Prevailing breezes are able to enter the building through a series of openable windows.
Ecolibrium: The Environmental NatureCenter uses the “site gifts” – that is,it takes advantage of the coastal windson Newport Beach and doesn’t requireHVAC equipment. Did you do modellingon this – how did you know you wouldbe able to naturally ventilate the spacewithout compromising comfort forthe centre’s visitors?Dan Heinfeld:
Yes, we did do modellingto understand the temperature variationthat the ENC would experience usingonly natural ventilation or the space.Given the site location and mostimportantly, the client, who was willingto accept a much greater range o temperature control in their space thatour typical clients, we eliminated allHVAC equipment.What we typically do is a “mixed mode”system, where HVAC equipment andnatural ventilation work together increating healthy indoor environmentsand energy savings. The idea is that whenthe climate allows, operable windowsare opened and a control located in thewindow tells the HVAC equipment thatthe window is open and turns o thesystem. We believe there are so many benefts o allowing users the opportunity to “open” their buildings, and we wouldbe doing it even without the obviousbeneft o energy savings.
Eco: “This building could have onlyhappened at this site, and thatmakes it beautiful and timeless.”What did you mean by this– whycouldn’t the building happensomewhere else?DH:
Our design process starts with athorough understanding o the site andlocal conditions, prevailing breezes, thesun pattern, rainall, climate conditions,etc. Once we do that we see what passivesystems can be used on the site frst andthose passive systems shape the buildingand our response to architectural orm.So the unique conditions on this siteshaped the building design and thereoremake it o its place and beautiul. Webelieve that by solving problems and notchasing ashion we will create projectsthat are beautiul and timeless.
Eco: How does the cooling systemwork? How does the air circulate?DH:
The prevailing breezes which comeo the ocean are allowed to enter thebuilding through a series o operablewindows. The windows are sizeddierently to allow the ENC to “tune”the space to ft the local conditions, wherethe amount o air can be adjusted by opening and closing windows. The coolair enters into the space and naturally rises as it warms and is vented out o thespace. This natural displacement o theair circulates the air through the buildingsection.
Eco: What about heating? Is thatrequired in California’s winters?DH:
The building is actually a netenergy producer, and small electricheaters are used during only the coolestwinter months by the sta or heating.The sta areas with the lower ceilingare the only areas where the heaters areused. The classroom building with theshaped roo and higher volume is muchbetter at controlling the temperatureswithin the space.
Eco: Why do blue jeans make goodmaterial for insulation? Has theconcept been around for a while?DH:
Yes it has, and one o the beneftswe didn’t think about originally wasduring the insulation’s installation.During the installation the installerswere not wearing masks and gloves, asthey do with a typical insulation project:not only were we using a highly recycledmaterial or our insulation we wereproviding a better work environmentduring construction. Bo Glover, the ENCdirector, told me that was the day whenhe knew we were really doing somethingspecial at the ENC.