6 Building Technology Projects Honored


A large net zero energy commercial building in California, a railroad car facility turned office building in Washington, and a ranch home in Nebraska are among the projects recognized as outstanding examples of innovative building design in ASHRAE’s 2014 Technology Awards.

The member designs incorporate ASHRAE standards for effective energy management and indoor air quality, according to an announcement by the organization.

The first place awards will be presented at the organization’s 2014 Winter Conference, scheduled for Jan. 18-22, in New York, NY.

The winning projects are listed below along with a summary provided by ASHRAE and select project photos.

First Place Commercial Buildings Category and Award of Engineering Excellence: Packard Foundation Net Zero Energy Headquarters (Los Altos, CA)

Peter Rumsey, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, chief technology officer, Integral Group, of Oakland, CA, received the first place in the new commercial buildings category for the Packard Foundation Net Zero Energy Headquarters in Los Altos, CA.

Rumsey also received the Award of Engineering Excellence, which is given to the most outstanding project receiving a first-place Technology Award. The honor has only been awarded three other times, in 2000, 2005 and 2012.

The 49,000-square-foot Packard Foundation Headquarters is described as an ultra-high performance office building that is both leading by example and transforming the marketplace. In its first year of occupancy it has already served over a thousand visitors in sustainable building education.

Highly efficient systems and an outstanding building envelope provides a reduction in energy demand by 46 percent compared with California Title 24 standards, while the remaining required power is offset with onsite power generation. The project water use goals are to achieve 40 percent water use reduction and implement the capture or infiltration of all rainwater.

The project is the largest certified net zero energy building in the world to date, according to ASHRAE. Success was found through a combination of innovative energy saving strategies, including a nighttime cooling tower with storage tank; a high efficiency air source heat pump boiler with storage; induction diffusers with chilled beams; and a low pressure drop design.

First Place in Existing Commercial Building Category: SIERR Building at McKinstry Station (Spokane, WA)

David Budd, P.E., McKinstry, Seattle, WA, received the first place in the existing commercial building category for the SIERR Building at McKinstry Station in Spokane, WA.

SIERR building
© Dean Davis Photography / Courtesy of ASHRAE

Spokane's Inland Empire Railroad (SIERR) building was constructed in 1907.

Spokane’s Inland Empire Railroad (SIERR) building was built in 1907 as an electric railroad car facility.  In the 1950s, its usage shifted to trucking. In October 2010, the facility, which consists of a series of long train car barns with high sloped roofs, was designated a national historical landmark.

Today, the 68,000-square-foot building serves as a commercial office building. The newly refurbished facility is one of a handful of high-performing historical buildings in the U.S.

The building is also a model project for many of the newly recommended practices described in the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.”

Traditional systems were unable to meet historical preservation requirements and still achieve significant energy savings while creating an office space that was comfortable and unique.

Thus, the team used the following innovative building systems: Hydronic ground source loop; office space/radiant floor system; server room heat recovery; dedicated outside air system; and common areas/constant volume heat pump systems.

First Place in Existing Industrial Facilities Category: Fromagerie des Basques (Trois-Pistoles, Quebec)

Gheorghe Mihalache, Ph.D., P.Eng., engineering director, Atis Technologies, Montreal, Quebec, received first place in the existing industrial facilities or processes category for Fromagerie des Basques in Trois-Pistoles, Quebec. The owner is Yves Pettigrew, general director, Fromagerie des Basques.

Fromagerie des Basques
Courtesy of ASHRAE

The mechanical design project for the Fromagerie des Basques cheese factory in Trois-Pistoles, Quebec, earned a 2014 Technology Award from ASHRAE.

The Fromagerie des Basques site is a family cheese factory founded in 1994. The annual milk transformation is around 3 million liters and the energy sources are oil #2 and electricity.

In 2010, a mechanical project was developed to change the heating and refrigeration of the site, construct a digester to produce biogas from plant rejections (whey and white waters) and use the biogas in production and to heat the building, as well as other innovations.

The digester concept was the first in the world using a simple head three-phase separator, ensuring a uniform velocity which is an essential condition for digester efficiency and non-contamination with bacteria, ASHRAE said.

First Place in Residential Category: Dageforde Residence (Blair, NE)

Darren Dageforde, P.E., director of utilities at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, received first place in the new residential category for the home he and his wife Karen designed and built.

The Dagefordes sought to create an energy efficient home with minimal maintenance, low utility costs and at a reasonable budget. The resulting design was an air conditioner-less (no traditional air conditioner/furnace), walkout raised ranch home operating at an energy use density of 5.24 kBTU/ft2-yr.

Dageforde residence
Courtesy of ASHRAE

The Dagefordes sought to create an energy efficient home with minimal maintenance, low utility costs and at a reasonable budget. During the summer of 2012, the hottest summer on record in Nebraska, a total of 93 kWhrs was measured at an actual direct energy cost of $3.70 to cool and air condition the house for the entire summer, a reduction of over 95 percent from an average regional house.

The house design is an adaptation of traditional high performance commercial and residential systems incorporating some advanced technologies and original design concepts. 

The skeleton of the structure consists of insulated concrete form walls and concrete floors with a standard truss rafter system. A small solar array of 4.1KW of photovoltaic panels is installed on the roof.

Environmental conditioning is provided by hydronic radiant heated and cooled floor slabs. The radiant system utilizes a large mass of the insulated concrete flooring deck system as a thermal storage mass to evenly and continuously distribute thermal energy to the occupied environment. The radiant heating system is driven from water-to-water heat pump connected to five closed loop geothermal wells as the heat source.

Domestic hot water is generated by a water-to-water heat pump also served from the geothermal well system.  Through system integration “reject cooling” is recaptured from the domestic hot water heat pump for partially cooling the home in the summer time.  Any required additional cooling is derived directly from the geothermal well system.

During the summer of 2012, the hottest summer on record in Nebraska, a total of 93 kWhrs was measured at an actual direct energy cost of $3.70 to cool and air condition the house for the entire summer, a reduction of over 95 percent from an average regional house, not including the energy benefit of site generated energy. 

The slightly milder summer of 2013 required a mere 90 kWhrs for home cooling.

Though greatly more efficient than a typical house, the home was constructed at a cost significantly less than market price for a comparable custom home.

First Place in Educational Facilities Category: 300 Davis Street Building (Findlay, OH)

Stephen Hamstra, P.E., ASHRAE-Certified High-Performance Building Design Professional, chief technology officer, Greensleeves, Findlay, OH, received first place in the new educational facilities category for the 300 Davis Street Building. The owner is The University of Findlay.

300 Davis
Courtesy of ASHRAE

The Davis Building at the University of Findlay (OH) was completed in 2012 and provides an 42,000-square-feet addition of science classrooms and related spaces.

The university is the largest private college in Northwest Ohio and has a student population of approximately 3,600. The Davis Building was completed in 2012 and provides about 42,000 square feet of additional space for science classrooms and related spaces. The building includes 26 lab/classroom spaces plus additional offices, conference rooms and support spaces.

The innovations incorporated in the building included a geothermal heat pump energy plant; a control system using anticipatory predictive algorithms for the geothermal heat exchanger (GHX) seasonal and daily pre-conditioning to minimize energy use; and the use of radiant cooling and active chilled beam sensible cooling via ground temperature water in lieu of chiller operation for much of the year.

Davis building
Courtesy of ASHRAE

A control system using anticipatory predictive algorithms for the geothermal heat exchanger (GHX) to minimize energy use was incorporated into the University of Findlay's Davis Building.

The reduced energy usage of the building provides estimated emission reductions as follows: carbon dioxide reduction of 800+ tons per year; sulfur dioxide reduction of 12,000+ grams per year; and mono-nitrogen oxide reduction of 3,000+ grams per year.

In addition, the project saw a reduction in water use for heat rejection and reduced cooling tower water chemical treatment by automatic wet or dry operation of the closed circuit cooling tower.

First Place in New Educational Facilities Category: Locust Trace AgriScience Farm (Lexington, KY)

Stephanie Febles, mechanical engineer, CMTA Consulting Engineers, Lexington, KY, received first place in the new educational facilities category for Locust Trace AgriScience Farm. The owner is Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington.

Locust Trace AgriScience Farm is an 82 acre, new vocational high school campus, consisting of a 43,000 square foot academic building, a 3,500 square foot greenhouse and a 21,500 square foot arena building. The school system wanted a project design that would produce as much energy as it consumes at the building site.

The building boasts a 168 panel evacuated tube solar thermal array that is utilized to offset the entire building heating load, that when designed, was the third largest system in North America.

The solar thermal array is capable of one million BTUs of peak generation and generates hot water for duct-mounted hot water coils, fin tube radiant heaters, and the energy recovery wheel hot water coil. On a cool cloudy day, geothermal water to water heat pumps back up the solar thermal system.

Another innovation was the inclusion of a web-based system with a touch screen system located in the front lobby. The occupants of Locust Trace believe that the best way to change the behavior of building occupants is to let them take ownership of how the building is being utilized.

The energy usage and several other building vitals are displayed for the students, faculty and the district. Part of every elementary, middle and high school curriculum is an energy module.

The energy saved comparing the ASHRAE/IES energy standard 90.1 model to the actual energy usage saved 163 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent energy required to power 24.4 homes for one year, carbon sequestered by 134 acres of U.S. forests and greenhouse gas emissions from 34 passenger vehicles for one full year, ASHRAE said.


ASHRAE, formerly the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, founded in 1894, is a building technology society with more than 50,000 members worldwide.

The Society and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability.


Tagged categories: ASHRAE; Awards and honors; Building design; Building Envelope; Building envelope; Certifications and standards; Sustainability

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