<p xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">Donations of equipment, services, and furnishings from more than 20 companies, individuals, and the ASHRAE Foundation made the $7.65-million ASHRAE headquarters renovation possible. The total value of the donations was approximately $1.65 million.</p>

Donations of equipment, services, and furnishings from more than 20 companies, individuals, and the ASHRAE Foundation made the $7.65-million ASHRAE headquarters renovation possible. The total value of the donations was approximately $1.65 million.

Credit: courtesy ASHRAE

You can’t get very far in sustainable design without encountering the acronym ASHRAE. The Atlanta-based American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers has written many of the performance standards used in green building. It is an organization leading the charge for better, more-efficient buildings.

The renovation of ASHRAE’s headquarters serves as a living laboratory for building-efficiency techniques. Outfitted with the latest monitoring and control technology, the ASHRAE headquarters provides a glimpse into the future of smart buildings.

Renovation for Innovation

In 2004, ASHRAE examined its headquarters and knew it had to make a change. “We evaluated many alternatives, including leased space,” recalls Bill Harrison, former president of ASHRAE and president of Little Rock–based HVAC firm Trane Arkansas. “However, we wanted to demonstrate the very latest heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technology, so our negotiations with leased space always broke down when it looked like we’d have to settle for a typical HVAC system. We wanted a real state-of-the-art system.”

The decision followed to renovate the existing facility. “Our first goal was to provide a healthy and productive workplace for our staff. We tried to keep that in mind whenever we, a bunch of technology wonks, got carried away,” Harrison recalls. “The second objective was to create a living laboratory where our members could learn something about how buildings truly operate.”

With the help of donated systems and equipment, the renovated facility incorporates a number of sustainable features. Ground-source heat pumps, variable refrigerant flow systems with heat recovery, and a dedicated outdoor air supply with energy recovery and humidity control provide considerable energy savings. “Compared with the old building, we now use less energy on a larger building with longer operating hours.”

In addition, using low-flow and no-flow fixtures throughout the building reduced water consumption by 52 percent. Indoor air quality also was a major point of emphasis; the outside air delivered to each space is 30 percent above minimum air-exchange rates specified in ASHRAE’s 62.1, “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality.”

“Some of our systems are innovative, but they’re also ones that are being used out in the real world,” Harrison asserts. “On one floor we’re using a variable-refrigerant-flow heat pump system. On the other floor we use a ground-coupled heat pump system where the heat pumps transfer heat energy from the building to the ground during the summer and pumps heat energy out of the ground and into the building during the winter. The entire building is served by a dedicated outside air unit that uses dual enthalpy wheels to reduce the humidity of the air being introduced into the building so that the building always operates at an acceptable humidity level.”

<p xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">Sensors provided by Philadelphia-based Aircuity detect a broad array of indoor environmental parameters and work with the on-site building management system to create the best possible indoor environment.</p>

Sensors provided by Philadelphia-based Aircuity detect a broad array of indoor environmental parameters and work with the on-site building management system to create the best possible indoor environment.

Credit: courtesy ASHRAE

Lead by Example

In order to serve as a living laboratory, the building needed top-of-the-line monitoring and control systems to provide performance data. “It’s very difficult to communicate between so many systems,” Harrison says. “Consider that you have digital information streams coming from the heat pumps downstairs, the heat pumps upstairs, the dedicated outside air unit, the air monitoring system, the refrigerant monitoring system, and others. Our building automation systems vendor, Automated Logic, had to take all of those information streams and combine them into one.”

Not only were the data streams combined, in many cases they were tied into the control systems so it would be possible to operate the building on a minute-to-minute basis using fresh information. “One of the problems with monitoring is sometimes you’re overloaded with data,” Harrison says. “We hoped to use our automation system to filter some of that data.” The end goal was to generate digestible information, as well as continuous building optimization, from the raw data collected. For example, CO2 sensors in each room monitor the air quality and bring in outdoor air when specific set points are met. “There’s a certain amount of ventilation you need to take care of off-gassing from carpets, chairs, and furnishings, but then you need to increase that ventilation as people come into the room and give off CO2,” explains Steve Tom, director of technical information with Automated Logic. “That’s controlled by a CO2 sensor that adjusts the flow of the outdoor air into the room.”

Additional air-quality monitoring also is used in the building to establish a baseline and ensure the accuracy of the primary system. “We worked with a vendor that specializes in detailed air sampling. They have sensors throughout the building that monitor and make certain the air is being kept fresh,” Tom says. “It also tells you if a sensor is going out of calibration. If your primary system says the room is OK and the independent monitoring says it isn’t, you better take a look.”

<p xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">A rooftop solar array consisting of 170-watt photovoltaic modules, donated by Atlanta-based Georgia Power/Southern Co., produces electricity during daylight hours and feeds energy back into the existing grid.</p>

A rooftop solar array consisting of 170-watt photovoltaic modules, donated by Atlanta-based Georgia Power/Southern Co., produces electricity during daylight hours and feeds energy back into the existing grid.

Credit: courtesy ASHRAE

Environmental Index

Monitoring often can be all about the data, which does play into the facility’s goal as a living laboratory. However, ASHRAE never loses sight of its other goal—providing a comfortable environment for its staff. “There’s another aspect to performance monitoring that’s fairly new. We call it an environmental index,” Tom explains. “We’re monitoring the temperature, CO2, and humidity, and compare those to building set points and an ideal range to come up with a numerical scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being ideal. This shows how well the system is working in terms of providing a comfortable and healthy environment for people. By assigning a numeric value to the environmental index, we easily can compare different rooms or we can ‘roll up’ the room indices to calculate the environmental index for an area or for the entire building. This also lets us compare indices before and after we change a control strategy to see how that change affects the people inside the building.”

As important as the raw data and installed efficiencies are, monitoring ultimately is a means to an end; and that end is a livable interior environment. “Everybody is looking at energy because that’s the cost of running the building. But if you cut back on energy to the point where you’re not providing a comfortable environment, people won’t get their work done. So what have you accomplished? There are all kinds of studies showing a direct link between comfort and productivity,” Tom asserts. “The key is energy efficiency—providing a healthy and comfortable working environment at the lowest possible energy cost. If you only monitor the energy and don’t monitor the environmental index, you’re only getting half the picture.”

The renovated ASHRAE headquarters officially re-opened in October 2008, but the monitoring systems are still a work in progress. “Preliminary data shows a 30 percent reduction in energy use. They still have to do some fine tuning, and some of the systems are just coming online now,” Tom says. “We’re monitoring all the meters and analyzing what is working and what needs to be optimized.”

<p xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">A variable refrigerant volume system (VRV) serves the first floor and learning center. The non-ozone-depleting refrigerant, individual zone control capabilities and heat-recovery technologies all play a role in helping the facility meet its sustainability and energy goals.</p>

A variable refrigerant volume system (VRV) serves the first floor and learning center. The non-ozone-depleting refrigerant, individual zone control capabilities and heat-recovery technologies all play a role in helping the facility meet its sustainability and energy goals.

Credit: courtesy ASHRAE

“We finally are getting close to having our electric meters fully calibrated so the data is completely accurate. There’s been a lot of shaking out we’ve been doing before we go public with a lot of the information,” Harrison says. “The problem we face as an industry is how to take the massive amount of data generated by a building and convert it into information so people can interpret that into knowledge. Frequently we get so much data it just clutters up the screen.”

Along with building systems, building occupants also are being monitored in a sense. ASHRAE conducts regular surveys to make sure people are getting the most out of the new space. “In the old building, if you didn’t have an office on the outer edge, you never saw the outside. In the new building, no one is where they can’t see exterior light,” Harrison says. ”Everything I’ve seen says our people like the way the building feels.”

Materials and Sources:

Building management systems and services: Automated Logic, automatedlogic.com
Carpet: InterfaceFLOR, interfaceflor.com
Ceilings: Armstrong, armstrong.com
Concrete: Ready Mix USA, readymixusa.com
Flooring: InterfaceFLOR; Armstrong; Crossville, crossvilleinc.com
Furniture, seating: Allsteel, allsteeloffice.com
Glass: AGC
Gypsum, walls: National Gypsum Co., nationalgypsum.com
HVAC: Automated Logic; Climate Master, climate master.com; Daikin, daikin.com; Trane, trane.com
Insulation: Johns Manville, jm.com
Lighting control systems: Crestron, crestron.com
Lighting: Litecontrol, litecontrol.com; Zumtobel, zumtobel.us
Metal: WhiteHawk, whitehawkinc.com; Bec-Don, becdon.com; Gerdau Ameristeel, gerdauameristeel.com; MBA; Centria, centria.com
Paints and finishes: Pittsburgh Paints, pittsburghpaints.com
Partitions: Modernfold, modernfold.com
Pavers: Hanover Architectural Products, hanoverpavers.com
Photovoltaics: GE Energy, gepower.com
Plumbing, water systems: Rheem Manufacturing Co., rheem.com
Roofing: Firestone Building Products, www.firestonebpco.com
Sensors: Aircuity, aircuity.com
Siding: Centria Windows, curtainwalls, doors: YKK, ykkamerica.com; Glass Stream, glassstream.net; Vistawall, vistawall.com; Oshkosh, oshkoshdoor.com; Mesker Door, meskerdoor.com

Green team

Architect; interior designer; lighting designer; green consultant, LEED consultant and/or life-cycle performance partner­: Richard Wittschiebe Hand (RWH), rwhdesign.com
Client/owner: ASHRAE, ashrae.org
Mechanical engineer: Johnson, Spellman and Associates, jsace.com
Mechanical contractor: Batchelor and Kimball, bkimechanical.com
Structural engineer: Diana D. Quinn
Electrical engineer: Jeffers Engineering Associates
Electrical contractor: Gene Lynn Electric
Commissioning agent: CxGBS, cxgbs.com
Civil/geotechnical engineer, landscape architect: AEC, aecatl.com
General contractor/construction manager: Gay Construction, gayconstruction.com