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A practical (and provocative) overview for HVAC designers, installers, and operators

HVAC Design
for Green Buildings
By WILLIAM BOBENHAUSEN, well-considered, reliable, logical, Others may be intrigued about
AIA, CSI, and cost-effective—put simply, sustainable design but have some
Director of Sustainable Design, with very good or intelligent design. tough questions to ask such as:
DEVASHISH LAHIRI, A small cadre of A/Es and
Engineer, HVAC contractors are now pro- ● Do sustainable buildings
Steven Winter Associates, Inc., ducing what can accurately be require more expensive HVAC
Norwalk, Conn., and Washington, D.C. called sustainable buildings. systems? If so, how can this
These professionals believe in increased cost be justified?

PAC and other trade jour- them fervently, and under the cur- Quick answer (QA)—For
nals have provided in- rent environment of enduring eco- most projects, the overall cost of
creasing coverage on whole nomic strength and environmen- the HVAC work will be less—of-
building design, sustainable de- tal advocacy, project opportunities ten quite a bit less. The use of
sign, integrated design, and green abound. However, many of you high-performance glazing, insula-
design. In terms of HVAC and en- probably have lots of conventional tion, and effective sun control can
ergy performance, I prefer to work to do and do not need to substantially reduce heating and
think of these as designs that are worry about sustainable design. cooling loads and the size of

Proposed Headquarters for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, N.Y. Developed by the
Picotte Companies for the State of New York Office of General Services. Gregory J. Seleman, PC, Architect. Quantum Engi-
neering, HVAC Design. Energy Analysis/Sustainable Design services by Steven Winter Associates, Inc. with funding by the
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Image courtesy of Architecture by Gregory J. Seleman, PC.

February 1999 HPAC Heating/Piping/AirConditioning 43

It means that openings such as roof monitors. what more are not daylighting (Fig. If that represents ers. the remaining two boilers they were adopted 10 years ago most commercial building types. buildings that ef- lived—particularly on complex a minimal goal. introducing the 15 to 20 cfm of economically viable. IES 90. and institutional buildings environmentally responsible. Most projects will fectively utilize daylight can systems. many HVAC systems are carefully designed. Board of Education. If oversizing and re- already designing to ASHRAE/ seen feature daylighting as a dundancy are needed. Merely meeting 90. and cost. for projects with a construction value 1989. and the New York City Departments of ties—30 cfm per person or more. However. computer modeling and analyses of building materials to building de- able design relates to maintaining sign teams.1 requirements with and associated costs. QA—First of all. had no problem in maintaining after undergoing years of public 30 percent or more of the energy comfortable space temperatures. installation and main- on IAQ in my facilities. I am building case studies I have chances. tilation can be. standards are outdated—particu. Trump. QA—Understood. while reducing annual carbon dioxide emissions by more greatly reduce this cost. including life-cycle cost analysis. ties management responsibili- ● Most of the sustainable ties. the intelligent ied can exceed the requirements of the New York State Energy Code by design of ventilation systems can 35 percent. enor.1 is eas. with four large coal-fired boilers. ulations regarding refrigerants For bottom-line-driven own. Blue Cross/Blue Shield.1. installed. Without an effective op. 1). the system performance little or no increase in construc- and related IAQ that are assumed tion costs. Since 1996. Green Buildings Services ● What obstacles to sustain- able design exist in terms of ventilation and plumbing con- T he cover image of the proposed Headquarters for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany. rated skylights into one of our never used it. good indoor air quality (IAQ) by industrial. I also follow all the reg. is just one of many projects funded by the New York State Energy Re- figurations? search and Development Authority (NYSERDA). program. I feel that I indoor air quality through use of low-emitting materials. Its goal is to help make new and rehabilitated commercial. However. NYSERDA has used $380. for over 10 years and have and ASHRAE 62-1989 Ventila. However. offer numerous opportunities to significantly reduce energy use erations and maintenance (O&M) exceed 90. Therefore. Results to date indicate that the energy efficiency of buildings stud- mous.1-1989 Energy Efficient key design strategy. Day. redundancy—and there is state-of-the-art practice and QA—Poorly designed skylights overkill.5 years. Donald even greater outside air quanti. Therefore. and often is. I have driven my car around Design of New Buildings Except as a design engineer. Clients select am pretty much up to speed products to be evaluated for their performance. I would be stupid to leave Quality. I cannot afford to take ● As a design engineer. N. but there is (CFCs. so be it. Some projects are calling for of more than $1 billion. I know with a spare tire in the trunk Low-Rise Residential Buildings that every time we incorpo.INTELLIGENT DESIGN HVAC systems and components required to meet these loads. that can be a tough sell. and technical requirements of those electricity—by far the most ex- commissioned.Y. the renovation plan was for 44 HPAC Heating/Piping/AirConditioning February 1999 . reusability. the cost goes to lighting that uses Still. QA—In an effort to provide good IAQ. This can be accomplished at an increase of less than 1 percent in construction cost with a simple payback of 3. pensive form of energy in most ar- sioned performance can be short larly 90. review and debate. than 5000 tons. home without it. ● As a facilities manager or The primary focus of the materials analysis component is improved building operator. In years. commis. and Office of Manage- The energy price tag for such ven. outside air per person recom. we have had to in. plans for an urban school building do I need to do? lighting is the sun-controlled en. mended in ASHRAE Standard 62. ment and Budget. durability. but I know that tion for Acceptable Indoor Air projects. NYSERDA provides QA—A large part of sustain. ● When it comes to my facili- may rapidly degrade. etc). Suggestions for missing something? alternative materials as well as lists of suppliers are also provided. think about try of natural light and the careful Even though two of the old boilers the “1989” attached to both of placement of windows and other had been out of operation for many those standards. crease the size of the chillers. Design and Construction. Consider the original good engineering.000 in federal funds to provide assistance. Am I tenance requirements. and healthier places in which to work. Clients include the Durst Organization.

ronmental goals may be identified gardless of context. 50. Green and universal elements in the pro. as described below: project depends. engi- Alex Zimmerman. The primary focus of this ver.) extensive south-faced sloped glaz. Building Council’s Leadership in cess of sustainability include: Energy and Environmental De- n A clear definition and holistic sign (LEEDTM) system or a compa- understanding of the design prob. it is sessment of what constitutes real. What about the shape today incorporate all of the In October 1998. But. Canada. rable environmental rating sys- tem. B. energy than conventional build. This. ing load based on the installation that consume 50 to 75 percent less One approach is to get prices from of new roof insulation and dual. and special consultants part. A more holistic ap- such as under-floor air sup. It is lem. let us not discount those as described above. design tech. One paper presented was en. Depending on gadgets entirely—especially some the type of project.C. an interna. was held in Vancou. approaches discussed herein. suppose a build- same capacity as the original boil. boilers. The contractors may even smaller boilers being specified. cantly from the norm. year—20. 100? Who knows? point out what a wise decision this Far greater societal benefits will is since the efficiency of the new ● Finally. and as a re. better improvement over the units to utilize fancy HVAC systems erated using some of the basic being replaced. particularly true for new build- tainable design of any particular ings. Luckily. Green Building Have you taken a good look at the sult. well and good for there to be “su. investment. and the need to upsize cooling sign for a new building or renova- system capacity. cooling energy gramming—Architectural de- use. built. which other building components QA—It is true that some of the may need to be replaced in the sustainable buildings taking The process foreseeable future. must define the design problem. I thought that a accrue from the thousands of units will afford a 15 percent or truly sustainable building had buildings designed. tional conference. the world to review and evaluate often a better course of action to ex- case-study examples of some of the amine integrated solutions that best sustainable buildings being significantly reduce heating and constructed worldwide as well as cooling loads. architect. or component re. more than 600 people from around attention in the near future. Challenge ’98. Environmental space pro- ing just adds to glare. on the Performance goals—For new particulars of the project—be it a buildings. and computer that can help offset the overall tools needed to produce such build. cost-effective ones team activities may vary signifi- that will be discussed later. But. in turn. This can be The process required for sus. tion project normally begins with February 1999 HPAC Heating/Piping/AirConditioning 45 . example. and windows. the common through use of the U. (For a copy of LEED. Other envi- units. methods. their assumptions are on tar. The www.. vative HVAC replacement options niques. garner the lion’s share of at. several HVAC installation con- glazed windows (replacing single.four replacement boilers with the world sustainable design. ings of similar size and use. the design of the newer.1. sustainable design principles and proach would be to determine plies and photovoltaic panels. ings. n An integrated and holistic de- titled It’s the Process—Not The sign process begins at a project’s Gadgets! by Theresa Coaly and inception. and op. Owner. get. For example. of course.S. allows to take part in a dialog on perfor. for a range of down-sized and inno- mance assessment. ing owner knows that the heating ers—despite a reduction in heat. energy performance single building or entire campus. windows or curtain wall lately? If tention. for gut renovation. chillers? What about the roof? latest technologies. tractors on replacement boilers glazed). 30 percent better than placement such as HVAC rooftop ASHRAE/IES 90. visit 1 How not to daylight a building. It attracted any of these components will need article is to provide a broader as. how many of those truly advanced with identical nameplate capaci- tervention resulted in much buildings are being designed this ties. For the most neer. Re. perstar” sustainable buildings system boilers need to be replaced. goals may be established a successful in.usgbc.

10 @ 120 sq ft 2b Transference. prudent to conduct detailed. specific tem- perature/humidity requirements). 2). Fortunately. continued on page 48 46 HPAC Heating/Piping/AirConditioning February 1999 . too often. hour- mend. can be used to study luminous con- taking shape. systems and ing is already performed widely. we have developed the concept of prepar- ing an Environmental Program- ming Matrix at the outset of the project that stipulates the envi- ronmental needs and potentials of these programmed spaces (desir- ability of daylight. and condensation. and holistic design strategy is. ough. Consider the John system or permits the downsizing poorly served by the value engi- Hancock Tower in Boston that re. integrated. 50. neering exercise. it is often just such a spaces such as atriums. For the most part. all design strategies that reduce combination that eliminates the Value engineering—In my loads are universally sustainable need for a perimeter radiation view. each). potential thermal bridging effects project are fully understood.1 is widely used to pocket or briefcase and a predispo. The exceptions. tion of component alternatives. and compu- gies to reduce the heating and good windows. manner.INTELLIGENT DESIGN a program of all of the required 2a Cooling load avoidance. tial design solutions. The sign decisions. Unfortunately. It is as if I have heat pumps by-hour energy analyses on most or some magic gadgets in my back projects of greater than 35. of heating and cooling plants. this it entirely based on experience. many owners have been or neighborly. Our office provides many sustainable design services to the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NY- SERDA) through its “FlexTech” program of technical assistance. insulation and the use of very rally lit environments. Only then should such as additional wall and roof ditions from artificially and natu- the design team focus on strate. pated the sun to approach from HVAC system selection—All such angles (Fig. or engi. in fact. Such model. more than isolated and simple phisticated construction details for ational needs and realities of the payback evaluations. Through these services. RADIANCE the schematic design solution is ple paybacks for certain items. Three-dimensional heat-flow pro- equipment options should not Sustainable design requires grams can be used to evaluate so- even be considered until the oper. hour-by-hour energy analysis pro. than normally deemed acceptable be used to study air flows in large Keep in mind. it can easily ing load transference since much puter design tools are now avail. are when value engi- cantly through the use of reflec.000 to gram DOE 2. Design development and per- tial project meetings where at some formance modeling—Once a point the owner.000 sq ft. The result is that the street. that not (five years). This is not the complexity and the range of poten. although the individual sim. I have participated in ini. and ple. designers never antici. Optimized design of complex however. 400 sq ft. however. a cool. mance and facilitate the evalua- way buildings should be designed. may be higher tational fluid dynamics (CFD) can cooling loads as much as possible. duces the cooling load signifi. depending on their simulate overall building perfor- sition to use them. examination rooms. Such a matrix can then assist the design team in developing concept plans that not only satisfy re- quired space adjacencies but also their environmental needs as well. a wide range of com. it is generally HVAC system I am going to recom. Otherwise. buildings is not all intuitive nor is neering is conducted in a thor- tive glass. become a process that second- of the reflected heat falls on the able to aid in the design of green guesses many fundamental de- north facade of the building across buildings and HVAC systems. spaces (conference room. building’s shape and form have neer has questioned me on which been established. architect. For exam.

humidity (see “gadgets”). stand that there is no sustainable 100 students? By using sensors ale for these decisions can easily building if the air quality is unac. that measure carbon dioxide and be overlooked when the original ceptable. buildings. truths. using design strat. The company publishes the 48 HPAC Heating/Piping/AirConditioning February 1999 . whereby outside air was supplied glazing). 7500 cfm of lowest initial cost. www.esource. Arti- lished by John Wiley & Sons.INTELLIGENT DESIGN continued from page 46 complaints from those in perime. 800-225-5945. Energy is important. The Somerset. The CREST Website is one of the most compre- hensive sources of energy efficiency information ■ E-Source. product and material mittees for local AIA chapters. But. for buildings and includes an extensive listing of 1033 Walnut St. ventilation design. NW. side air per person and was the References for Sustainability ■ American Institute of Architects (AIA). dampers and balancing of high-performance glazing en. mental Resource Guide provides detailed life-cycle hosts a Green Building Discussion Group. not only by from the roof via two central air reluctantly agree. organized on the basis of the CIS 16-division Products. duced without concern for IAQ as would extract an equal amount of abled the elimination of perimeter well as cleaning and maintenance outside air for each air handler at radiation (with commensurate products. seat 500 students and require. In substitution. Value engi. selecting materials with per person). EBN also publishes the EBN Products Catalog. Thus. Boulder. The Environ. available on CD-ROM. 28 Birge St. lost. pub. including manufacturers’ lit- able Technology (CREST). how much out- neers must take into account the fundamental. EBN in- Environment (COTE) as well as local COTE com.. Website contains excerpts from the Newsletter. The design engineer may IAQ can be affected. We consulted on an 11-story gon fill) to those used on most egies based on source control. as the capacity the occupants themselves. The current draft ad. 08875. CO 80302. with the lost in the shuffle.000 on the procedure to achieve perceived ac. air flows initial cost savings) is somehow overwhelm even well-ventilated were very unbalanced. Washington.aiaonline. If the recom. However. then we begin to under. the design team is not consulted. a value engineer. tional and international calendars of events. VT 05301.. contains a reference section on Green Building als. cludes a performance-based IAQ reduced through a demand-based ing team might put $30. 1 Wiley Dr.. sustainable design approaches ter spaces for years to come. air section of an office building buildings (conventional double cleaning. erature. health is outside air. est of producing a building at the Ventilation and IAQ when fully occupied. denda to ASHRAE 62-1989 in.000 will be saved. when the room is occupied by only sions. Inc. The AIA also pro. which contains extensive ■ Center for Renewable Energy and Sustain. NJ. but shafts and outside air fans that of the systems will allow for this also by new materials and fur. Some pollutant sources each floor. CREST also produces a number E-Source is a membership-based. formation on energy end-use technologies and re- lated application issues. The fact that the use nishings that have been 1735 New York Ave. An auditorium in a school may are often eliminated in the inter. If we accept these side air should be brought in reasoning for earlier design deci. share of outside air (over 15 cfm then $30. gassing problems. and both na- duced the Environmental Resource Guide. Unfortunately. www. and/or ventilation.ebuild. concept. The last six years of issues are now format. fed air handlers on each floor. certain limits. ■ Environmental Building News (EBN). table if the windows are changed ceptability and maintain levels of IAQ problems can arise when from those specified (perhaps specific contaminants at or below intended system design balance is high-performance low-e with ar.. amount of air brought in can be For example. cludes building case studies. the ration. the preferred upper floors obtaining the lion’s mended glazing change is made. 802-257-7300 202-626-7300 A leading monthly publication on environmen- The AIA sponsors a national Committee on the tally preferable products and systems. 303-440-8500 related www. www.crest. syndicated in- of educational programs and resources—many of formation service providing timely. DC 20006. and assessments of a number of construction materi. first step is source control—for ex. book and resource reviews. product information. ample. cles are geared toward building professionals. The lowest floor was this decision will waste energy low volatile organic compound receiving only about 2 cfm of out- and may result in discomfort and (VOC) emissions to avoid off.. analyses. independent in- which are available in CD-ROM format.

performance of a building project and provides a summary rating. or Platinum LEED ergy and resource efficiency issues in both the U. Steven Winter Associates. Many applications opinion between the HVAC engi. on many projects there is from the water vapor that nor. either a Bronze. we have begun recommend. Street. The use of condensing can be addressed through the use neer-of-record and the sustain. Ste. www. Snowmass. ■ U. electricity. refrigeration-pack- balances air distribution and is equipment—Conventional boil. sound. stall four more. Green Building Council. rity. thus avoiding condensa. regular and proper O&M on 14. of prescriptive. CO 81654. Gas-fired.S. if needed. ers and furnaces have annual technology and have many useful ing from uncalibrated controls. insti.psic. chase 10 boilers. Inc. charges.S. Depending on the num- Rocky Mountain Institute is a non-profit research ber of credits earned. technologies.and performance-based “credits” 1739 Snowmass Creek Rd. and design practices. Prepared by John Amatruda.rmi. ■ Passive Solar Industries Council (PSIC). PSIC offers a multitude of useful resources standards. and accelerated implementation of more affordable. commercial space cool. Gold. in urban set- ognizing this as a legitimate con. However. How. Building. a small side vent This type of design approach re. industry which promotes the understanding. HVAC engineer-of-record insists ment—Over 90 percent of the me- ever. DC 415-445-9500 20005. 110 Sutter St. require. The LEED system defines a set ■ Rocky Mountain Institute. aged units are based on reliable less subject to malfunction result. CA 94101. Some owners have begun chanical cooling systems in com- procedures cannot be assumed listening to both sides of the issue mercial buildings are driven by under many circumstances. related training materials. tutional. source books System. The institute offers numerous publications on ering the topics of lighting. while the Non-electric cooling equip- IAQ is being maintained. more by recapturing the heat cooling loads with the same pieces ample. which evaluates the environmental and resources. and workshops offered through PSIC. peak heating and cooling design where the rebuilding of a tall Under-floor air supply—This is a extensive five volume Technology Atlas Service cov. subject of our study to investigate loads that must be met (perhaps chimney would normally be re- IAQ complaints and moldy odors. the topics of energy efficiency and sustainable tech- ing. including information is currently developing the LEED Building Rating on software. 906. San Francisco. after using a detailed computer. and environmentally “Green Building” policies.1E). appliances can be particularly of desiccants and other methods able design consultant as to the useful in building renovations to control latent loads. 1000. absorption machines. as this type of system more easily Condensing heat producing compression. 1331 H.. Rec. of equipment. which can be earned by implementing various 970-927-3851 environmental measures. quired. ized modeling and simulation tool can be used to discharge the ex- quires regular O&M procedures such as DOE 2. www.. February 1999 HPAC Heating/Piping/AirConditioning 49 . Condensing appliances system designs attempt to ad- able design. space heating. steam is often available cern. while providing tings. Consider a haust gases. and appliances. 202-628-7400 A non-profit consensus coalition of the building The PSIC advances the design of residential. nologies and strategies. programs. F or more. a building will be rated as and educational foundation which specializes in en. and commercial buildings—making them development. NW. The organization for solar design and building. fuel utilization efficiencies applications—especially in areas (AFUE) in the 80 to 85 percent with high-peak electrical demand Systems and equipment range. from utility companies to drive ing additional outdoor air intakes. thus saving on both to verify that the controls and case where a consultant might first cost (materials) and operat- dampers are functioning properly recommend eight modular boilers ing expenses over time. Ste. This does not have an understandable difference of mally goes up the chimney at 300 to be the www. and have decided to initially pur. and abroad.usgbc. Its mission is to foster the efficient and sustainable use of resources as a path to global secu. and to assure that the intended of a given capacity. A few words on some of the tion of exhaust gases in the flues Sensible and latent cooling HVAC equipment options that (chimneys) that these systems loads—Most mechanical cooling can produce a far more sustain. comfortable. Consider the use of: achieve AFUEs of 90 percent or dress both the sensible and latent Modular equipment—For ex. the equipment room space to in. Instead. drive power.

but do keep things in perspective. gets. The dog slid spaces based on actual occupancy. quirements and the “human fac. Some pace-setting and sustainable resistance to their use by local whatever he could find around the designers now swear by them since code officials and others. the horsepower threshold down. icy surface and into the house. native approach that includes 10 Sustainable design is a topic de- coming known as displacement control features—but at three manding on-going dialog. Continued dialog and ventilation air down low is be. These sensors al. will provide 90 percent of the en- This concept of delivering cooling ergy savings achieved by an alter. improve. and Washington. in the air. remember that less may home. time-consuming. These are appropri. I hope that you time in the design process. and he and less than ideal applications. be used to modulate the amount of looked up with a forlorn expres- erage recently. Dick was at Oxford University Press early in 1999. open water for summer sailing. You may also encounter began to tie together ropes. down the icy slope about 100 ft to However. D. ries Simplified Design of HVAC Sys- ● Variable speed drives for pump shooter with one of the world’s tems in the Parker-Ambrose by John and fan motors.INTELLIGENT DESIGN topic that has received a lot of cov. Until fairly re. house to create a “lifeline. plexity. Though it is one of you decide that all of the best tem complexity is well-matched to the most important principles of whole building design solutions the skills of the operators. SWA. since these sensors will the edge of the water. you now have that many HPAC readers will be considered at the appropriate seven additional controls that re. it is impossible to address Back to those “gadgets” the additional seven control modes the wide range of issues or include Again. stupid. One day. The dog then ran up the centers and airport terminals. Now however. waterway at its base that leads to of communications. Modern technology al. I have had director of sustainable design for ● Premium efficiency motors. which This article was prepared with the some cases. are difficult. design solutions to the HPAC edi- cially those sited in areas with tors” of resource allocation. Just be sure that sys. continually transient occupancy. home the lesson of simplicity.” As this all of the outside air is delivered to Finally. Proven quire O&M and may malfunction. in Nor- Their use is often cost-effective for Richard (Dick) North at the Pratt walk. Inc. is changes are made. firms in New York. Obvi- ventilation. Respect the “KISS” principle the road. she simply walked to the most compelling applications are lows us to control just about any. Bobenhausen is author of the se- 1 hp or less. Perhaps the yield more. if you opt for the package of the “exceptions to the exceptions” kept in proper perspective and 10 control modes. Obviously. In addi. gadgets should not be are less than compelling. That is fine. regularly used motors as small as Institute in Brooklyn. Until then. ● CO2 sensors. when it comes to gad. rather. thinking about. variable speed drives backs onto a sloped incline with a assistance of Will Zachmann. where potentially drafty air flows Suppose that three control modes In short. they should be tion.. He is also James cently. HPAC initially and on a continuing basis and innovative engineers still get as system upgrades and staff caught up in unnecessary com. ously in a brief article such as the simple payback economics for this. sion but didn’t move. Conn. hoses. his wife returned the building volume in close prox. back door and held the dog’s leash large. times the initial cost. The dog 50 HPAC Heating/Piping/AirConditioning February 1999 . That Shape. Most of our readers are familiar you to think of the dog. simple solutions are will be of minor concern to what is a for a certain HVAC application often best. Like most systems. outdoor air supplied to occupants. the privilege of teaching with Steven Winter Associates. Dick is Mr. It is to be published by ments in technology keep bringing Several winters ago. N. One day. and simple commonsense considered on most projects (espe. will send your thoughts. In his Long Island home. director are even being promoted for frac. Dick knew there are both highly appropriate their long-term reliability will be that a rescue was needed. high spaces like convention thing and everything. Over the years.C. or proper training is provided both wise). most prestigious engineering Wiley & Sons. these drives were cost-effec. some of the most thoughtful cost-prohibitive. the real-world experiences and disparaged. tional horsepower motors. ate for most mid-size and large with the KISS principle: keep it and the leash—especially before buildings.Y. When she assessed the situ- imity to the occupants. also a senior PE and trouble. he opened the back door low for demand ventilation of to let his dog out. he Marston Fitch’s new co-author of the third edition of the classic American tive on large motors only (25 hp or told me a true story that brought Building: the Environmental Forces greater). AIA. ments. simple. was going on. critical. These may even form the nu- high electrical charges) are: cleus for a follow-up article down ● Computerized energy manage. tor. William Bobenhausen. ation. CSI. and good design (sustainable or other. the ice. I encourage ment systems. com- HVAC components that should be Always look at the life-cycle re.