September 27th 2022

ASHRAE Building Performance Analysis Conference Competition Winners: DLR Group

ASHRAE Building Performance Analysis Conference Competition Winners: DLR Group

Congratulations to the designers from DLR Group who won the ASHRAE LowDown Showdown Design Competition at the 2022 Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild (BPACS) in Chicago. The team from DLR Group used IESVE Software as the primary energy and airflow analysis tool in the design of a 72,700 ft2 K-5 Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Net-Zero Energy:
The systems selected to minimize operational energy include a Ground-Source Heat Pump (GSHP), night flush strategy during warm months and IAQP-based ASHRAE 62.1 compliance to reduce peak Outdoor Air. Solar hot water is used to pre-heat ventilation air and hot water (DHW). The glazing percentage (WWR) and specification, and fixed exterior building shades, are all optimized to balance daylight with minimizing heating and cooling loads and energy consumption. 

Indoor Air Quality & Thermal Comfort: 
The team’s design supports educational adaptability through movable partitions and walls. The flexible classrooms not only benefit the longevity of the spaces needed over time but also increase everyday students’ engagement. Classrooms are encouraged to collaborate by opening their adjoining folding walls. In addition, the building is sited adjacent to an existing middle school which supports an adaptive campus.


A Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) with MERV 13 filtration is augmented by IAQ monitoring and sorbent air cleaning to continuously monitor CO2, formaldehyde, and other contaminants. The system removes or kills 99.99% of airborne viruses. Comfort is enhanced with ceiling fans in classrooms and common spaces.

Operational Carbon & Adaptability: 
The operational performance and systems selections were also based on an analysis of a hotter climate and the building features adaptable systems that perform well in both today’s climate and the hotter climate of the future. For example, the GSHP system design includes a solar hot water pre-heat setpoint that can be adjusted as the climate warms to keep the loop in balance.

This approach is designed to enhance the adaptability and durability to the building and building systems for future generations and the broader community. The building reduces operational carbon by 68% by using a 1 MWh battery system with PV. The battery is charged most of the year through the building PV system and charges from the grid during the day when the grid is cleaner. The battery also “peak shaves” to reduce utility demand charges, functions as a source of clean power for the onsite electric vehicle chargers and provides 4-8 hours (depending on season) of emergency power for the building.

DLR Group’s High-Performance Design team offers robust modeling and analysis – from daylighting to thermal comfort studies, to natural ventilation – optimizes building system design and quantifies performance for owners and facility teams. Team Members included: Nathan Kegel (Team Captain), Rajat Wahdwa, Anthony Montez, Andrew Eckhoff, Thu Nguyen, Shona O’Dea, Danielle Valle-Steele, Jill Mattby-Abbot, Xuyang Jin, Mahda Afkhamiaghda, Chris Arellano-Flynn and Matt Conway. 

To read more about the 2022 LowDown Showdown Winners, see: