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ASHRAE HQ’s Living Lab Provides IEQ, Energy Consumption Data

ASHRAE dedicated their newly renovated LEED Platinum corporate headquarters in Atlanta, GA, in October 2008. The two-story building, originally constructed in 1965, was redesigned to serve as a living lab and learning center and to showcase sustainable technologies.

The many resource-conserving features of the facility have resulted in impressive savings, including a 31% energy consumption savings and a 46% reduction in water consumption. Today, we are fortunate to have the ability to use data collected in the living lab to measure the impact of high-efficiency MERV13–15+ filtration systems on indoor environmental quality, energy consumption, operational costs, and environmental footprints.

For the renovation, ASHRAE partnered with several companies to provide technical expertise and equipment. Dynamic Air Quality Solutions was selected for its ability to meet several of the key project requirements related to IEQ, including:
• An easily maintainable and secure facility with low utility and maintenance costs;
• Excellent IEQ to facilitate occupant productivity by providing a comfortable environment;
• Minimize environmental impact; and
• Achieve LEED Certification.

Dynamic V8 Air Cleaning Systems, relatively new at the time, were installed throughout the building. Twelve Dynamic V8 systems were installed in accessible filter boxes used with ClimateMaster ground-source heat pumps on the second level, and 22 were installed in filter boxes used with Daikin variable-refrigerant fan coils serving the first floor. An additional Dynamic V8 system was installed in a Trane dedicated outside air system to clean incoming ventilation air and protect heat recovery wheels.

Each system met the LEED IEQ credit 3.0 requirement of minimum MERV13 and is electronically monitored for operating static pressure using an Automated Logic browser-based building automation system that allows real time monitoring 24/7.

Indoor environmental quality
Interior building materials and furniture used throughout the building are low-emitting. Smoking is prohibited. This means, like most new or updated buildings in urban environments today, that outdoor air is more likely to be more polluted than indoor air. Tests using Aircuity OptiNet air-quality monitors have shown that the indoor air has been consistently more than 50% cleaner than ambient outdoor air in terms of both small particles (PM 2.5 and PM 10) and gas-phase contaminants (TVOCs).

Energy savings
Historically, filter efficiency has been at odds with energy efficiency. This is not the case today. The Dynamic V8 Air Cleaning Systems used in the building have the ability to improve IAQ and reduce electricity costs simultaneously by reducing fan energy through a lower system static pressure drop (resistance to airflow). The higher the pressure drop, the harder the HVAC system motor(s) work to deliver the required air flow. A reduction in static pressure drop has a tremendous impact on energy costs. Filter media like those used in the Dynamic V8 Air Cleaning System produce pressure drops that are lower than high-efficiency passive filters, while still maintaining high dust loading capacities.

Operational cost savings
The best measurement of how long a filter will last (and its subsequent impact on static pressure) is dust holding capacity, and one of the best examples is found at the ASHRAE headquarters. After three years of operation, the average static pressure in the air handlers climbed a mere 0.1 in., producing approximately 0.4 in. of static at design cfm.

The lightweight Dynamic V8 filter media at the ASHRAE headquarters has not been replaced in four years.
Compared to a traditional filter application of 30% pre-filters and 85% (MERV13) post-filters, that represents a savings of about 0.75 in. in mid-life static. As a result, aside from energy savings, the Dynamic V8s have saved three to four filter changes per year on the pre-filters and one change per year on the posts. That means that the ASHRAE building has eliminated nine to 12 filter changes in three years. In addition to the filter replacement costs, other operational cost savings include the costs associated with ordering, shipping, handling, storing, labor used to change out the filters, and disposal costs. These costs could have exceeded tens of thousands of dollars.

In total, when considering energy, materials and all the associated hidden costs, filters represent a big chunk of a building’s total operating costs. When compared to 80%–90% efficient bag or cartridge filter systems, energy-saving polarized-media alternatives can yield savings of as much as two-thirds of the cost of filtration, which can equate to roughly 15% of a building’s total operating costs.

Environmental footprint
At the ASHRAE headquarters, loading characteristics of Dynamic V8 Air Cleaning Systems have resulted in maintenance cycles of more than three years, which means fewer trips to the landfill. In addition, the Dynamic V8 replacement media pads weigh less and are smaller than conventional filters, meaning they take up less storage space, are much easier to handle in tight spaces, and easier to discard or recycle.

Energy savings, however, is still the biggest impact. In terms of CO2, on one 20,000-cfm air handler, the Dynamic V8 can save up to 30,000 kWh and 40,000 lb of CO2 per year vs. 80%–90% efficient passive alternatives.

Sustainability and facility managers interested in conserving energy and operating costs have probably already replaced old incandescent light bulbs with new energy-saving bulbs. So what’s next? Perhaps it is HVAC-system filtration, which may be just as lucrative. The right filtration system can help reduce carbon footprints, lower CO2 emissions by reducing fan horsepower, and possibly reduce outdoor ventilation air requirements. Designing energy-efficient buildings with sustainable products and materials such as these will reap benefits for many years to come.

Project information

Key parameters:
• Type of Facility—Existing;
• Function—Office building;
• Area—33,570 sq ft, two-story offices;
• Project Completed—2008; and
• LEED Platinum.

• Owner—ASHRAE;
• Architect—Richard Wittschiebe Hand;
• Engineer—Johnson, Spellman & Associates Inc.;
• Mechanical Contractor—Batchelor & Kimball;
• General Contractor—Gay Construction;
• Project Manager—Bill Harrison;
• Commissioning—CxGBS; and
• LEED Consultant—Mike Snyder.

Mechanical systems:
• HVAC—ClimateMaster, Daikin, Trane;
• Ventilation—Trane;
• Building Controls—Automated Logic;
• Energy Monitoring—Daikin, Automated Logic; and
• IEQ Monitoring—Aircuity.

For more information about the project, click here. For more information about Dynamic, click here.
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