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Just like the electric vehicle revolution has transformed the market, the built environment holds the same potential. This case study proves that electric-based approaches can work, with new systems phased in over time. The fundamental principle of this project was a deep examination into the energy flows within commercial office spaces. While lights provide illuminance, they also give off heat. Office equipment and occupants behave much in the same way- they are essential dynamic components within the building program and have a thermal signature that a building’s heating and cooling systems must respond to. The analysis was based on examining opportunities to reuse/recycle/balance these flows via hydronic-based HVAC retrofits at multiple scales of renovation.

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Reflections
  • Focusing on energy flows: The fundamental principle of this project was a deep examination into the energy flows within commercial office spaces. While lights provide illuminance, they also give off heat. Office equipment and occupants behave much in the same way- they are essential dynamic components within the building program and have a thermal signature that a building’s heating and cooling systems must respond to. The analysis was based on examining opportunities to reuse/recycle/balance these flows via hydronic-based HVAC retrofits at multiple scales of renovation. 

  • A more sustainable and circular approach consists of:
    • Leveraging heat recovery ventilation to reduce conditioning loads
    • Separating fresh air delivery from heating and cooling systems by using a dedicated outdoor air supply
    • Recycling existing sources of heat within the building during the cold weather rather than rejecting it to the atmosphere.
    • Utilizing heat pumps to satisfy remaining heating loads in buildings and fully eliminate the use of fossil fuel combustion
  • New systems can be phased in over time: Rather than retrofitting the entire building, work can be done on a floor-by-floor basis, which is easier on the budget, allows for greater flexibility and is less disruptive to existing tenants. It is estimated that full-floor tenants vacate spaces every 10 to 15 years.
Contributing Organizations

BlocPowerBluePrint PowerEnergy MachinesHinesHudson Square PropertiesHunter Roberts Construction Group  New Building InstituteNodaNorges Bank Investment ManagementThornton TomasettiTrinity Church Wall Streeturbs Urban Systems Van Zelm Engineering