Healthy bodies and a healthy building go hand-in-hand in the winning entries for ASHRAE's 2008 Student Design Competition.

This year's competition featured architectural design as well as selection and design of HVAC&R systems for a 60,000-square-foot community recreation center. The center features a gym with two full-size basketball courts and a running track, a wellness center with fitness equipment room and aerobics room, a natatorium with a six-lane swimming pool and indoor racquetball courts.

First place in the HVAC system selection category is awarded to Alyssa Adams, James Gawthrop Jr., Amy Leventry, Gregory Smithmyer, Calvin Douglass, Justin Herzing and Michael Smith of The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. Their advisor is William Bahnfleth, Ph.D., P.E.

The students chose a ground-source heat pump with active chilled beams or fan coils in a four-pipe system configuration for both heating and cooling and a dedicated outdoor air system for all spaces with an enthalpy wheel for energy recovery and a solar assisted LiCl dehumidification unit in the natatorium space.

"This solution was found to be the most sustainable of all the systems considered," the students wrote. "It uses heat transfer from the earth as opposed to burning fossil fuels and utilizes solar energy from the solar thermal collection panels, reducing the amount of energy supplied to the building and the energy footprint of the facility. Electricity used by the facility is directly translated into emissions at the power plant. Therefore, minimizing the onsite energy consumption not only saves energy but also reduces carbon emissions."

First place in the HVAC system design category goes to Chaowanaphan Lekkham, Patarapol Puangkum, Pakorn Nontiwatwanich, Wiroj Ekwongmunkong and Supayos Suveepattananont of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. Their faculty advisor is Chirdpun Vitooraporn, Ph.D.

The students chose an electric air-cooled chiller system with 134a as a primary refrigerant and water as a secondary refrigerant. Elements of the system include variable-speed drives, outside air units, CO2 sensors, and heat pipe and heat recovery wheel units.

"The relative energy consumption as well as relative operating and maintenance costs determined that the system is not only beneficial for the building owner and users but for the environment as well," the students wrote. "We believe our design provides a functional, economical, environmentally friendly and sustainable HVAC system for serving the center."

First place in the architectural design category is awarded to Alexandra Gibson, Justina Jones, Bryan Quarles and Bazigha Tufail of The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan. Their advisor is Brian A. Rock, Ph.D., P.E.

Their design was based on their goal of using sustainable technologies for HVAC&R, lighting, energy supply and water use. Key features include a green roof to combat the urban heat effect and to provide extra roof insulation as well as contributing to CO2 absorption/oxygen output; rainwater harvesting; development of proper lighting controls detecting the amount of daylight penetration, efficient illumination fixtures and the use of light shelves for indirect lighting; and photovoltaic panels to minimize electricity use.

"To produce a building that includes all of these ideas while remaining beautiful and also acting as an educational tool, integration of these systems from the beginning from the design was a key element," the students wrote.

Awards will be presented at ASHRAE's 2009 Winter Meeting Jan. 24-28 in Chicago. Winning student groups will each have a poster presentation to display their projects at the meeting.The competition recognizes outstanding student design projects, encourages undergraduate students to become involved in the profession, promotes teamwork and allows students to apply their knowledge of practical design.