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©2014 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 56, no. 11, November 2014.

By Nicolas Lemire, Eng., HFDP, Member ASHRAE; Pierre-Luc Baril, Eng., HFDP; and Émilie L’italien Le Blanc, Eng., Associate Member ASHRAE

About the Authors
Nicolas Lemire, eng., is president and principal; Pierre-Luc Baril, eng., is associate and design engineer; and Émilie L’italien Le Blanc, eng., is design engineer at Pageau Morel in Montreal.

Because the mechanical system supplying the lab area of the Otto Maass Building at McGill University in Montreal had not been renovated since 1964, the building was one of the largest energy consumers on campus. Following a renovation, building energy consumption dropped from 13% to 5% of the total energy consumed on the entire campus.

Sixty percent of the building’s 140,000 ft2 (13 000 m2) is labs. Prior to renovation, in the laboratory area the average fume hood density was 19 chemical fume hoods per 5,000 ft2 (465 m2). The building’s ventilation system operated at a constant flow rate of 135,000 cfm (63 700 L/s) and operated 24/7. Steam was generated from the power plant (natural gas) and a 850 ton (2990 kW) local chiller was located in the penthouse.



The 2009 renovation included 37,500 ft2 (3500 m2) of laboratories and all mechanical rooms and distribution shafts serving laboratory areas. The objectives of the project were to improve safety and comfort for the users, increase energy efficiency and flexibility, and maintain operations while retrofitting labs. The building had to be highly energy efficient while providing improved air quality to occupants and minimizing impact on the environment. Design conditions in Montreal are –20°F (–28.9°C) in winter and 88°F dry bulb/75°F wet bulb (31.1°C/23.9°C) in summer.

The biggest concern was maintaining a safe, secure, and healthy environment for users while replacing all HVAC equipment. One solution was to install temporary HVAC systems in the courtyard to supply the spaces that were left occupied.

To provide adequate air quality to researchers and students, it was necessary to carry out the work in phases. Four temporary 100% fresh air ventilation systems with a total capacity of 120,000 cfm (56 600 L/s) were installed outside the building to ensure a high level of air quality to the users. Temporary supply and exhaust ducts were installed on the exterior walls all around the building and served each occupied room.

During the year-long project laboratory work had to be carefully planned and scheduled so researchers had enough lab space to continue their experiments. At the end of the project, a total of 150,000 cfm (70 800 L/s) of capacity were installed (six supply systems of 25,000 cfm [11 800 L/s] each at 100% fresh air and six exhaust systems of similar capacity).

The energy efficient installations included:

  • VAV terminal devices and fume hood;
  • Motion sensors for light and fumes hoods;
  • Ventilation and fume hood face velocity;
  • Runaround glycol heat recovery loop;
  • Low temperature terminal reheat;
  • Low velocity system;
  • Reuse of office air for minimum ach required in lab space;
  • Precooling of exhaust air; and
  • Heat recovery from major server room located in the adjacent building
    ( ±1,025 kBtu/h [300 kW] ) 24/7.

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