Mazzetti Designer Nicole Dunbar Wins First Place in ASHRAE Competition


Mazzetti Mechanical Designer Nicole (a.k.a. Nicky) Dunbar was a member of the first place team, from Portland State University (PSU), in ASHRAE’s Student Design Competitions for Integrated Sustainable Building Design. (Nicky graduated from PSU with a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in May of 2015.) Nicky was one of an elite group of fifty-four individuals recognized for achievements and contributions to ASHRAE and the engineering industry at the Society’s 2016 Winter Conference, Jan. 23 in Orlando, Fla. (Read more about the award ceremony in ASHRAE’s press release.)

ASHRAE sponsors student design competitions to encourage students to join a profession that is crucial to ensuring a sustainable future for our Earth – the design of energy-efficient HVAC systems. Ultimately students should start to understand why architects and engineers must collaborate early to determine building orientation, layout, materials, mechanical systems, and electrical systems that meet the client’s needs and work with the surrounding environment to minimize energy consumption.

Student Design Competition Categories:

  • HVAC Design Calculations
  • HVAC System Selection
  • Integrated Sustainable Building Design (ISBD)
  • The Applied Engineering Challenge

Nicky’s team participated in Integrated Sustainable Building Design (ISBD). This competition category required multidisciplinary teams to design an energy efficient, sustainable building, approaching “Zero Energy”, minimizing energy demands for HVAC and all other technical systems that could be satisfied with locally available or building-installed renewable energy sources (RES). Students were asked to satisfy a national or local sustainability standard (LEED or the equivalent in their country) and implement RES to approach the “Zero Energy” limit. A preliminary stage was permissible for the final design, as the competition’s basic intention is to challenge students’ imaginative thinking and creative engineering approach to the building and its systems.

The teams were presented an educational building in Doha, Qatar. Participants were asked to create a building that would meet energy efficiency goals set by ASHRAE for the competition. Nicky’s winning team, rotated the building 205° CCW to maximize self-shading and utilize the prevailing wind direction to complement thermal mass cooling strategies. Shaded low SHGC windows were selected for the east and west walls to reduce solar gain while still providing adequate daylighting to the space. Autoclaved Aerated Concrete walls were selected for their high thermal mass, low cost, and recyclable material composition. The mechanical system was comprised of radiant beams with a dedicated outdoor air system, energy recovery ventilator, and thermal storage. This system was systematically compared against the baseline model as well as high-performance options and chosen for its low energy demand, appropriate initial cost, and life-cycle reliability. The final building design was estimated to have an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 24 Btu/sf/year.


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