This new 8,110 square meter three-story medical office building includes facilities for primary care including family medicine, health education, obstetrics, gynecology, dermatology, and podiatry, and supporting imaging, laboratory and pharmacy units. The project is Measured & Verified Zero Net Energy and Zero Net Carbon, and tracking to achieve LEED Platinum certification.
Keeping the building floorplate a simple rectangle, located on the site in the proper solar orientation on the east-west axis, was the first low-energy design decision. The window-wall-ratio on the majority of each façade was carefully designed to allow the appropriate amount of daylight for the space function behind each window, and to minimize heat loss and gain. Electrochromic glazing was also incorporated for glare control and to further reduce heat gain.
An all-electric Thermodynamically Zoned Heat Pump (TZHP) strategy saved over $1,000,000 in HVAC construction cost compared to the industry standard Variable Air Volume with Reheat (VAVRH) solution that uses gas-fired boilers for heating. The TZHP solution radically simplified the project by eliminated over 1200 meters of heating hot water piping and associated terminal units. Heat pumps were also used for domestic hot water in lieu of gas-fired heaters, thereby allowing all natural gas piping to be eliminated from the project. These simple, cost saving strategies resulted in approximately 40% reduction in annual energy use compared to a code-compliant baseline building, and completely eliminated fossil fuel burning on-site.
A 640 KW photovoltaic array was installed in shade canopies over the parking lot adjacent to the building. This PV array was acquired at no first cost to the project via a Power Purchase Agreement wherein a third party owns the array and sells the energy back to the facility. The PV installation produces enough electricity more than offset all of the energy use of the building, parking lot lighting and electric vehicle chargers, calculated on an annual basis.
A simple, pragmatic approach is often the most effective way to achieve Net Zero Energy, Net Zero Carbon and other high-performance building goals. This project is a perfect built example of that design philosophy executed. Design professionals, contractors and owners should not be unduly influenced by industry norms. The traditional, industry standard, fossil fuel based mechanical solution was initially considered to be the lowest first cost of construction solution because it had been used on 99% of similar buildings. By throwing norms aside, the simple all-electric strategy implemented for this facility saved the project over $1M in construction cost and 40% annual energy consumption to allow the project to achieve both the Zero Net Energy and Zero Net Carbon goals.
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