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©2016 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 58, no. 8, August 2016

Sarah Berseth, P.E., Member ASHRAE

About the Author
Sarah Berseth, P.E., is an associate vice president at Hammel, Green and Abrahamson in Minneapolis.

Energy efficiency was an overarching goal for the modernization of the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building. Every system, control strategy and design decision was made to reduce the building’s energy consumption and environmental impact. The primary objectives of the Whipple Federal Building modernization were:

  • Replace and modernize all of the existing mechanical, plumbing, fire protection and electrical systems.
  • Design systems that are at least 30% more efficient than Standard 90.1 – 2004 and at least 20% more efficient than actual data from 2003.
  • Achieve LEED Gold.
  • Sequence the replacement of systems to allow more than half the occupants to continue working in the building throughout the entire duration of construction.

The Whipple Federal Building met every project goal. The geothermal system, solar domestic hot water heating system, demand controlled ventilation, photovoltaics, intelligent lighting design, and modifications to the envelope now work in unison to create an extremely energy-efficient building (Figures 1 and 2). Using the energy cost budget analysis, the building systems were determined to be 46% more efficient than ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004, well beyond the original goal 30%. With its integrated design and high efficiency systems, the Whipple Federal Building is now positioned for the future as a regional and national model of energy efficiency.


Building and Site Information

The Whipple Federal Building is a 1969 government office building located in Fort Snelling, southeast of downtown Minneapolis. The building’s mechanical, electrical and life-safety systems have not undergone any major changes in the last 40 years. Occupying a 25-acre (10 ha) site, the 11-story building, represents an area of approximately 618,000 gross ft2 (57 414 m2). Typical spaces within the remodeled building include offices, conference rooms, a kitchen/dining area, detainee cells, forensics labs and courtrooms.


Modernization of Building Heating and Cooling Systems

The building renovation project had lofty energy-efficiency goals. However, the project team was working within an existing building and site/orientation. Minor modifications could be made to the building envelope but most of the energy-efficiency improvements would need to come from the newly installed mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The Whipple Federal Building is located on a unique site at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. During the preliminary design phase of the project, the engineering teams analyzed six different mechanical systems. A geothermal system rose to the top of the early systems selection process. A geothermal system with central heat pump chiller boilers and multizone variable volume AHUs was analyzed as well as a geothermal system with small, distributed, zonal heat pumps throughout the building. Both systems were energy efficient and had similar payback analysis results. Ultimately, the team chose the central heat pump chiller boilers over the small zonal heat pumps. The building operations team was concerned with the maintenance costs of the small heat pumps and the longevity of the equipment.


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Figure 1



Figure 2




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