Located close to various waterways, the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) takes marine science seriously. Its new MARBIONC Building — a 69,000-square-foot interdisciplinary research facility for marine biotechnology — provides labs for lease to commercial enterprises that require reliable, energy-efficient 24/7/365 cooling. Faced with high humidity and mid-Atlantic climate variations, the building required a chiller plant that could take advantage of a wide range of operating conditions and still run reliably.
“Our climate extremes are 97.5°F dry bulb and 88.3° wet bulb temperatures,” said Steve Sharpe, energy manager, UNCW. “These conditions are taxing HVAC systems. The MARBIONC Building uses nearly 100 percent outside air. So, when you have high wet bulb temperatures, you must ring the moisture out of the outside air being supplied inside. Outdoors, the high humidity hampers evaporation, making it tough for cooling towers to reject heat.”