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Article-Longsine-R.jpg

©2015 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 57, no. 5, May 2015

By Matthew Longsine, P.E., Associate Member ASHRAE

About the Author
Matthew Longsine, P.E., is senior associate, Building Mechanical Systems at WSP, Seattle.

The Tacoma Center for Urban Waters is a three-story lab building that was envisioned by the City of Tacoma, Wash., to be a beacon on the water; an icon that can be seen from the downtown core; and an example of using building and site sustainable strategies that can set the direction for future projects in the city. The 51,000 ft2 (4738 m2) building functions as a shared research facility for the City of Tacoma, University of Washington, and Puget Sound Partnership.

During the mid-1990s, the City of Tacoma, Wash., in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) undertook a major cleanup effort of the Theo Foss Waterway, located just east of the city’s bustling downtown.

It took nearly 12 years to undo decades of pollution and sewage dumped directly into the waterway. At the completion of this undertaking, a new facility was proposed to maintain the cleanliness of the waterway and help restore, protect and maintain other water bodies throughout the Puget Sound.

This mix of scientists, engineers and policymakers helps implement best practices in serving the environment. The lab focuses on receiving and analyzing water samples from the waterways of Tacoma and surrounding areas, and 9,000 ft2 (836 m2) of the building is dedicated to laboratory testing and research.

This project was completed using an integrated, collaborative effort throughout design and construction with ambitious sustainable goals, and is now certified as a LEED v2.2 Platinum laboratory. The following design features were all critical to the successful implementation of this project:

  • Ground loop geoexchange heating and cooling;
  • Heat recovery;
  • Energy efficient lighting;
  • Daylighting;
  • Natural ventilation;
  • Radiant floors;
  • Low-e glass and exterior operable shading;
  • VAV low-flow fume hoods;
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures & rainwater harvesting;
  • Green roof; and
  • Energy efficient HVAC components.
 

Mechanical Systems

The building’s central plant consists of a 200 ton (703 kW) ground source water-to-water heat pump that combines with a geoexchange loop with 84 bore holes at an average of 280 ft (85 m) deep each. The water-to-water heat pump can simultaneously produce hot and chilled water that is pumped throughout the building. As a cost saving measure, the ground loop was sized for 100% of the heating load and only 75% of the cooling load. Therefore, a 70 ton (246 kW) fluid cooler was provided for peak cooling operation. After observing the building’s operation, the fluid cooler only operates two or three times a year.

Given the mixed occupancy of lab and office space, the building has been divided into two separate spaces that are conditioned by two separate system types. For the lab, a 60 ton (211 kW) variable air volume (VAV) air-handling unit (AHU) delivers 18,500 cfm (8731 L/s) of air to the space while two 21,000 cfm (9911 L/s) VAV lab exhaust fans have been provided that connect to the fume hoods, snorkels, bio-safety cabinets and general exhaust. A runaround loop was provided so the warm air from the exhaust system is transferred via water and serves as a preheat coil for the air handling unit.

 

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