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University of Central Florida: Winner of the ASHRAE Integrated Sustainable Building Design Competition (2017)

By Karen Duffin on Tuesday 22 January 2019

ASHRAE’s Integrated Sustainable Building Design (ISBD) competition encourages students to extend their knowledge beyond core mechanical systems, challenging their  imaginative thinking and creative engineering approach to a building and all of its systems.

In 2017, the ISBD challenge required entrants to design a self-sustaining meteorological station located in the Diego Ramirez Islands of Chile. First place went to the team at the University of Central Florida who used IESVE as part of their strategy to optimise the building in line with ASHRAE’s sustainable design principles.

The design objectives incorporated a number of specific design goals dictated by the owner’s project requirements. These included:

  • Exceeding ASHRAE 189.1-2014 energy requirements
  • Maintaining a budget of USD $200/sqft
  • Building lifecycle of 50 years
  • Providing a return on investment of 7%
  • Achieving water use reduction of 30%

IESVE was used to perform the energy modelling, which was key to helping the team achieve the project goals. This began with the conceptualisation of the building envelope – arguably one of the most important design considerations for a NZEB – for which the team performed a series of simulations in ApacheSim to determine how different construction types may affect annual energy consumption. Results were compared against an ASHRAE 90.1 – 2016 baseline to accurately determine how much energy each construction type would save. In the end, the proposed design yielded 30% energy savings from the envelope alone, equating to savings of $726,000 over the building lifecycle.

Further simulations performed in FlucsDL enabled the team to maximise daylight levels within the model. The proposed solution involved mirroring the building so that all of the building’s large spaces face North, drastically improving the potential for natural light to penetrate into the building. The team also tested a series of design iterations in IESVE using various glazing sizes, shapes, and locations to decide on an optimized fenestration layout.

Different options for the HVAC system, namely an Under-Floor Air Distribution (UFAD) system and a hydronic Radiant Floor system, were modelled in ApacheHVAC and compared against a baseline system to determine the best solution. Based on the building’s 50-year life cycle, the radiant system was determined to be the best selection in terms of both energy and cost savings (amounting to $1,455,897 over the building lifecycle) while also delivering exceptional occupant comfort.

To make the most of the island’s natural resources, solar PV and wind turbines were also incorporated, alongside a thermal storage system, to result in a final design that would comfortably exceed ASHRAE 189.1–2014. The proposed design demonstrated the potential to achieve a LEED v4 Platinum certification in addition to lifecycle cost savings of 47% over baseline, equating to over $6 million in client savings.

Project team member, Mathew Coalson, commented: “Our team actually used multiple energy modelling software to validate the numbers we used. While each platform had its own unique advantages, it was IESVE that we determined most accurately reflected our design choices and presented the output data in the most visually appealing way.”

Fellow team member, Samad Syed, added: “I worked mostly on the energy calculations in ApacheHVAC and I really enjoyed the experience. IESVE has a great interface, it’s easy to use and I particularly liked the visualisation capabilities and reporting functions. I’d advise future students using the VE to check out the IES videos and on-demand learning, as these really helped my understanding of the tools.”

Read the full project report here.