Advanced Building Design – Stanford University
I have been involved in a building design concept for Madison-Wisconsin University, USA. My role has been "Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing" engineer, this role is also known as "Building Service" engineer.
My team has been formed by other three professions: structural engineer, architect, and construction manager.
We were located in four different countries, so we led all our concept development using video-calls and virtual reality meetings.
Since our mentors and teachers were also world-spread, all our design proposals have been reviewed using online communication tools.
My team and I have been extensively using Revit for the building design process and clash detection.
To ensure a high-quality user experience, we checked our activity advancements, in the building, using Virtual Reality. This helped us to identify efficiently problems related to the indoor space, such as duct routes.
Our concept had to comply with different challenges proposed by the sponsors. I have been the leader for the "Green Challenge - Carbon Negative Building".
To have a whole picture of the situation, I also accounted for energy and water consumption and I wanted to obtain a LEED gold certification.
Wisconsin is a difficult site for many reasons, the first one is the extreme climate throughout the year.
On the psychometric chart on the left, there are the main strategies to ensure that comfort, as defined by ASHRAE 55.4, is reached in a building located in Madison, WI.
Comfort meets regulations for 8.7% in a year. So, design strategies are mainly formed by heating processes for 81.1% of a year.
I have discussed many strategies with my team to satisfy this challenge. Hereby, I have summarised the key steps in the chronological order:
1. Building orientation and materials
At the very beginning, it's has been crucial to orientate the building so we can maximize heat and solar gain.
Since day one, I guided my team to choose proper materials. For example, together with construction managers, we proposed to use wood instead of steel so we can have access to a local material that has a lower environmental impact.
At this point, I proposed to adopt a VAV system due to the constraint on the lightness, visual impact, and low cost.
2. Parametric façade
Once I identified the critical areas for cooling loads, me and the architect cooperated to design a façade that can both shade and embody solar panels. In this way, we achieved summer comfort and we drastically reduced energy consumption.
Since construction managers requested to lower costs, we adopted a basic geometry patter formed only by three sizes of triangular shapes.
3. Waste heating recovery
Madison-University used a district heating and cooling system. In particular, its district heating pipes had steam water. Additionally, in the campus, there were vent towers that released, during cold months, warm air at 50 °C.
Since the design strategies had to focus on heating systems, we found a way to take this warm air into the building's air handling unit.
Construction managers made sure to reach tunnel depth so that the warm air was conveyed into the MEP shaft, then it was purified into the air handling unit and it was used into the VAV system.
So, the overall impact has been summarized in the following chart.
In the end, CO2 emissions equivalent were 20% of the total budget for the Madison area. It hasn't been possible to go further down due to technological and budget constraints.
The building was satisfying the requirements for the LEED gold certification.
Outside view of the façade
Inside view of the façade