Heat was the focus of two ASHRAE competitions challenging students in their engineering skills.

ASHRAE’s 2015 Design Competition asked students to tackle a three-story classroom and office building in Doha, Qatar, while for the Applied Engineering Challenge students were required to design a collapsible and portable conditioned shelter for treatment of heat illness victims. Thirty-nine teams representing 10 countries entered the events.

First place recipients in the HVAC System Selection are from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Team members are Brianna Brass, Matthew Easlon, Feinschule Hagwon, Mary Kleinsasser, Ben MacKenzie, and Rachel Obenland. The faculty advisor is David P. Yuill, Ph.D., P.E., while industry advisors are Joe Hazel, P.E., HFDP, Dan Karnes, and Leo A. Daly.

After comparing HVAC system options, the team chose a water source heat pump system utilizing a closed seawater loop field. The system had the lowest life cycle cost of the three systems considered. The seawater loop field provides a sustainable energy source with a low-environment impact. Comfort and indoor environmental quality are easily maintained due to the adjustability of the system within the building.

The system showed a 44% energy improvement over the baseline. It is projected to cost $3.8 million over a 50-year period, which is $695,000 less than a variable air volume air handling system with thermal ice storage option and $220,600 less than fan coil units with a dedicated outside air system and thermal ice storage option.

First place recipients in the HVAC Design Calculations also are from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Team members are Kristin Hanna, Garrett Johnson, and Mark Wilder. The faculty advisor is David Yuill, Ph.D., P.E.

To address the peak cooling load of 157 tons, students designed a thermal ice storage system, which allows the chiller size to be reduced to 100 tons while still meeting load. Although the ice storage system adds initial cost, it is shown to reduce life cycle cost because of the reduction in initial cost for the chiller and reduction of energy used during peak demand hours throughout the cooling season.

The team also designed a creative condenser water heat rejection approach using several decorative fountains on the school grounds. The approach is unusual but has been implemented in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. Heat and mass transfer calculations show that a total of 240 sq meters of fountains will be required.  

First place in the category of Integrated Sustainable Building Design goes to a team from Portland State University. Team members are Krestina Aziz, Adam Buchholz, Nicole Dunbar, Lee H. Han, Joel Joiner, Osman Sarper Kucuk, Blake Reynolds, Natalie Sherwood, Huy Tran, and Alex Wilson. The faculty advisor is Huafen Hu, Ph.D.

The team worked to integrate site location, building orientation, envelope components, and mechanical systems to achieve a building approaching net zero energy. The building site was chosen on the basis of wind direction, public transportation, and proximity to the Persian Gulf to take advantage of any naturally cooled air. For mechanical system design, they chose a combination of radiant beams with a dedicated outdoor air system, energy recovery ventilators, and thermal storage.

Low-flow plumbing was selected to reduce the building’s reliance on the energy intensive desalinated water available in Doha. Shading and orientation also played an important role due to the high solar gain the region. Solar generation was chosen for a source of renewable energy.

For the Applied Engineering Challenge, students were required to design a collapsible and portable conditioned shelter that can be assembled in the field to assist in the treatment of a victim of heat illness, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The first place Applied Engineering Challenge recipients are from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Team members are Miren Aizpitarte, Cinthya Mendez, Julia Stone, and Willis Tang. Their faculty advisor is Jesse Maddren, Ph.D., P.E.

The team chose a pentagonal structure with an airbed and chilled pad inside. The structure was cooled by a portable air-conditioning unit with an evaporative cooling option for dry climates. The tent walls, doors, and roof are thinly insulated and also feature air gaps and layers of nylon shading material. There also is a clear plastic observation window.

The portable, conditioned structure will effectively treat victims of heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash on job sites. Design criteria were developed to ensure that construction workers, who are the target audience, would be comfortable in the structure for an extended period of time.

The projects will be shared at the 2016 ASHRAE Winter Conference, Jan. 23-27, in Orlando, FL. Also taking place at that time is the ASHRAE co-sponsored AHR Expo, Jan. 25-27, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.