ASHRAE Lowdown Showdown

Boulder, United States

The ASHRAE Lowdown Showdown

Key Facts

Office Building

  • Three-story; 53,600ft2

Annual external conditions

  • Ranging from (-4° F to 93°F); (6% -100% Relative Humidity)

TMY15 weather data

  • Morphed 50 years into the future (to 2064)

Team IES wins the Best Energy Use Results category at the ASHRAE LowDown Showdown competition

The ASHRAE LowDown Showdown is a new competition which was launched at the ASHRAE Energy Modeling Conference to showcase the work of several teams competing to model a new net-zero building. Each team was coached by a participating software vendor and comprised of different professionals from across the industry.

The brief was to design a three-story; 53,600ft2 office building that included a number of specific design challenges, but also encouraged design creativity. Projects were judged on energy efficiency, design creativity, workflow innovation, teamwork and collaboration.

The team decided to make the challenge even more challenging by locating the building in downtown Boulder, where the climate experiences vast and extreme variations including annual external conditions ranging from (-4° F to 93°F); (6% -100% Relative Humidity) and commonly occurring daytime-to-night-time temperature swings of 35°F.

The team considered 150+ Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) and eventually chose 25-30 strategically sequenced ECMs, which included daylight harvesting controls; natural ventilation with exposed thermal mass and automated night-purge control; an air-to-water heat pump; energy-star equipment; plug load schedules from metered ZNE evangelists; fixed and dynamic solar shading; airside heat-recovery wheel; IT server virtualization; radiant floors for improved thermal comfort; an optimized electric lighting design; a high-performance envelope with heat-mirror glazing and insulated panels. Finally, the integral ECM of the building showcased a passive negatively-airflow-integrated atrium, which considered all climatic eventualities.

To compliment the solar hot-water heating system, which was coupled with electricity-generating PV panels, additional explicit onsite renewable energy technologies included 5 Vertical Axis Wind Turbines. These were further optimized by the building architecture.

The team wanted to ensure that the design would not only meet net-zero standards for next year, but that 50 years down the line, would still be operating at net-zero energy. To ensure this, they morphed the TMY15 weather data 50 years into the future (to 2064) and planned for the addition of two building-integrated evaporative down-draft cool towers that assist with cooling, which would keep the building operating at zero net energy despite higher cooling loads.

The IES Team members were: Liam Buckley (IES), Ben Brannon (Arup), Anna Osborne (Integral Group), Shona O’Dea (DLR Group), Megan Gunther (Affiliated Engineers Inc.), Greg Romanczyk (exp.), Cory Duggin (TLC Engineers for Architecture) and Scott West (HKS).

“I was thrilled that our team won this award for Best Energy Use Results. The team worked really hard; although the IESVE is a powerful software suite with vast capabilities, the tools are only as good as the people using them, and we had an incredible team using them. They deserved it. It was a real pleasure working with such a talented group of people.”

Liam Buckley, Business Development Manager, IES