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Comparison of Expected Versus Actual Performance of HVAC Systems in a Laboratory Building

Theodore Mowinski, II, PE, Newcomb & Boyd

One of the most difficult challenges of architects and engineers during the design phase is estimating the energy consumption of variable volume lab buildings. This is, in part, due to several factors, including highly variable equipment loads and actual fume hood usage. The presentation will review a recently completed LEED™ certified 130,000 sq ft research lab/animal holding facility. Specifically, the presentation will review the project with respect to the Labs21 Approach and the HVAC energy conservation features it employs. This includes energy recovery units using energy recovery wheels, condensate recovery, and other innovative lab specific energy conservation features to reduce total supply air. The major focus of the presentation will be a review of the anticipated energy conservation/usage expected versus the actual data that has been gathered since the building has been completed. In addition, the presentation will highlight expected versus actual lab equipment load densities, chiller performance, heating hot water performance, energy wheel performance, and condensate recovery system performance.

The goal of the presentation will be for attendees to walk away with a basis of actual building energy usage that could be applied as a guide to assist in future energy estimation for laboratory buildings.

Labs21 Connection:

The presentation will note the innovative design strategies that reflect the Labs21 Approach and track the performance of those technologies. Again, a strong focus of the actual building performance versus the design will be emphasized.

Energy and Environmental Performance goals: The project sets both energy performance and water conservation goals based on LEED™ criteria. The presentation will evaluate how well those goals have been achieved and will also evaluate the performance based on the recently published Labs21 Environmental Performance Criteria, Version 2.1 (January 3, 2005). While this document was not available during the design of this project, it will be interesting to compare and contrast the LEED™ checklist with the Labs21 checklist.

Sustainable Energy and Water Efficiency Strategies: The design incorporated chillers with variable frequency drives and variable volume primary chilled water pumping. Energy recovery wheels were provided on the air handling units serving laboratory spaces. Condensate recovery from air handling units was used for cooling tower water make-up. An innovative general exhaust strategy to reduce the cooling load for equipment space was employed. The actual performance of these systems versus the anticipated design will be highlighted in the presentation.

Measure Energy and Water Consumption: The project is part of a large university campus with a high standard for monitoring energy and water consumption. The DDC system was, therefore, designed to both monitor and track the usage of these utilities. The presentation will incorporate efforts with the DDC manufacturer to highlight the advantages and challenges faced during the design and the success the campus has had using the information generated by the DDC system.


Todd Mowinski earned his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1997. During his eight years with Newcomb & Boyd, he has developed a particular expertise in the design of mechanical systems for laboratory, research, and healthcare facilities. Mr. Mowinski's experience includes laboratory projects for numerous universities across the country, including Emory University, Tulane University, and the University of North Carolina. His work totals more than one million square feet and over $250 million in construction value. Along with design, Mr. Mowinski heads up the weekly meeting for HVAC engineers at Newcomb & Boyd, keeping them up-to-date on codes, applications, and the newest trends. In addition, he was recently published in Animal Lab News.


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