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US building claims achieving net-zero goal

HVAC manufacturers donate expertise to help vie for Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum and Sustainable Sites Initiative recognitions

| | Jul 11, 2012 | 12:12 pm
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HVAC manufacturers donate expertise to help vie for Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum and Sustainable Sites Initiative recognitions

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, dubbed the largest Living Building Challenge project in the United States, has opened in Pittsburgh. Announcing this, air curtain manufacturer, Berner International revealed that more than 10 HVAC industry manufacturers partially donated equipment that contributed to the conservatory achieving its net-zero energy goal. Berner added that as the centerpiece of a $23.5 million expansion project at the 119-year-old non-profit conservatory, the 24,350-square-foot CSL will be the largest building in operation pursuing Living Building status in the country when it is reviewed for the status after one year of recorded data, and will meet or exceed the world’s three highest certifications for sustainable structures and landscapes – Living Building Challenge status, LEED Platinum certification and Sustainable Sites Initiative. The CSL, reportedly, seeks to be a net-zero energy and sustainability role model for future buildings.

Berner explained the finer points of the project while highlighting the contribution by various companies: Aided with the HVAC manufacturer consortium’s innovations, two Pittsburgh firms, The Design Alliance Architects, and MEP consulting engineering company CJL Engineering, spearheaded the facility’s net-zero energy strategy. The design team incorporated energy recovery, geothermal, natural ventilation, solar photovoltaic, vertical axis wind turbine and other technologies, resulting in minimal input from municipal water and power utilities. Excess onsite electric and water production will be used to supplement neighboring buildings on the 13-acre site. The heart of the building’s HVAC is the Tricoil energy recovery system by Sensible Equipment, Orlando, Florida, installed by mechanical contractor, SSM Industries, Pittsburgh, while Berner itself has assembled and coordinated green OEM HVAC equipment and suppliers for the Tricoil portion of the project. Assembling the equipment within the region supports the Living Building Challenge PR8 Materials Radius requirement. The 12,000-cfm Tricoil supplies both enthalpy wheel dehumidification and mechanical dehumidification via a patented recuperative loop that pre-cools and reheats outside air requirements. The system, which is supplemented by the building’s natural ventilation and under-floor ductwork air displacement strategy, also provides air conditioning and heating with help from energy recovery. Its water source heat pump is supplied by a 14-well vertical geothermal field installed by Western Pennsylvania Geothermal Heating & Cooling, Saxonburg. A building automation system by Automatic Logic, Kennesaw, Georgia, monitors and controls all building environmental conditions. The other green HVAC equipment donated to the project is electrical components by Chess Electric, Girard, Ohio; rooftop curb by Conn-Fab, Uncasville, Connecticut; filters and filter glide pack by Filtech, West Homestead, Pennsylvania; exterior panels, doors and view ports by ITM4, Buffalo, Minnesota; compressors by Liqua-Chill, Oakmont, Pennsylvania; coils by Luvata/Heatcraft, Grenada, Mississippi; and fans by Pennbarry, Lebanon, Indiana.

“The design uses sustainable equipment and concepts readily available today, but what’s unique is the unprecedented combination of all this equipment into a net-zero energy application,” said Alan Traugott, principal, CJL Engineering.

Kenneth L Eiermann, principal, Sensible Equipment, and inventor and patent holder of the Tricoil, added: “In preliminary design meetings we (HVAC manufacturers) thought net-zero energy might be insurmountable, especially in terms of air conditioning, but once everybody started conceiving of the sustainable possibilities within their own custom manufacturing capabilities, it was an exciting and viable challenge.”

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