficient as possible in terms of sustainability and functionality,” said Michael Conder, project director at Arrington Watkins Architects.

The facility uses displacement ventilation and underfloor air distribution, which both allow fresh, conditioned air to distribute properly throughout the center.

 “Our design team felt that underfloor distribution of air, power and data was going to be the best way to ensure flexibility for the multi-use functions of the building,” Conder said.

A displacement-ventilation system is similar to an underfloor system, in that is uses warmer supply air and lower pressures then a conventional overhead system.  As a result, displacement ventilation systems have many of the same benefits of underfloor systems, such as longer economizer-mode periods, potential energy savings from the warmer supply air and lower horsepower fans, and quieter operation.

The center features the TAF-R underfloor diffuser and the DVIR displacement ventilation diffuser from Titus. The DVIR is a rectangular displacement diffuser with a one-way discharge air pattern designed for flush-mount applications. Constructed of galvanized steel and aluminum, the DVIR is designed for in-wall applications and supplies a large volume of air at low velocities into the occupied zone. All components of the unit are constructed of a high-impact polymer material designed to resist damage from heavy foot traffic.

 “These products allowed us to have multiple mechanical zones in large open areas, accommodating temperature control at an individual scale, rather than the space as a whole,” Conder said.