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©2017 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 59, no. 6, June 2017

By Nate Eppley, P.E., Member ASHRAE

About the Author
Nate Eppley, P.E., is an associate principal at Integral Group in Oakland, Calif.

As a testament to their commitment to sustainability, Pomona College designed a highly efficient new science laboratory and renovated classroom building. By using best practices from Labs21, optimized daylight, and implementing enhanced indoor air quality, the principles of sustainable design were woven into every aspect of this 75,000 ft2 (6968 m2) building. All of this led to the building achieving LEED-NC v3 Platinum Certification.

Students are able to conduct experiments using state-of-the-art laboratories on the basement floor, while lectures are given to small- and medium-sized classes on the first and second floors. Offices complement the classrooms on these floors. Professors and students gather in the large colloquium for presentations from keynote speakers on topics of cutting-edge research.


Energy Efficiency

Laboratories inherently present challenges for energy efficiency, given the ventilation demands and high cooling loads from equipment. Key sustainability measures implemented to address these challenges include decoupled ventilation and heating/cooling systems, fully integrated waterside economizing, rooftop PV panels, an efficient building envelope, and integrated daylight harvesting controls. These features contributed to an energy savings of 47% compared to the ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 baseline and a projected EUI of 55 kBtu/ft2·yr (624.6 MJ/m2·yr) (without PV).

The mechanical system features two air-handling units providing 100% dedicated outdoor air for the building. The energy to condition this air is significantly reduced by using a heat recovery coil in the air-handling unit, which transfers energy between the building exhaust air and the supply air. Active chilled beams in the labs provide zone level cooling control. This allows for precise temperature control to each zone and minimizes reheat energy. Radiant ceiling panels, coupled with ceiling fans, provide heating and cooling in the offices and classrooms. A medium-temperature chilled water loop delivers sensible cooling to the air handlers, chilled beams, and radiant ceiling panels.

The efficiency of the chillers was significantly increased by elevating the chilled water temperature used for cooling to 58°F (14.4°C), resulting in decreased compressor energy consumption compared to typical, lower temperature chilled water loops. When needed, a separate, low-temperature chiller supplies chilled water to the air handlers for dehumidification. To minimize energy associated with reheat during dehumidification, the air handlers are provided with wrap around coils. All chillers are fed by cooling towers provided with fully integrated waterside economizing.

Daylighting was also a pinnacle focus of the building design. Clerestory windows in the roof monitors were used to provide daylight to the central corridor. Despite laboratories being located on the basement level, light wells were incorporated to provide daylight to spaces that were not light sensitive. A narrow floorplate allowed all normally occupied spaces to be daylit. Openings from the second to the first floor allowed this daylight to penetrate even further. Coupling this strategy with LED lighting resulted in 60% lighting energy savings compared to ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2007.


IAQ and Thermal Comfort

Optimizing thermal comfort was a focal point of the HVAC design. With the high air change rate requirements of labs, overcooling is a common occurrence. To avoid that problem, the ventilation and cooling were decoupled, which allows the central air handlers to provide only tempered ventilation air. As heat builds up in a particular space, the chilled beams can react locally, optimizing comfort and minimizing wasted energy.


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  • 04 Jun 2017 | James B. Robinson
  • I have just received my first Handbook- 2017 Fundamentals- and reviewed the content;great job! I look forward to receiving the complete set to add to my Hvac reference library. I am also interested in joining one of the technical committees to network and share my career experience with others. Once I have decided which committee is best suited for my industry experience, I will submit the appropriate application to Ashrae. While I am extremely busy here in Texas, I will continue to use this forum to express how very proud I am to be a part of such an important organization. Even though I have been a member less than a year; I currently enjoy all membership privileges both personally and professionally.
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