continued on page 23
The green cycle: Sustainable
research findings create
sustainable research facilities
continued from page 17
By: Lindsay Hock, Editor
Five years ago, it was revolutionary to put chilled beam heating and cooling in a lab; but now this hydronic form of sustainable
HVAC is increasingly common in modern,
sustainable lab settings.
Chilled beams are operated where pipes
of water are passed through a beam, or heat
exchanger, either integrated into standard
suspended ceiling systems or suspended a short
distance from the ceiling of a lab. As the beam
chills the air around it, the air becomes denser
and falls to the floor. It’s replaced by warmer
air moving up from below, causing a constant
flow of convection and cooling in the lab.
Heating works in the same fashion.
The technology appeared in Europe around
30 years ago as an evolution of induction units
common in U.S. high-rise, healthcare and other
building types. Two immediate benefits of the
evolution were less static pressure, thus less fan
power, and a dry cooling coil that reduced mold
problems found in many facilities. Due to persistent mold concerns in the U.S., the concurrent
advent of energy-efficient variable air volume
(VAV) all-air systems in the U.S. and little communication between U.S. and European HVAC
designers, chilled beams largely went unnoticed,
according to Paul Erickson, PE, LEED AP, Principal, AEI/Affiliated Engineers Inc.
Mold wasn’t the only
issue. Engineers by nature
are conservative, and most
want to see systems in
action before buying in.
The critical nature of lab
environments give engineers even more reason
for concern. There were
also concerns regarding
condensation on the
secondary coils. “
Experimentation and experience
have proven the dewpoint
forms is lower than most
engineers anticipated, so
the ‘fear factor’ has been
mostly eliminated,” says
Dave Linamen, PE, LEED
AP, CEM, VP, Stantec.
It wasn’t until the last 10 years that U.S.
room minimum air change rates ( 6 to 8 ACH)
have come down to levels that make the use of
chilled beam viable.
The air-water debate
While most HVAC solutions for lab settings
are air-based, water-based solutions, like
chilled beams, are starting to catch on. The
biggest benefits of chilled beams are greater
energy and space efficiency. Because the ener-gy-carrying capacity of water is typically characterized as five to 10 times that of air, pipes
are used rather than much larger ducts. And
because the pumps for pipes use less energy
than fans for ducts, this saves energy as well.
Active chilled beams are increasingly used in labs to provide energy-efficient and
comfortable cooling. Room supply air is kept to the minimum air change rate
volume and is delivered via the beam to induce flow over the beam coil.
Images: Affiliated Engineers Inc.
main street corridor sports highly efficient and
flexible research labs, support spaces and collaboration areas, or “research neighborhoods.”
The 330,000-sf building houses the BioF-rontiers Institute, the department of chemical
and biological engineering and the biochemistry division of the department of chemistry and biology. These pursuits required a
technologically advanced facility, which would
require a highly complex design and build.
Finally, the Jennie Smoly building was to be
built to LEED Platinum certification, further
adding to the challenge. With the aid of technology like Building Information Modeling
(BIM), the team put their heads together to
deliver a standout project.
On top of being a cutting-edge educational
structure, the Jennie Smoly building operates
with minimal environmental impact. It features
variable-volume, high-performance, low-flow
chemical fume hoods interlocked with VAV
supply with reheat and VAV general exhaust.
The rooms also have cooling fan-coil units
and fin-tube radiation interlocked with the TC
system. The project team used high-performance
exterior walls that are well-insulated, using the
latest in energy-control glazing, and employed
solar shading to balance summer cooling needs
with beneficial winter passive heat gain. Other
mechanical components that increased the
building’s sustainability were high-efficiency
chillers, condensing boilers, evaporative cooling
and a run-around glycol heat-recovery system.
Finally, a heat harvester chiller was used to recover energy between cooling and heating systems
during simultaneous heating and cooling times.
All three of these projects faced unique
design-build challenges when it came to sustainability, but all three achieved the highest
LEED rating by employing unique construction
technologies, new waste recycling measures, the
latest in energy-control glazing, solar shading
and more. While projects are becoming more
complex by the year as new buildings are demanding more finesse and creativity, companies focus on being able to tackle new challenges and search for emerging opportunities.
Kevin Brettmann is Director of S&T at JE
Biochemistry Laboratory at the Univ. of Colorado –
Boulder Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building.
Image: Frank Ooms
LaboratoryDesign|JAN|FEB 2015 21