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Aquathermal Systems

©2013 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 55, no. 1, January 2013.

By Camille Sylvain Thompson and Wayne E. Kerbelis, Associate Member ASHRAE

About the Authors
Camille Sylvain Thompson is a marketing communications coordinator, and Wayne E. Kerbelis is a mechanical engineer and principal with the engineering firm of Peter Basso Associates in Troy, Mich. Kerbelis is a member of ASHRAE’s Detroit chapter.

 

Saginaw Valley State University’s (SVSU) new Health and Human Services (HHS) building uses one of the largest pond closed loop geothermal (aquathermal) systems (Figure 1) ever developed in Michigan. The system has provided SVSU with 40% annual savings in heating and cooling costs, equating to $85,000 annually, as compared to an ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004 level conventional boiler and chiller system.

The 95,975 gross ft2 (8900 m2) building houses nursing, kinesiology, occupational therapy, health sciences and social work programs. The mission of the new building is to provide new facilities for student instruction and training in Health and Human Services, along with presentation skills, and technology integration.

The new building was sited specifically to maximize daylighting by orienting the building’s long dimension east to west. Ample daylighting allows the facility’s corridor daylight harvesting system to automatically turn off lights during the day, when daylight is prevalent, to achieve additional energy savings.

The building’s envelope features exterior walls constructed of veneer face brick, an air gap, 2 in. (50 mm) of spray foam insulation and a minimum of 8 in. (200 mm) of CMU, allowing for a large mass wall, reducing heat loss by providing an overall wall construction insulating value of R-20. The roof is constructed of a white EPDM membrane with an overall insulating value of R-30. The exterior windows consist of low-e glazing with a U-value of 0.34 at the center of the glass, and an overall U-value of 0.47 when factoring in framing. Sun shade devices, large overhangs, and window shades all provide further heat gain reduction in summer months and heat loss reduction in winter.

Each of these efficient features is factored into the performance of the HHS building, and is part of a comprehensive system design that provides 19% more energy savings than the building code’s requirements for the envelope. The construction of the exterior walls and roof was a key component to the energy efficiency of the building.

Spaces within the building are designed to be flexible and versatile, to provide for the diverse and growing field of health and human services. Among the 13 labs are a research-level vivarium, which operates on a 24-hour basis on 100% outdoor air, and a learning lab, which includes five meeting areas clustered around a central observation room, providing space for individual and group instruction, as well as simulation space for patient treatment. Simulation laboratories and meeting rooms provide space for the development of health sciences and social work research. Twelve classrooms feature spaces for nursing, kinesiology, and occupational therapy. Additionally, various student meeting spaces are provided as well as faculty offices, conference rooms and computer classrooms.

The second floor features clustered office suites for faculty and the college’s dean, encouraging the use of shared conference and collaboration space, file storage, and support staff space. Pedestrian connections are located at each level between the HHS and Regional Education Center (REC) building for convenience in sharing existing food services, lab spaces, and the REC’s auditorium.

At the heart of the complex and versatile HHS building is a massive, concealed aquathermal system. The aquathermal system connects the HHS and REC buildings, providing heating and cooling from an on-site 12 acre (5 ha) manmade pond. The decision to use an unconventional heating and cooling method was critical to the new building’s high efficiency design.

Citation: ASHRAE Journal, vol. 55, no. 1, January 2013

 

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