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The ASHRAE LowDown Showdown – We Won!

By Liam Buckley on Wednesday 14 October 2015

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.


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