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Students Design Innovative HVAC Systems For ASHRAE’s Design Competition

September 5, 2013 By Paul Nastu

ASHRAE student design contestCollege students from different universities designed award winning efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) for ASHRAE’s annual student design competition and its applied engineering challenge, showcasing innovative, sustainable solutions.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) challenged student teams to come up with creative solutions for a mock high-rise building (pictured) in Dallas.

University of Vancouver students won first place for their HVAC design calculations — they worked with limited mechanical space for large plant equipment and exhaust ducting,  so they selected an air-cooled heat recovery chiller for the roof and high efficiency condensing boilers for heating. They opted for heat recovery via air-to-air heat pipes, which provide minimal leakage and represent a passive technology that allows for washroom exhaust recovery. To lower the room air temperature and maintain occupant comfort, the team used hydronic radiant panels for skin heating in the first floor retail space.

Students from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas won first place for HVAC system selection. After considering several systems, the team chose a water source heat pump with sewage heat exchanger for the building. A water source heat pump allows for load sharing between spaces within the building via a common water loop; it is an extra benefit that helps to improve the efficiency of the entire building’s heating and cooling system. The system also has the potential to be self-balancing due to the fact that simultaneous heating and cooling will occur during the year.

A Chinese team from the University of Nottingham in Ningbo, China, won first place for integrated sustainable building design. The team relocated the Dallas building to China, on a greenfield close to basic services. Aside from passive  cooling and natural ventilation, the students also explained that increasing solar heat gain and use of high thermal mass material will also contribute to thermal comfort in winter time. For shading on residential areas, the students suggested photovoltaic devices and a double-skin façade.

ASHRAE will display the designs at the winter conference in New York city next January. It also gives awards for engineers who design real-life buildings.

The engineers who designed the net-zero energy NREL Research Support Facility in Golden, Colo. and a Washington fire station that uses 70 percent less energy compared to other area fire stations are among the winners of the 2013 ASHRAE Technology Awards. The six award winners’ designs incorporate ASHRAE standards for effective energy management.

Image credit: ASHRAE



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