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Automatic Daylighting Controls: Best Practices for Commissioning

©2013 This excerpt taken from the article of the same name which appeared in ASHRAE Journal, vol. 55, no. 9, September 2013.

By Jonathan Heller, P.E., Member ASHRAE; and Carmen Cejudo, Associate Member ASHRAE

About the Authors
Jonathan Heller, P.E., is a firm principal and lead mechanical engineer, and Carmen Cejudo provides engineering design and project management support to Ecotope’s engineers in residential and commercial HVAC and plumbing systems design.

Fire Station 72 (FS72) in Issaquah, Wash., is a new 11,400 ft2 (1022 m2) 24-hour facility that meets the Architecture 2030 Challenge target of 70% reduction in energy use compared to typical regional fire stations. The project met these ambitious goals using super-insulation, energy recovery ventilation, a ground source heat pump system for space conditioning and domestic water heating, solar water preheat, high-efficiency appliances, and advanced lighting design and controls.

The station, operated by Eastside Fire and Rescue, houses three rotating shifts of six fire fighters at a time. It includes offices, living quarters, three truck bays, and support spaces. It received LEED v3.0 Platinum certification.

The project includes an 8,500 gallon (32 200 L) rainwater cistern for toilet flushing, laundry, irrigation, and truck washing to reduce potable water use by 60% over a standard fire station.

Energy modeling tools were used to optimize the design and systems. Utility bills from a similar neighboring LEED Silver fire station were used to calibrate the baseline energy model to reflect actual fire station energy use patterns. The design team then evaluated every energy-using component of the building to develop an optimized energy-efficiency package. After all lower cost energy-efficiency measures were incorporated, the project had enough budget left to incorporate an electric grid-tied 30 kW solar array.

Design Collaboration

The design process was a highly collaborative effort that included close, constant input from the owner, City of Issaquah, and Eastside Fire and Rescue. The City’s goal was to have a building that could eventually produce as much energy with on-site renewables as it consumes in a year (net zero energy). Achieving this goal in the most cost effective manner, and within the limits of the building site, required an exceptionally energy-efficient building. In addition, occupants had to be willing to alter some of their standard practice for operations. This led to a give and take between designers, owner, and occupants that ultimately produced a comfortable, highly functional, and low energy fire station.

One of the early suggestions for reducing energy use was to use radiant heating and cooling rather than forced air distribution. This required the occupants to accept that they would not be able to manipulate the thermostats frequently and expect quick changes in temperature. The fire fighters were originally opposed to this. At times, after extremely stressful and physically demanding emergency response calls, the fire fighters wanted to be able to lower their core body temperature by resting in a relatively cold room. To accommodate this request the sleeping rooms are equipped with four-pipe fan coils with rapid response individual temperature controls. The rest of the facility is held at constant temperature with radiant heating and cooling.

Another example of early collaboration is the design of the automatic controls. Since fire fighters often have to leave the building quickly, they do not have time to turn off equipment and lights. Therefore, every room has vacancy sensors for shutting off lights and unnecessary equipment. The plug receptacles that are switched from the vacancy sensors are color coded so that all non-critical equipment can be turned off with vacancy.


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