Rice Hall Site Visit, Part. 2

Green Design Elements

There’s a fire-suppression system in the server room that’s a special agent system that’s supposed to put out a fire and not damage the sensitive computer equipment. A similar product at the ITC data center that’s “like a gas, a bunch of micro-water droplets. The alternatives are products that have CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) in them that can stay in the environment for decades, but this system apparently only stays in the system for hours and dissipates almost immediately. It’s a much greener product.”

Server Room, Lower Level

Chilled Beams
Energy perspective: chilled beams in the whole building. Instead of pushing conditioned air out like a typical building does, it’s a lot cheaper to push water or liquid through pipes than it is to move air through ducts from an energy perspective so they’re using chilled beams to “fine tune” the conditioning or the cooling. This building is anticipated to use little heat, almost all cooling. Chilled beams will be in the offices and the labs. In order for them not to condense, they are basically a big cooling coil exposed in the ceiling. Runs at a much warmer temperature than the university’s chilled water loop so that the moisture in the air doesn’t condense in the space (i.e., it doesn’t “rain”). “Complicated terminal device.”

The water temperature going back to the chillers will be much warmer than in most university buildings, which allows the chiller to run more efficiently. All the chilled water that goes up to the penthouse to make cool air get warmed up a little bit, and instead of going back to the chiller plant it goes back into the chilled beam loop and gets recirculated back through the building. “Pull as much cooling energy as we can out of the water before we send it back to the chillers.” This will contribute to the buildings LEED energy points. Right now the building is “tracking LEED Silver.”

Heat Capturing?
New unit is going to capture the heat from the air before exhausting it out of the building. In the basement there is also a channel connecting Rice to Olson, such that the two buildings’ basements will be connected. Several two-hour fire separations (code requirements).

Lower Level Connection to Olson Hall

Energy Metering
They’ve picked three labs or offices to install different terminal devices (i.e. a “fan-cooled unit,” or a “simulated geothermal heat pump,” or a “BAB unit”) so they can study these terminal devices and compare  them “apples to apples,” because they will be right next to each other. There is enhanced metering installed so they know how much water is going to each terminal device, how much power is going to each one. Their vision is to put this on a large display in the lobby so you can see the performance of the building. 

All along the brick there is going to be 2” spray foam, “really the only insulation.”

Motorized Blinds
Motorized blinds working that cooperates with the building’s control system. “At certain times of day, they’ll close on one side of the building. Users can override them so it will be interesting to see how often the users will allow them to move on their own.”

Qiufan and Aaron explore the penthouse

Building also has daylight harvesting. “On a sunny day, the interior lights will dim automatically.” All the offices have dimmable light fixtures and dimmers on the controls.

Site visits make everyone happy!

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