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Preservation on Location

Article_Coffield.jpg

©2017 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 59, no. 9, September 2017

By Brian Coffield, P.E., Associate Member ASHRAE

About the Author
Brian Coffield, P.E., is a principal and lead mechanical engineer at SmithGroupJJR in Washington, D.C.

The nation’s largest non-profit regional environmental organization, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is dedicated to restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay by advocating and litigating for effective regulations, conducting hands-on habitat restoration projects, and educating the general public about the Bay and solutions to restore it. A partnership between CBF, the City of Virginia Beach, and the Trust for Public Land preserved a 118-acre (48 ha) parcel along the southern portion of the Chesapeake Bay for open space and environmental education. The author’s firm was tasked to create a model for sustainable design with CBF, to design the 10,500 ft2 (975 m2) Brock Environmental Center to house staff offices, meeting rooms, and an 80-seat conference room.

The client’s aspirations for the new center was to create the greenest building possible by achieving not only LEED Platinum certification but also Living Building Challenge (LBC) Certification. Locating the Center on an ecologically sensitive site allowed CBF to implement its advocacy, restoration, and education efforts in one location, but also necessitated appropriate environmental goals: to protect, preserve, and celebrate this setting, creating a design of its place, while simultaneously showcasing innovative technologies that contribute to net zero energy, water, and waste.

 

Energy Efficiency

The Center was designed to achieve net zero energy. To achieve net zero, the design takes advantage of passive measures to minimize the building energy loads and meets the resulting demand using high-performance equipment and supply power to the building from photovoltaic (PV) and wind turbine renewables on site.

With a blank site to work with, the design team sought to maximize the passive strategy energy impacts related to building orientation, shape and glazing holistically to find the best overall balance that minimized envelope loads while maximizing daylighting and natural ventilation. All design team members participated in modeling passive energy conservation strategies.

This iterative and collaborative work allowed the team to fine-tune the building to find the perfect balance of energy reduction. The end result was Brock Center’s one-story, long and narrow footprint, which is oriented on an East-West axis, maximizing opportunities for daylighting and natural ventilation. The exterior envelope modeling optimized the wall, roof, floor and glazing performances (R-31 walls, R-50 roof, R-7 triple-glazed/argon-filled windows) to significantly reduce heating demand.

To minimize cooling loads, windows were carefully placed and frugally sized (25% window-to-wall ratio) to provide optimal daylight, views, and ventilation, without excessive heat gain from over-glazing.

Through extensive daylight modeling, the team worked to optimize natural daylight levels in the building while reducing direct sunlight penetration in areas where it could cause glare issues (such as in open workstation areas). Strategies such as reducing south-facing glazing, optimizing visual transmittance of the glazing, and the use of a south-facing exterior porch, all minimized glare in the building while north-facing windows and clerestories maximized diffuse daylight from the north. The interiors are open and loft-like, with 20 ft (6 m) ceilings at their peak, promoting daylighting throughout the space.

 

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