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©2016 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 58, no. 5, May 2016

Steven R. Daley, P.E., Member ASHRAE

About the Author
Steven R. Daley, P.E., is a managing principal at Optima Engineering, PA in Charlotte, N.C.

Imagine the most intricate structure you’ve put together: a toy, furniture from Ikea, or something larger. Now imagine putting that project together without instructions, or with a diagram-less manual written in Sanskrit. Too often, this is exactly what we’re doing to our educational facility clients, when we hand over these progressive, high performance buildings to owners that aren’t equipped to handle them.

Even when owner training is properly executed, it’s sometimes ineffective because of maintenance turnover or understaffing at the district level. Districts are overwhelmed and unable to run these buildings at the premium efficiency at which they are designed. It’s like taking your new Bugatti to the same mom and pop mechanic who has changed the oil in your Honda, and asking for a tune-up.

Sandy Grove Middle School is in an elite class of buildings called “net positive,” that generate more energy than they consume. The school has an impressive net EUI of – 12.1 kBtu/ft2·yr (137.4 MJ/m2·yr). The 75,931 ft2 (7054 m2) facility combines energy-conserving practices with on-site renewable energy generation to produce more energy than the school requires on an annual basis.

SGMS was the first ever public-private partnership (PPP) financed school in North Carolina, and second of its kind in the United States. The building is owned and operated by a private sector developer, First Floor, and is leased to the school district. If there is a power bill, it’s the responsibility of the developer and the design team to pay that bill. This motivates the development team to continuously optimize and improve the systems in the building. Innovative design and construction features include solar photovoltaic panels on the roof, geothermal heating and cooling systems, high efficiency LED lighting, high performance glazing, and continuous spray foam wall insulation.

Sandy Grove Middle School, located in Lumber Bridge, North Carolina, opened its doors in August 2013 to provide a progressive education to 600 children. The school includes three wings of eight classrooms with mobile computing, a media center, an art room, an exploratory lab, a 450-seat gymnasium, a 258-seat dining hall, and a kitchen with two serving lines.

Sandy Grove was designed to LEED Gold standards (certification pending) and to all applicable ASHRAE standards and North Carolina State Building Codes. Project design was completed in July 2011. ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 established design conditions for Thermal Zone 3A and included summer design conditions of 96°F DB/77°F WB (35.6°C DB/25.6°C WB) and winter design condition of 18°F DB (– 7.8°C). The Southeast Thermal Zone 3A has a hot and humid spring, summer, and fall, and moderately cold winters. This certainly poses a challenge to designers and building operators for a net zero energy building (NZB). Load calculations and energy modeling were performed. Indoor design conditions are 68°F (20°C) winter and 72°F (22.2°C) at 55% RH summer setpoints. Temperature, humidity, and CO2 sensors monitor space conditions and control comfort. The ventilation rates for outdoor air were determined using ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2007 with the ventilation rate procedure for each space. The building operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a standard nine-month school calendar with minimal after-hour activities.

The HVAC system is comprised of distributed water-source heat pumps with a closed loop ground-source geothermal loop. The bore field is made up of 160 wells, 300 ft (91 m) deep and spaced at 30 ft (9 m), on-center, and serves a diversified cooling load of 209 tons (735 kW) and 84,300 annual cooling ton-hours (1067 GJ). Forty-nine water-source heat pumps (WSHPs) provide zone level temperature control for individual classrooms, gymnasium, media center, and kitchen/dining areas. The WSHPs that serve classrooms include sound packages to keep noise levels low.


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