This LEED Platinum office building optimizes its HVAC efficiency with SEMCO’s chilled beam system.
“Today most people spend over 90% of their time indoors. That means indoor air quality is of ever growing importance,” says James Martin, regional sales manager at FläktGroup SEMCO.
It’s a statistic building owners shouldn’t take lightly. The team behind 2.0 University Place proved its commitment to enhanced indoor air quality and comfort with its cutting-edge HVAC system. FläktGroup SEMCO provided the chilled beam system for this project, spearheading the initiative toward LEED certification. It’s Philadelphia’s first LEED Platinum–certified office building and the first multi-tenant, multi-certified LEED Platinum building in the world. Completed in 2013, it’s no wonder this 98,000-square-foot, five-story facility in the University City neighborhood attracts eco-conscious tenants who want to make green real estate investments.
Scott Mazo, principal of University Partnership Associates (UPA), led the team of designers for 2.0 University Place. Mazo established UPA in 2009 with the hope of bringing new industry and new energy to the neighborhood while focusing on environmental sustainability. Thomas Rice, director of sales at FläktGroup SEMCO, says Mazo brought inventive, sustainable ideas to the project, boosting property values and job opportunities.
“The process of working with SEMCO went very well—it really was a team effort,” Mazo says. “They were passionate about their technology and had a depth of knowledge and resources.”
An efficient HVAC system can make all the difference in saving energy and reducing costs and carbon footprints alike. 2.0 University Place’s HVAC system incorporates a mix of green technology—active chilled beams, dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS), and economical boilers and chillers. “The chilled beam system is a major contributor to the building’s sustainability story and ongoing energy efficiency,” says Michael Pavelsky, sustainability director at The Sheward Partnership, which tracks 2.0 University Place’s energy performance.
“We were excited about SEMCO’s technology and what it would do for energy efficiency and health quality,” Mazo says. “The hardest challenge was that it was something new—the construction industry can be extremely conservative and resistant to change. There had to be hardcore education about the new technology.”
Mazo knew firsthand how uncomfortable it was working in an office that didn’t have an effective HVAC system, so for him it was a no-brainer to go with the active chilled beam system—according to energy modeling, this system saves more than 62% on energy than conventional HVAC systems. By controlling temperatures and relative humidity (RH) levels, the chilled beams and DOAS increase indoor air comfort and quality. “SEMCO designed a beam that has a very low static pressure drop, making the beam very efficient for both cooling and heating,” Martin says. The four-pipe HVAC system serves its tenants well even during seasonal changes, allowing for concurrent heating and cooling choices to combat perimeter heat loss and solar heat gain.
The Pinnacle DOAS unit at 2.0 University Place manages all of the building’s ventilation and indoor humidity load, responding to varying conditions on demand. This unit maximizes efficiency—its passive dehumidification wheel uses the return air from the space to dehumidify the supply air.
"By supplying a lower dew point from the DOAS unit we are able to handle all the latent load from the space with a reduced airflow from our unit, saving horsepower,” Martin says. Most dehumidification energy wheels transfer as much as 50% of contaminants into the airstream—FläktGroup SEMCO’s Pinnacle DOAS transfers less than .045%. FläktGroup SEMCO’s HVAC system also requires less outdoor air to achieve this high standard of air quality. Because of the purer air, the occupants feel a noticeable air comfort difference. The facility’s HVAC system also reduces fan energy by up to 50%. FläktGroup SEMCO provides an actuator on the active chilled beam that adjusts the nozzles to deliver a constant induction rate. Fans are able to run at a lower speed, decreasing energy usage, as well as reducing fan short-cycling, which causes noise pollution and could shorten the fan’s lifespan.
Learn more about FläktGroup SEMCO.