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Innovative Hybrid HVAC System Achieves LEED Silver

Upper Iowa University Liberal Arts Building

Fayette, Iowa

Price Products

Underfloor Air Distribution & Chilled Sails

Project Highlights

Location: Fayette, Iowa
Project Type: New University Construction
Project Cost: $8.6 Million
Year Completed: January 2010
Square Footage: 34,000 ft sq

Design Team

Architect: Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle
Mechanical Engineer: Karges-Faulconbridge, Inc.
Price Representative: TMS Johnson Inc.

The Achievement

Demonstrating leadership through forward thinking and sustainable building design was a key objective for the team collaborating on a new Liberal Arts Building for Upper Iowa University (UIU). In addition to a strong academic program, administrators for the 153-year-old post-secondary institution sought to differentiate the facility by providing a superior learning environment for students.

A USGBC LEED Silver designation for the building was targeted from the outset of the design process. In order to achieve this high standard, the design team challenged the status quo with a cutting-edge hybrid HVAC system that incorporates both underfloor air distribution and chilled sails. The first of its kind in a U.S. college, this unique hybrid solution delivers significant savings in energy consumption, superior indoor air quality and a comfortable learning environment that would help students thrive. Close collaboration between the design team, contractors and Price was key to the success of the installation and helped deliver a highly energy efficient solution that is expected to achieve payback in three years.

The Challenge

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Challenging Design Convention

The core objectives for the Liberal Arts building’s HVAC system were not unlike those another institution might deem important – deliver a solution that will reduce operating costs, provide maximum comfort for students and afford future flexibility as the utilization of spaces evolve. Additionally, the mechanical system would have to accommodate a broader design objective to ensure that the new building blended seamlessly into the 153-year-old campus. A number of traditional air distribution strategies would have made a significant impact on these performance criteria.

The UIU team, however, sought to challenge conventional performance expectationsand demonstrate industry leadership by selecting a hybrid underfloor air distribution and chilled sail solution. Architectural firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle. Ltd, (MS&R) and mechanical engineering firm Karges-Faulconbridge, Inc. (KFI) had successful experiences with underfloor air distribution systems in the past, but incorporating chilled sails in a hybrid solution would be one of the first design examples of its kind. Extremely close collaboration at all stages of design and construction would be essential.

The Solution

Hybrid System Helps Deliver Energy Efficiency 67% Over Baseline

The Liberal Arts building achieved the targeted USGBC LEED Silver designation, and the high performance design achieved further recognition when Alliant Energy of Iowa offered the university a six figure rebate based on the energy efficiency of the facility. The UIU Liberal Arts building was found to be 67% more efficient than a conventionally designed “baseline” building. It is projected that the initial investment in energy saving systems will be recouped in approximately three and a half years through reduced operating expenses.

The underfloor component of the hybrid system ventilates the building with fresh air, while the chilled sail component delivers radiant cooling throughout the facility to classrooms, offices and the auditorium. This elegant solution allowed the design team to achieve the core goals of flexibility and energy efficiency, while also benefiting from the pleasing architectural appearance and improved air quality of the hybrid system. Utilizing an easily relocatable raised tile system and underfloor plenum, underfloor air distribution is renowned for the flexibility it brings to evolving spaces. The Price UFDD displacement style diffusers selected for the facility also provide superior indoor air quality – air in the space is stratified and contaminants flow up and out of the breathing zone, rather than being recirculated.

The chilled sails system uses water to more efficiently condition the space via radiation – similar to how the sun heats the earth – and relies on the UFAD system to provide ventilation air, which greatly reduces the supply air volume requirement and makes sails an extremely energy efficient technology. Due to their aesthetically pleasing appearance, chilled sails also fit extremely well into the architect’s design vision for the building, making them both an architectural element and an HVAC system component. The hybrid system also allowed for a reduced plenum height in the building, reducing the construction cost and ensuring a floor-to-floor height that was in line with other facilities on campus.

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The most challenging aspect of the installation was the close coordination required between the design team, the trades and Price to ensure successful execution. In addition to providing the design team with product selection, layout, and load calculation support, the The Challenge Challenging Design Convention The core objectives for the Liberal Arts building’s HVAC system were not unlike those another institution might deem important – deliver a solution that will reduce operating costs, provide maximum comfort for students and afford future flexibility as the utilization of spaces evolve. Additionally, the mechanical system would have to accommodate a broader design objective to ensure that the new building blended seamlessly into the 153-year-old campus.

A number of traditional air distribution strategies would have made a significant impact on these performance criteria. The UIU team, however, sought to challenge conventional performance expectations UIU was found to be 67% more energy efficient, with the initial investment being recouped in three and a half years. Linear floor heaters manage the skin loads along this corridor. Price team also travelled to Fayette to provide support to the contractors during installation. The design and construction teams had not previously worked with chilled sails, so they benefited immensely from the support provided by Price. Executive Director of Facilities, Bryan Jolley, states that the building has already played an important role in illustrating design concepts and demonstrating to prospective students the ways in which sustainable design goals on the campus are being met.

Design Team Profile

KFI Engineers

Karges-Faulconbridge, Inc. (KFI) is a sought-after provider of systems and solutions for industries ranging from medicine to education and from manufacturing to refining. Many of their relationships have started with clients presenting a problem that could not be solved by others. KFI prides itself on a structured, systematic approach to problem solving, reacting quickly and decisively behalf of their clients.

Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Ltd.

MS&R is an architectural firm with a focus on creating exceptional spaces that are inspiring, functional, and of the past while focused on the future. Their relationships with their customers are long standing ones and nearly 80% of their work comes through referrals. Identifying opportunities for sustainable design is a key factor in the way they approach new projects.

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