ASHRAE Announces Student Design Competition Award Winners

October 17, 2014 By Karen Henry

ASHRAE Energy ManageASHRAE announced the winners of its 2014 Student Design Competition. This year’s competition focused on designing an energy efficient HVAC system for a two-story office building in New York City with a research and development facility.

The University of Central Florida in Orlando took first place in the HVAC Design Calculations category. The team designed a high-efficiency HVAC system with variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems with simultaneous heating and cooling and dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS) with energy recovery. Other equipment included air valves for lab areas and high-efficiency particulate absorption filters and exhaust fans.

The total cost associated with the selected systems was $570,203. The design encompasses efficiency, health and safety, comfort, functionality, longevity, flexibility and maintainability with a low life cycle cost.

Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, took the top prize in the HVAC System Selection category. The students selected a ground source heat pump (GSHP) system in which water is pumped through vertical piping in the ground, providing a heat source and heat sink for the heat pumps. The main water loop serves the heat pumps and DOAS, allowing heat transfer between spaces to maximize energy efficiency. The system is low-cost, reliable, flexible, maintainable and sustainable, and the energy savings are immense.

First place in Integrated Sustainable Building Design category went to Montana State University in Bozeman. The students implemented multiple HVAC systems with high efficiencies, using the nearby river as a heat exchanger. The main VRF system is more expensive upfront, but more cost-effective and energy saving throughout the life of the building.

The systems resulted in a 70 percent reduction in energy consumption and would pay for itself in 12 years. At the end of 40 years, the building owner would realize almost $1 million in savings. The design did not reach net-zero; however, with a larger budget or new construction, the net zero goal could be realized.

California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo scored first place in the Applied Engineering Challenge in which students were required to design and specify a small, portable air conditioner that must be affordable, maintainable and effective in the local cultural environment. The system involves a series of measures that a family living in Mexico City can take to improve the indoor air quality in their house.

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