Case Study: Clinical and Translational Science Building, Part III
Lisa Taylor, May 31, 2012 Download PDF
This final article in a three-part series on the University of Rochester’s Clinical and Translational Science Building provides an overview of the collaborative design process that led to the facility’s efficient mechanical and electrical infrastructure.
The University of Rochester’s Clinical and Translational Science Building was designed with one overarching vision: to create an environment that inherently fosters collaboration among the diverse departments of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. From the initial project briefing all the way through the construction phase, the extensive and diverse project team embraced the inherent concept of collaboration in its design approach, working cohesively to successfully unite the Clinical and Translational Science Building's residents – administrative staff, researchers, and clinicians – in a LEED Gold certified facility.
Led by architectural firm Francis Cauffman, the project team included experts from Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers; Bergman Associates; Donald Blair Architects; Architerra; Mark Chen Architect; Archi-Technology; SAIC; LeChase Construction; and the University of Rochester Medical Center.
“Francis Cauffman established the vision and drove the process,” says Britt Ellis, associate principal with Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers. “The comprehensive project team converged at the onset of the project to discuss strategy, brainstorm solutions to design challenges, and help make decisions.”
According to Ellis, the alignment of the team at the beginning of the four-year project yielded process efficiencies, as well as electrical and mechanical system efficiencies. In addition, this early alignment helped the university to qualify for energy incentives through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
“We began by discussing the orientation of the building and the use of glass, since this would impact the lighting and HVAC systems that would be considered,” says Ellis. “We invested a lot in early coordination with respect to building orientation – a level of detail that you may not usually see in a typical project.”
Ellis explains that the team also met early in the process regarding energyefficiency goals, working closely with NYSERDA to investigate potential rebate incentives. “As a result of incorporating the recommended energy measures, the university was able to qualify for a $230,000 rebate,” he says.
In order to meet the NYSERDA requirements and ultimately achieve the level of points necessary for LEED Gold certification, the team had to analyze energy efficiency both holistically and in the context of individual systems. “One challenge we faced is that the building is part of a campus, so it gets its chilled water and heat from an offsite source,” says Ellis. “We didn’t have a lot of control over this, which presented a challenge in terms of obtaining LEED energy optimization points.”
To overcome this challenge, Bard, Rao + Athanas focused on managing variables associated with ventilation, daylight harvesting, and occupancy.
As part of the due-diligence planning process, the engineering team explored the potential of using an underfloor distribution system for the air supply, but eventually concluded that a conventional overhead system was more optimally suited for the space. “We ended up going with a
basic conventional all-air VAV system,” says Ellis. “It’s ultimately the controls we built into the system that make it efficient, rather than the system itself.”
The engineering firm implemented two main control schemes: one that measures CO2 levels and automatically adjusts ventilation and room temperature based on occupancy, and another that uses ceiling-mounted sensors to automatically adjust lighting levels according to available daylight. Due to the variable lighting system, the Clinical and Translational Science Building has a lower lighting power density and requires less energy than other similarly sized structures. “All the efficiencies we incorporated were based on the little things, but they added up and made a difference” says Ellis.
When it came to the other electrical aspects of the infrastructure, the Clinical and Translational Science Building project was rare, according to Ellis. “The building is a hybrid, being utilized for traditional office space, as well as a research facility,” he says. “Because of the occupants’ computational needs and large data load, the power infrastructure was heavy in terms of electrical needs.” Bard, Rao + Athanas engineered the overall design for the electrical infrastructure, while consulting with low-voltage systems engineer Archi-Technology on the specific power needs of the telecommunication and data server rooms.
Ellis says that Bard, Rao + Athanas was a natural fit for the Clinical and Translational Science Building project team. “We specialize in medical and clinical facilities, as well as research buildings, so this project was the nexus of both,” he says. “In addition, we had an existing relationship with the University of Rochester. Having worked with the University for 20 years, we were already very familiar with their needs and expectations.”