Lowdown Showdown 2016 Model

What do you get when you challenge nine interdisciplinary teams to design a net zero (or below) 50,000 ft2, 3-story Outpatient Health Care facility in Omaha, Nebraska? You get ASHRAE’s Lowdown Showdown, an energy modeling competition that showcases the talent and innovation of those in our industry using building performance analysis software.

Last year, Team IES won Best Energy Use Results and we were delighted that the winning streak continued after the team were awarded Best Workflow at SimBuild 2016 in Salt Lake City on August 11th.

This year’s IES team – going under the name Insane Energy Savers – consisted of the following members: Kent Beason, Joanne Choi, Cory Duggin, Alexandra Gramling, Ken Griffin, Amy Jarvis, Shona O’Dea, Igor Seryapin, Irina Susorova, Tristan Truyens, Brian Tysoe, Scott West and Xiangjin Yang.

A remote team meeting for the Insane Energy Savers

A remote team meeting for the Insane Energy Savers

Our Project
Our design started by modifying the massing and program to be as climate responsive as possible, while still maintaining the core mission of an outpatient surgery center.  Any non-critical spaces were migrated to the second and third floors where a common atrium was added in lieu of the circulation program areas.  Exam rooms and office spaces were placed along the perimeter to allow cross ventilation from them through the atrium.  Based on wind roses for the shoulder seasons, when natural ventilation is most viable, the building was rotated for the south façade to be in line with the predominant south eastern wind.

Stair stepping the south façade allows the building to self-shade for the entire cooling season and allows for passive heating in the winter as well as passive reheating of air-change dominated spaces on the first floor.  Since Omaha has a significant heating season, the R-value of the walls, roof and glazing were optimized to reduce heat loss.

The air change constraints in the first floor program caused us to consider it separately.  A separate dedicated outside air system (DOAS) is used for the critical spaces coupled with earth tubes to precool and preheat the required ventilation air.  The non-critical areas use another DOAS with a south facing vertically mounted transpired solar collector for preheating since the windows will be open for cross ventilation during much of the cooling season.  All spaces and both DOAS use a geothermal, water-cooled VRV system for their cooling and heating.

The tilted roof of the atrium was designed to hold photovoltaic panels with a 19.6% efficiency.  Wind turbines were also used to produce the remainder of the energy required to get net zero.

Take a look at the poster below for more info on the project’s energy saving strategies.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

An ‘Insane’ Effort
In my role as team mentor, it was awesome to see first-hand how our talented team used the Virtual Environment to complete this challenge. A lot of work was put in and it paid off when they picked up their award for Best Workflow.

It was a great effort by all involved – not just the insane ones – and it’s fantastic how each team came together to demonstrate how energy modeling tools can be used to make such a positive impact on our built environment. Bring on next year’s challenge!

Click here to see view the Insane Energy Savers’ Lowdown Showdown presentation slides.

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