FloVENT CFD Software Used in Design of First Illinois University Residence to Achieve LEED Gold Status
Engineers at Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD) used Flomerics' FloVENT computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software to verify the design of the first university residence hall in Illinois to obtain a Certified Gold Level rating under the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design® (LEED) green building system. ESD used the relatively new displacement ventilation approach in their mechanical design of Saint Xavier University's new $9 million, 37,000 square foot Arthur Rubloff Hall in order to reduce energy consumption. "The simulation evaluated the comfort of the building under a wide range of conditions and demonstrated that the new design, which uses displacement ventilation would not only be energy efficient but also comfortable and healthy," said James Vallort, an ESD engineer.
"Displacement ventilation provides energy savings by concentrating cooling in the areas occupied by people and allowing the other areas of the building to be warmer," Vallort said. "The savings come from only having the ventilation system deliver air in the neighborhood of 65F and also from operating the diffuser fans at a much lower speed." The owner liked the energy savings provided by the displacement ventilation approach but wanted to be sure it could achieve a high level of comfort and indoor environmental quality. ESD addressed these concerns by simulating the operation of the displacement ventilation system.
ESD engineers used the Diffuser SmartPart (included with FloVENT) to create compact models of the diffusers that closely match the performance of the diffusers without having to model their geometry in detail. The extract units in the ceiling, consisting of rings near the outer edges of the walls, were modeled using another FloVENT SmartPart called a "Fixed Flow Device".
"The results of the simulation clearly show the displacement ventilation system working as intended," said Aliza Skolnik, another ESD engineer. "The temperature plots across a vertical plane of the building show how temperatures remain comfortable in the lower, occupied, part of the room, with significantly higher temperatures above the levels occupied by people. The airflow predictions show air coming out of the diffuser units, gaining body heat, and then rising under natural buoyancy forces through the extract units in the ceiling. The simulation results helped the building owner feel comfortable with the displacement ventilation concept, and verified the significant energy savings achieved by this method."
When the building was completed, ESD engineers performed a variety of tests as part of the commissioning process. These included personal comfort tests and temperature measurements. "The tests showed that the actual temperatures matched the simulation predictions within +/- 1F," Vallort said. "More importantly, they showed that people in the rooms were comfortable under a wide range of conditions. The result is that Arthur Rubloff Hall is the first university residence hall in Illinois to obtain a Certified Gold Level rating under the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design® (LEED) green building system and provides 30% energy savings compared to traditional designs."
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