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October 2015         

 Case Study: Bristol Community College

Aircuity's solution helps achieve zero net energy while enhancing safety in the lab
Bristol Community College
Image: Sasaki Associates
Bristol Community College (BCC) offers asso­ciates degrees and certificates in over 150 programs through its main campus in Fall River, Massachu­setts and several satellite locations. With its growing number of students, BCC commissioned architect and engineering firms Sasaki Associates, Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers (BR+A), and Haley & Aldrich to design the 50,000sf John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building based on standard high perfor­mance building design. While the project was put on hold pending funding BCC strengthened their commitment to their carbon reduction goals and the opportunity to construct a zero net energy building was born.  With the large amount of lab and other energy intensive space, the firms needed to not only reduce energy use and eliminate the reliance on fossil fuels, but in order for the design to be truly successful, the space needed to be a safe and healthy environment for students and staff as well. 

The firms collaborated to create a ZNE design. One of the larger contributors to achieving net zero energy included a hybrid ground-source and air-source heat pump to avoid fossil fuels. Equally as important to the design was airside optimization to address the HVAC energy use–which typically ac­counts for 50-70% of the total energy consumption in a lab building. Optimizing the HVAC energy use in the building included designing in filter fume hoods, fan coil units, enthalpy wheels and Aircuity. 

Aircuity was introduced to the design through chan­nel partner Flow Tech, Inc. and produced a trifold of benefits. First, Aircuity allowed for a reduction in the baseline air change rates from 6ACH to 4 ACH during occupied times and 2 ACH during times when the space is typically unoccupied. Next, optimizing the amount of fresh air ventilation in the labs along with filtered fume hoods & fan coil units meant the air handler and ductwork could be sized for minimum air change rates, resulting in first cost savings. As a third benefit, including Aircuity in the design enhanced the environment for both students and staff and added an extra sense of safety to the space. 

The design not only eliminated fossil fuel consumption, but it comparatively reduced overall energy consumption by a predicted 70%. The reconciled construction budget of the ZNE design resulted in a slight increase in cost. This increase was more than covered by the utility incentives and a Pathways to Zero Grant from the MA DOER. The net life cycle cost sav­ings of the building and power purchase agreement are estimated to be over $4 million. 

Click here for the full case study and a chart highlighting the savings and costs of the ZNE design.

Bruno Biasiotta Joins Board 
Aircuity is excited to welcome Bruno Biasiotta to the Board of Directors! Mr. Biasiotta is Managing Partner of The GNA Group and his 25 years of experience in the building efficiency and technology industries and leadership roles at Philips Lighting and Johnson Controls make him a valuable addition to Aircuity’s board. The appointment follows his contribution to the expansion capital Aircuity received this past spring.    

“Bruno’s experience supporting strategic account growth and acquisition will be invaluable to Aircuity during this expansion period.  We are developing significantly larger and more comprehensive Airside Programs for our clients, now worldwide, and Bruno brings unmatched experience and expertise to help guide us”, explained Dan Diehl, Aircuity’s CEO.
Read the full press release here.
R&D Magazine:
A Good Vent

A Brief Look at Energy Efficiency Lab Ventilation Strategy
In today’s lab world, most people are aware of the amount of air they use in their labs. Along with this well-known fact, lab owners and users both know the use of air in a lab environment is the single biggest issue with energy consumption, and that labs are energy hogs. With these realizations, lab owners and users must find one or more strategies to fix this issue, and do so fast.

One common trend observed in lab ventilation strategies for energy-efficient labs is taking advantage of the after use of energy within air—strategies like heat recovery have been prominent. However, people are now looking at reducing the amount of air before they even get started recovering energy from over-ventilated spaces.

In terms of reducing air change rates, there are a number of strategies labs can deploy. With a large focus on minimizing plug loads, implementing higher-efficiency freezers can reduce plug loads, the thermal characteristics of a building and, in some cases, the need for air to cool lab spaces based on the heat generated by the equipment. On the fume hood side, there’s talk about the ANZI 9.5 standard that can now permit the reduction of the minimum airflow through a fume hood when the sash is closed and the ability to implement higher-efficiency fume hoods, which use less air.

“In addition to lowering thermal demand and increasing the efficiency of fume hood flows, the amount of dilution air used in a lab can also be optimized to balance both safety and energy savings,” says Chuck McKinney, VP of Strategic Accounts and Marketing, Aircuity. “VAV systems are prevalent in labs, and these systems can be better utilized to deliver the right amount of air on a zone-by-zone basis by utilizing active monitoring systems that can raise or lower air change rates based on lab activity.”

The great air change debate
The obvious answer to the commonly asked question of what’s the correct air change rate is, in fact, there’s no one right answer. Even in a lab where you know exactly what’s going on at any given time, one air change rate won’t be perfect for another period of time in that exact lab setting.

“The reason is simple,” says McKinney. “When there is a lot of benchtop activity happening in a lab, higher air change rates can quickly cleanse the lab areas and remove airborne contaminants, but if there is no lab activity, lower air change rates will save a significant amount of energy. The difficulty is knowing when there is activity that might need higher air change rates.”

However, it’s difficult to understand the hours researchers work, and even if there is no one in the lab, chemical vapors and particulates can build up due to fugitive emissions or ongoing research activities. “According to ASHRAE guidelines, a lab operating on a night setback schedule should run at higher ACH rates for an hour prior to anyone returning to that lab; enforcing this safety precaution can be difficult at best,” says McKinney.

How can demand control ventilation (DCV) solve the air change debate and what does the future of lab ventilation look like? Click here to find out!

Aircuity Events

Please join us at one of these
upcoming conferences:

AALAS 66th National Meeting
November 1 - 5
Phoenix, AZ

13th Asia Pacific Conference on the Built Environment – NEXT GEN TECHNOLOGY
November 19 - 20
Hong Kong, China
(Aircuity founder, Gordon Sharp, is speaking)

Aircuity, Inc.
Contact Us
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