Catalyst Building - Net-Zero Energy Building Design

Spokane, Washington State

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Using IESVE, McKinstry is on track to meet zero-energy certification goals for the Catalyst Building in Washington State

Key Facts

  • 150,000 sqft mixed-use higher education and commercial office building
  • zero-energy, zero-carbon building
  • largest to receive the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Zero Energy Certification
  • one of the first buildings to be certified zero carbon by ILFI

The Catalyst Building is a mixed-use higher education and commercial office building in Spokane, Washington. Covering around 150,000 sqft, the zero-energy, zero-carbon building will be the largest to receive the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Zero Energy Certification. It will also be one of the first buildings to be certified zero carbon by ILFI. 

McKinstry used the IESVE to carry out most of the energy analysis for the project. This included using it to inform the hot water and chilled water load profiles for the building. The McKinstry team used APacheHVAC to model a Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) with active chilled beams. They then pulled data from VistaPro for hot water and chilled water loads for the building, and extrapolated that data into a plant energy model simulator, developed by the McKinstry team, to model a machine learning plant that uses forecasted weather data and load trends to charge thermal storage tanks and to optimize heating, cooling, and thermal sharing technologies. 

With the project’s ambitious sustainability goals, McKinstry needed to take into account all the building’s energy use including energy that’s typically unregulated, for example plug load energy and data center energy.  The team assessed the equipment tenants were using, looking at both the operating profiles that are standard to ASHRAE 90.1 and custom profiles for plug load equipment developed through benchmarking of existing spaces. They then looked at how overall building energy use would change with default versus custom profiles. 

Due to the near passive house building envelope and high-efficiency all electric central plant,  the HVAC equipment energy was such a low percentage of the total energy end-use that plug loads and lighting are estimated to use about 60-70% of the total building energy use. Therefore, finding ways to engage occupants and reduce plug load energy as well as optimize daylighting simulations to lower lighting energy were things that McKinstry targeted in the project design phase.

In carrying out this detailed energy analysis, McKinstry can be confident that the project’s design is on track to meet its zero energy certification goals. This means that the site energy produced by the project needs to be offset by renewable energy on an annual basis. The project is due to be completed early 2020 and, all going as planned, will be awarded the ILFI’s Zero Energy Certification in 2021. 

“For this project the systems are pretty complex, particularly the airside system. We were able to use the IESVE to inform whether or not our space loads could be handled through sensible only systems and how we stage that with our DOAS, ie. looking at what kind of temperatures we should be leading off of our DOAS to provide some of the latent cooling that we need because of the high density occupant spaces like the classrooms. So, the IESVE was really useful to see where we could use sensible only cooling systems or where we would need to have a lower temperature chilled water system to provide latent cooling to a space. Using IESVE to get into the details of the space loads and understanding that was really beneficial to the project.”
Ivan Jose, Building Performance Analyst, McKinstry

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