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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.

Team IES

 

You may remember we blogged back in August about our participation in the ASHRAE LowDown Showdown competition. Well, we have some great news… Team IES won the Best Energy Use Results category! Liam Buckley coached the winning team, fighting off competition from seven other practitioner teams, representing software-specific tools from: Autodesk, Carrier, DesignBuilder, eQUEST, EnergyPlus, Sefaira, and Trane. We asked Liam to tell us more about the winning entry and the winning team…

Our brief was to design a three-story; 53,600-square-foot office building that included a number of specific design challenges, but also encouraged design creativity. Projects were judged on energy efficiency, design creativity, workflow innovation, teamwork and collaboration.

Obviously, the team decided to make the challenge even more challenging by locating the building in downtown Boulder, where the climate experiences vast and extreme variations including annual external conditions ranging from (-4° F to 93°F); (6% -100% Relative Humidity) and commonly occurring daytime-to-night-time temperature swings of 35°F.

The team considered 150+ Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) and eventually chose 25-30 strategically sequenced ECMs, which included daylight harvesting controls; natural ventilation with exposed thermal mass and automated night-purge control; an air-to-water heat pump; energy-star equipment; plug load schedules from metered ZNE evangelists; fixed and dynamic solar shading; airside heat-recovery wheel; IT server virtualization; radiant floors for improved thermal comfort; an optimized electric lighting design; a high-performance envelope with heat-mirror glazing and insulated panels. Finally, the integral ECM of the building showcased a passive negatively-airflow-integrated atrium, which considered all climatic eventualities.

To compliment the solar hot-water heating system, which was coupled with electricity-generating PV panels, additional explicit onsite renewable energy technologies included 5 Vertical Axis Wind Turbines. These were further optimized by the building architecture.

Our team wanted to ensure that the design would not only meet net-zero standards for next year, but that 50 years down the line, would still be operating at net-zero energy. To ensure this, we morphed the TMY15 weather data 50 years into the future (to 2064) and planned for the addition of two building-integrated evaporative down-draft cool towers that assist with cooling, which would keep the building operating at zero net energy despite higher cooling loads.

I was thrilled that our team won this award for Best Energy Use Results. The team worked really hard; although the IESVE is a powerful software suite with vast capabilities, the tools are only as good as the people using them, and we had an incredible team using them. They deserved it. It was a real pleasure working with such a talented group of people.

The team members were: Anna Osborne (Integral Group), Ben Brannon (Arup), Shona O’Dea (DLR Group), Megan Gunther (Affiliated Engineers, Inc.), Cory Duggin (TLC Engineering for Architecture),  Greg Romanczyk (exp) and Scott West (HKS Inc.).

Our team has created a video presentation of the winning design which can be viewed at https://youtu.be/7V5LktxK5ig.

lowdown-showdown
On the build up to this year’s ASHRAE Energy Modeling conference in Atlanta, ASHRAE have launched the new Lowdown Showdown modeling challenge. ASHRAE have put together a selection of teams consisting of engineers, architects, designers and energy modelers, who will be coached by software vendors including IES, as they compete to design and model a net-zero energy building.

The challenge, which started in June, will run for 3 months on the lead up to the conference that kicks off at the end of September. Each team has been given a baseline building, which they must then work on together to create a design proposal that demonstrates net zero energy performance.

The teams will present their final design on October 1st at the ASHRAE Energy Modeling conference. The “LowDown Showdown” projects will be voted on by the conference attendees and will be judged on Energy Use Results, Creativity, Innovative Workflow and Teamwork.

I’m very excited to be working with the group that ASHRAE have assigned to the IES team. ASHRAE have given us a tricky challenge but I’m confident in the talent on the team, and that they’ll overcome and surpass expectations. Our team consists of the following members:

Ben Brannon (Arup)
Anna Osborne (Integral Group)
Greg Romanczyk (exp)
Cory Duggin (TLC Engineering for Architecture)
Shona O’Dea (DLR Group)
Megan Gunther (Affiliated Engineers, Inc.)
Scott West (Jacobs)
Andrea Costa (ACE Energy Concepts)

Even though the team is spread across a massive region, I’ve been lucky enough to meet them all before. On a personal level, they are all really wonderful people and it’s a pleasure to work with them. I’m looking forward to seeing their presentation. If you are too, we’ll see you in Atlanta on October 1st!

The conference is set to be a busy week for IES. Our team will be exhibiting our latest VE solutions and we’re hosting two pre show training workshops – HVAC Loads Sizing and Energy Modeling (http://ow.ly/QNYlk) and Advanced HVAC Modeling (http://ow.ly/QNYq3).

It doesn’t stop there. My IES colleagues Nathan and Megan will also be taking part in the following presentations, so try and check them out if you’re coming to Atlanta…

  • Climate Variation Sensitivity in Building Energy Simulation
    Wednesday, September 30, 1:45 PM-3:00 PM All About the Weather
  • Intelligent Simplification: Consequences of Grouping Floors with Identical Thermal Blocks
    Wednesday, September 30, 3:30 PM-5:00 PM Thermal Comfort
  • Quantifying Passive School Design Strategies for the 21st Century in 16 Climate Zones
    Friday, October 2, 8:15 AM-10:00 AM Parametric Modeling for Design

IES are also hosting a welcome reception for our customers on the Wednesday evening, September 30th – details coming soon.

Walgreens ProjectIncreasingly, more and more companies are starting to pay attention to the fact that they need to be more sustainable and reduce their energy consumption. Not only is energy a major factor of most businesses operational costs, energy prices are continuing to rise and show no signs of stabilising anytime soon.

The cost of energy is overtaking all other variable costs in most industries. From 1993 to 2006 the cost of natural gas increased over 250 percent. And during this same period the cost of fuels and power increased over 110 percent. Managers are asking, ‘How can we better manage these costs?’ and ‘How can we better utilise our resources?’

Companies are also now recognising that their customers expect them to be part of the national and global energy sustainability solution. With stringent government energy targets on the agenda as well as the need for transparency via the likes of Corporate Social Responsibility reports, businesses must show that they are undertaking strategies to help meet our current and future energy demands in an environmentally responsible way.

It’s for these reasons that our team at IES have been busy using our technology to create a unique process called CI2©, that helps building owners to eliminate hidden waste and find resultant cost savings. In the past identifying hidden waste has typically required looking at each control or analysing utility bills and having a ‘gut-feel’ as to the source of a problem area. This has led to energy waste remaining undetected, draining resources for years. Now, break-through advances in building simulation technology and the creation of Ci2© means that you can collect and investigate your actual energy usage, as recorded by your Building Management System (BMS) or your Automatic Meter Readers (AMR), to pinpoint exactly when and where your buildings are wasting energy.

Companies such as John Lewis in the UK and Walgreens in the US are already seeing the benefits of this. By comparing how their stores are performing against enhanced virtual models of how they could be performing, they’ve been able make informed investment decisions about how best to upgrade core plant equipment, improve the fabric of their buildings or add ‘green’ technology such as voltage optimisation, LED lighting or solar VP.

Let’s look closer at the Walgreens project. Walgreens have set a target to reduce its energy use by 20 percent in every store by 2020, but that mission alone isn’t enough for Walgreens: It has decided to go steps further and build the nation’s first net-zero energy retail store, located outside of Chicago in Evanston, Ill. The project anticipates earning Net-Zero Energy Building Certification by U.S. DOE standards, and LEED Platinum, Living Building and Green Chill Platinum certifications. Walgreens estimates the store will use 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity while generating 220,000 kilowatt hours per year. As the store will serve as a living laboratory, Walgreens has made an investment in energy metering, building automation and measurement and verification. Using IES technology and its Ci2© process Walgreens are tracking and regulating the performance of the building very closely to ensure it performs as predicted and achieves their Net-Zero target. Since opening in November 2013 the store is on target to achieve its goal after the first year of opening.

Commercial buildings utilise more than 42% of all electricity produced, yet waste up to 50%. It is clear that looking at innovative ways to manage energy use across the building portfolio offers very substantial savings. There are a myriad of things companies could be doing to reduce their energy costs. The challenge is working out what actions will generate the biggest return for their organisation, small actions can immediately be put in place to generate savings, therefore, self-funding further building improvement plans. Many companies are just embarking on this journey while others are way ahead and making steady improvement.

So what is your company doing to prevent energy waste? Is it utilising technology and processes like those IES provide to continually monitor and evaluate your building to prove various options that will save you both energy and money? It should be.

For more information you can visit http://www.iesve.com/building-operation

Sustainable cities and net-zero buildings are great buzz words for the green building industry. But it seems like every major city in the world is using these words to treat sustainability like a competition. They are creating plans to be energy efficient, to implement retrofits and to have zero waste within the next 10, 20, 40 years. This is great for the green building industry, but a word of caution — let’s be smart with our spending and avoid wasting money.

Big goals require big results and create pressure to meet those set goals. It’s important that the industry doesn’t fall victim to the pressure of bigger projects and loftier goals than can realistically be accomplished. Here’s a look at some cities that are truly setting the bar high, according to C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group:

– Seoul plans to retrofit 10,000 buildings by 2030.
– Austin has a zero-waste plan for 2040.
– Tokyo is introducing higher energy efficiency standards for large urban developments.
– São Paulo plans to reduce the use of fossil fuel on public transportation by 10 percent each year, aiming for 100 percent use of renewable fuels by 2017.

When it comes to the sustainable eco cities of tomorrow, it’s easy to have good intentions but miss the mark. That’s what new technology and gadgets can do to us sometimes — we get caught up in the hype and shoot for the stars.  We expect that because a particular product is new to market or a particular sustainability strategy is innovative, it’s a no-brainer to not only implement it but to use it to exceed our wildest green expectations. When the goals are set high, the stakes are high. It’s easy to fall victim.

At Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, for example, CBT architects had some extra room in their budget when designing the school’s new science building. They looked into upgrading the windows to a new model that was designed to reduce solar heat gain and thus reduce energy consumption. However, after using energy modeling software to run a simulation, architects discovered this particular window application would have done more harm than good. In the end, they were able to avoid spending $200,000 on an upgrade that would have actually made the building more inefficient.

A lot was on the line for this particular project — CO2 emissions, energy savings and the school’s overall sustainability goals. With this in mind, architects and engineers pushed for the absolute best results, and were it not for their extensive backgrounds and training in building modeling they would have made a costly mistake. This project acts as a bit of a microcosm for the rest of the sustainable building industry. With lofty goals come lofty expectations and more room for error.

High goals mean high expectations, but never assume that the newest technology or product is going to help meet those goals. Whether it’s taking baby steps to achieve one goal at a time or setting the bar extraordinarily high, the trick is to do it intelligently.

Achieving a Zero Net Energy Footprint

Posted: November 9, 2011 by , Category:Sustainability

Zero net energy. It’s the buzzword for office buildings, residential developments, individual homes and schools. And a recent Los Angeles area design firm — The Swift Lee Office — is earning recognition for its public school building prototype.

A recent article in LiveGreen outlines some of the specifics for a school building design completed by the architecture firm, and the various elements the design incorporates in order to achieve a sustainable, zero net energy footprint. What I found most interesting from this article was the fact that Swift Lee considered the entire lifecycle of the building in their design.

A best practices approach will be applied to minimize the amount of waste during construction, the structure will achieve net zero energy while in operation and can be largely recycled once it is dismantled.

I think Swift Lee hit the nail on the head. This holistic approach is the key to sustainable design. It’s not just about designing for today. Because if we’ve learned anything from the past, it’s that things change. The way we design and create buildings today, while leaps and bounds ahead of where we were even just a few years ago, will likely change again over the next decade. We’ll discover new technologies and ways of designing, and just that like, what was “revolutionary” in 2011 will be obsolete then. But we’ve been given the opportunity to design our buildings to be the complete package, and the ability to use technology to advance the entire design process.

I’m looking forward to following this story and to seeing the completed school projects in Los Angeles. My hope is that The Swift Lee Office model catches on, and that more designers look at the whole picture when designing, not just for today — but for the future.

 

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