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2023-2024 ASHRAE High School Design Competition

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2023-2024 ASHRAE High School Design Competition

Overview | Owner’s Requirements | Design Guidelines | Abbreviations and Definitions | Design Resources |   Submission Requirements | Judging Criteria | Timeline | Awards

 Questions? Submit them here

Congratulations to the 2023-2024 ASHRAE High School Design Competition Winners!

1st Place: East Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2nd Place: A. J. Dimond High School, Anchorage, Alaska
3rd Place: Mayoor High School, Noida, India

Welcome to the world of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) design. This competition will expose students to the process that designers and engineers go through when developing building systems and provides the opportunity to take the first steps in designing a building’s HVAC system.  ASHRAE is a global engineering society that supports the HVAC industry.  To learn more about ASHRAE please go to

As you work through this competition you will use an engineering design process that will involve systematic problem-solving with criteria and constraints.  This process is used to develop multiple solutions to the problem described, and then require you to narrow those possible solutions to find one final solution for your design. 

Owner requirements, design assumptions, a general building description, heating loads, equipment information, necessary equations, and ductwork sizing information is provided to assist you in your design efforts.

Competition Objective:

The 2023-2024 ASHRAE High School Design Competition focuses on the design of a new classroom wing addition to an existing High school located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Participants in this competition are tasked to determine summer cooling requirements for the different spaces in the building, select the HVAC equipment to be installed, and model the building and systems utilizing 3D Design Software.

Owner’s Requirements

Building and Space Descriptions

                School.” is a grade 8-12 school located in Buenos Aries, Argentina, needing a classroom addition to their high school. They have outgrown their space and are interested in constructing a new addition with dedicated heating and cooling. The new addition shall comprise of two classrooms, two restrooms, one storage room, one teacher workspace, and one small breakroom with a warming kitchen.

  • Classrooms: The teachers would like to make sure the classrooms have adequate space for the number of students. Their current space is very congested and overcrowded. Each new classroom will be occupied by 20 students, 1 teacher, and 1 teacher aide. Each teacher needs adequate desk space, which are typically 30” by 42” in size.  Each student also needs a small desk. High ceilings are preferred in classrooms.
  • Computer Space:  A dedicated space for ten computers is also required. 
  • Breakroom: require cooking appliances in their break room and space for four people to sit and eat during lunch.
  • Storage Room: must be at least 150 square feet (SF); ideally located centrally between the classrooms
  • Teacher Workspace: must seat four people at a small conference table and have space for a bookshelf and a copy machine; ideally located centrally between the two classrooms.  
  • Restrooms: preferably in an area that is easy for everyone to access. Provide enough fixture to accommodate needs of all occupants

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Considerations

One of the complaints that the teachers have about their old classrooms is that the air conditioning equipment was located on the roof, right above their classrooms and it made a lot of noise. Show in your model where you would recommend locating the equipment to reduce noise concerns.  .  Describe and show ceiling heights, duct work, locations, furniture layouts, and types of HVAC equipment provided.

Another request from the teachers is adequate light. Their old classrooms all had a lot of windows to let in natural light, and they would like to apply this to their new space.

The teachers have noted they would like the air conditioning system(s) to be able to maintain a space temperature of 75°F in all spaces in the new addition so that it will be a comfortable environment for the children to learn in.

Design Guidelines

Climate and Weather Considerations

Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, experiences a temperate climate with distinct seasons. Summers in Buenos Aires, which last from December to February, are hot and humid with temperatures often reaching the high 80s°F (30s°C). Winters, from June to August, are mild with temperatures averaging in the 50s°F (10-15°C), occasionally dropping lower. Spring and autumn bring pleasant weather, with temperatures ranging from the 60s°F (15-20°C) to the 70s°F (20-25°C). Having certain rooms in specific locations is a very important aspect of the building layout, along with window sizes and locations. Keep in mind that building shape and proper orientation can help reduce the energy costs associated with air conditioning the spaces. Show door and window locations in your models.

System Selection and Sizing Guidelines

Note that airflows to spaces and buildings are generally sized based on peak design conditions. A building space gains heat from many different internal and external sources, such as lights, occupants, solar radiation, and the difference in temperature from inside to outside. The sum of all these sources is referred to as the heat gain for the building. In the summer, the peak cooling load is the amount of heat you need to remove from a space on the hottest day of the year to maintain a room’s temperature.  Heating and cooling loads are typically expressed in units of measure such as BTU/hour or watts.

While building HVAC systems are designed to operate at peak loads, this typically only occurs for a short period of time for the year, so designers and engineers will include the ability to vary the amount of heating or cooling that is provided at a given time in their designs to improve building energy efficiency. Be creative, consider all owner requirements and how they apply. Be thoughtful of building orientation, equipment placement, and ductwork routing, both supply and return, from a space.

Take into consideration the Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ), to include, air (IAQ), noise and sound levels in spaces, and daylighting.

Abbreviations and Definitions

The abbreviations and definitions provided below will help you better navigate through the equations and design information provided:


British Thermal Unit: unit of heat defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.



British Thermal Unit per hour: rate of heat energy over time.  HVAC systems are provided with a capacity to add or remove heat in BTU/H.



Cubic Feet Per Minute: unit used to express the volumetric flow rate of air



The controlled admission of natural light into a building to reduce electric lighting and save energy as well as increase space IEQ


ΔT = T1-T2 : the difference in temperature between two surfaces.  This could be the inside to outside temperature of the wall, etc.



Indoor Environmental Quality: conditions related to the health of those who occupy it. Factors include lighting, comfort, air quality, and noise


Indoor Air Quality: relating to the quantity of pollutants in the air


Lighting Power Density: lighting heat gain per square foot of floor area


Heat transfer rate expressed in the unit BTU/H



Rooftop Unit: A packaged air handling unit mounted on a roof which discharges conditioned air directly into the rooms below or through a duct system



Shading Coefficient: A measure of thermal performance of the window


Solar Cooling Load Factor: takes into account the project location (latitude) and the window facing direction (North, South, East, West) to better estimate radiant heat gain through a window.


Square feet:  unit used to express Area


A unit used to express the capacity of cooling a system or equipment can provide.

One Ton is equivalent to the amount of heat required to melt one ton of ice over a period of 24 hours.  1 Ton = 12,000 BTU/H



The rate at which a window, door, or skylight conducts non-solar heat flow.



HVAC system that controls the temperature within a space by varying the flow of heated or cooled supply air to the space



A Watt is a standard unit of power and is the equivalent of one joule per second.



Design Resources

Using the information below, determine the required air conditioning unit capacity. Refer to the table below listing unit dimensions and supply airflow rates for different capacities. Note that you might want to utilize more than one unit to meet the air conditioning needs. Your model should include the air conditioning unit(s) shown on the roof with the correct physical dimensions, as well as the ductwork necessary to distribute the supply and return air to each area.

Available Air Conditioning Unit Schedule






Dimensions: Length x Width x Height





5 x 3 x 3




6 x 3 x 3




6 x 4 x3




7 x 4 x 3




9 x 5 x 4




10 x 5 x 4




12 x 5 x 4


Ductwork Sizing Table

Airflow Range


Size Options: width x height


0 - 300

8x8 or 6x10

301 - 550

10x10 or 8x12

551 - 850

12x12 or 10x14

851 - 1,300

14x14 or 12x16 or 10x18

1,301 - 1,800

16x16 or 14x18 or 12x16

1,801 - 2,600

18x18 or 16x20 or 14x24

2,601 - 3,200

20x20 or 18x22 or 16x26 or 14x30

3,201 - 5,000

24x24 or 22x26 or 20x30 or 18x34


Design weather conditions from ASHRAE:

Buenos Aires, Argentina (Ezeiza Int. Weather Station): 89.9°F (32.2oC) outside in the summer


Heat Gain Tables

Sources of heat gain and their respective rates/quantities to utilize for cooling equipment sizing






Space Type



























Conference Room



























*Watts per each


*BTU/H per Person

Insulation of surfaces:


Window Surface Cooling Factors in Buenos Aires (Latitude -36):



  • Assume you need 0.045 cfm per peak BTU/H. 
  • Assume 400 cfm/ton when sizing the RTU. 



  • Don’t forget to include heat gain from lighting, equipment, and people – use the heat gain tables above!

Submission Requirements

Summary of Requirements

  • Teams must come up with a unique school name for use in replace of “                School”
  • All work must be completed by students 13-18 years of age
  • Model must be submitted using SketchUp (

*Your model may be generated in other programs and then imported into SketchUp for final submission.

  • The model must be original and not a copy or recreation of any other work.

Submission Deadline

The deadline for submissions is midnight eastern standard time December 30, 2023. The finished model should be downloaded as a .skp file and uploaded along with the student’s information and a brief narrative.

Files for Submission shall include:

  • Model to show walls, windows and doors as well as HVAC equipment and ductwork.
  • Narrative to include description of the process used to develop the model.  Narrative to be 2-4 pages in PDF format.
  • Narrative to include appendix with backup calculations used for sizing of equipment. (Appendix do not count against your narrative page limit)

Judging Criteria

  • Does the model meet the building owner’s requirements?
  • Were any of the additional desires of the building owner addressed?
  • What level of modeling skill is demonstrated?
  • How creative are the solutions to the various challenges with the building design and layout?
  • Does the model represent something that can be realistically constructed (i.e walls, windows, doors)?


  • Competition opens: August 1, 2023
  • Registration deadline: November 30, 2023
  • Submission instructions and FTP site information will be emailed to all registered teams on December 1, 2023
  • Submission deadline: December 30, 2023
  • Winners announced on March 1, 2024 and awards to be send out shortly after


  • 1st place: $1,000, a plaque, and recognition in Insights
  • 2nd place: $500, a certificate, and recognition in Insights
  • 3rd place: $300, a certificate, and recognition in Insights

The ASHRAE Student Activities Committee will evaluate all entries and select the winners. Awards will be sent to applicable Student Activities RVCs (Regional Vice Chairs) to be presented at their Regional CRC (Chapters Regional Conference) or Chapter meeting.