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Difference between revisions of "HEIF Science D retrofit"

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Robinson IV, J. Johnson, P. Kinser, B. Jacobson, A. Moxon, T. Brown, J.HVAC Efficiency Measures for Science D/E. Retrieved October 19, 2009 from
Robinson IV, J. Johnson, P. Kinser, B. Jacobson, A. Moxon, T. Brown, HVAC Efficiency Measures for Science D/E. Retrieved October 19, 2009 from

Revision as of 00:56, 12 December 2009

Engr115 Page in Progress
Warning: Possibly Inaccurate Content
This page is currently being edited by students in Engr115 Intro to Engineering. The content should be considered inaccurate until this message is removed. Please refrain from making edits before December 18th, 2009 unless you are a part of this class. Feel free to make comments using the discussion tab.

Figure 1: HSU's Science D Building (Source: Marley DeLlamas)


Figure 2: Energy Consumption at HSU

The purpose of this page is to explain how retrofits made to a building at Humboldt State University(HSU) can reduce energy and fossil fuel consumption. Students wrote a grant proposal to the Humboldt Energy Independence Fund(HEIF) with the goal of improving energy efficiency on campus. The Sci D/E complex includes the science and engineering building as well as the greenhouse at Humboldt State University. The building (Sci D/E complex) was originally designed by Ratcliff Architects. Paul Wright and William Lowe were the contractors for the project. The idea was for a state of the art design, utilizing passive solar heating from the south and west facing windows and vents as a major architectural feature pictured above in Figure 1. As is common in the state building bidding process, the lowest bidder is awarded the project. Due to inflation and the time lapse in cost figuring, the contractor found the project funding to be insufficient, and the computer controllers for opening and closing solar heating and cooling vents were eliminated. The manual controls installed in place of the computers were ineffective. The building never cooled or heated properly, and the passive solar design proved to be primarily inefficient. Several attempts at addressing these issues have been made since 1982. The current system of cooling and heating makes the Sci D/E complex the third biggest energy user on campus with only the ceramics lab and wildlife building being higher, as shown in Figure 2. The "HVAC Efficiency Measures for Sci D/E" proposal made to HEIF by HSU engineering students addresses these costs and plans. (What current proposal are you referring to? This page or a HEIF proposal? Unclear.)

Proposed Design Changes

Figure 3: Air Handling Fans located on roof of Sci D. (Source: Marley DeLlamas)

In order to increase energy efficiency and lower CO2 emissions, three measures will be implemented. These measures are insulation of the hot water loop, conversion of the current pneumatic Sci D air and heat controls to Direct Digital Control (DDC), and the addition of Variable Frequency Drives (VFD) for air handling fans. Currently 845 feet of copper hot water distribution piping in the Science E building are uninsulated, which results in wasted heat during times when the greenhouse is vented for cooling. Science D has been operating in a "constant volume reheat" mode since 2005, or earlier, because more than 70% of the controllers that regulate air flow in the building are non-functional. Installing variable frequency drives on the supply and return fans (Figure 3) is expected to yield a 60% savings in energy as compared to the current type of controllers on the fans. Justifications for changes to the hot water piping are outlined below in the funding section.

Insulate Existing Hot Water Piping

The uninsulated piping in Sci E is responsible for wasted usage of energy. Heat is released by the pipes when they are used because there is no cover to prevent the heat from flowing to the surrounding air. Many plants within the building require specific temperatures for optimal growth conditions. When there is an excess of heat released, cooling is used to balance the conditions required by particular plants in Sci E. This excess cooling can be controlled by insulating the piping. There are many forms of insulation that can be used such as fiberglass wrapping, polyethylene jackets, and foam insulation. Each have different capacities for moisture content and one will be picked based on the precise need of the building. Insulating the current copper hot water distribution piping would result in immediate savings in heating and cooling.

Convert Variable Air Volume Controls

Most of the pneumatic controllers that drive the air dampers in the Sci D variable air volume (VAV) terminal boxes are non-functional. Field operational checks have shown that because of this supply and return air fans have been operating at full capacity, "constant volume reheat mode", during occupied building hours since 2005 or earlier. The pneumatic controllers use compressed air to regulate temperature within the building, but has difficulty in monitoring demand and verifying proper operation. The direct digital controls utilizes automated controls by a digital device for proper functionality of the variable frequency drives. The variable frequency drives are used to better control the rotational fans throughout the sci D building. The proposed design change involves converting pneumatic Sci D air and heat controls to DDC.

Install Variable Frequencey Drives

A variable frequency drive (VFD) is a system for controlling the output of an AC motor by limiting the amounts of electrical energy supplied. Installing these variable frequency drives on the air handling fans is expected to have an energy savings of about 60%. This 60% comes from the replacement of the current vari-cone flow control devices that are less efficient than modern VFDs.

Other Energy Saving Opportunities

Figure 4: Torn Diaphragms (Source: Marley DeLlamas)
  • The Air handling equipment is worn out in the Sci D/E complex. There are some torn diaphragms in the unit pictured in Figure 4, that are resulting in a loss of 1,700 cfm (cubic feet per minute) which is equal to a 12% system loss. A system loss is the total amount of all energy lost or wasted due to inefficiency (unaccounted energy use). The budget to repair these parts is $2,200.
  • The window tinting on the Trombe wall is degrading and peeling off in spots and should be replaced.

Project Benefits

There are many potential benefits from retrofitting the Sci D/E Complex that include, saving money on energy, lowering HSU's carbon footprint, maximizing energy efficiency, and many educational benefits for future engineering classes. There are several lower division and upper division engineering classes that will be able to use the energy improvements as examples in their classes. The evaluation and monitoring data can be used in the following classes listed in Table 1.

Table 1: Potential Benefiting Classes
Course Numbers Course Names
Engr 322 Environmental Data Modeling & Analysis
Engr 326 Computational Methods for Environmental Engineering III
Engr 331 Mechanics & Science of Materials
Engr 471 Thermodynamics & Energy Systems II
Engr 473 Building Energy Analysis

Student Interns

One benefit of the retrofit is that three 100 hour student internships will be appointed. The Baseline Intern, Project Intern, and Verification Intern will be chosen by a joint committee combined of stock holders in Plant Operations as well as HEIF. The interns will earn about what the other student energy jobs on campus earn in the range of ($10-12/hr). Each intern will have a unique set of job responsibilities and tasks expected of him/her.
The Baseline Intern has duties that include installing energy monitoring equipment on Sci D/E fans as well as documenting steps taken during installation and baseline estimates. Another duty of this intern is to assist in the pipe insulation which involves ordering parts and participating in the installation. The intern will be able to gain additional on the job training opportunities in dealing with a retrofit project in a variety of ways. This includes working directly with Plant Operation personnel in funding applications.
The Project Intern will serve as a liaison between the contractor and Plant Operations which includes training such areas as conducting meetings, field experience, and documenting the design and installation process. The intern will also present information obtained to the HSU community. The continuation of funding applications also runs through the Project Intern.
The Verification Intern is involved in re-installing the energy monitoring equipment and making a projection of the performance verification. They are then to report results to the HSU community and sponsors of the project. The Verification Intern is responsible for the finalization of all steps in the funding process and assisting in any issues that occur post-installation. In addition, all interns will work with instructors from the Engineering Department to ensure all data and procedures are carried out properly for accurate results. All retrofit data will be available to future 473 students and other classes. A student intern will also be able to aid in all phases of the project.


The total project budget is estimated to be $93,200 shown in Table 2. The overall request for HEIF is $25,000. In addition to money from HEIF this project is eligible for funding from the (UC/CSU/IOU) Energy Efficiency Partnership Program (EEPP). EEPP will reimburse HSU $0.24/kWh or $1 per therm avoided in the first year up to 80% of the project costs. Multiple sources have estimated this funding to be equal to $43,200. Plant Operations has also agreed to provide $25,000 in matching funds.

Table 2: Project Budget Estimate
Equipment Units Cost per unit Total cost
Pipe Insulation 1 $1,500 $1,500
DDC conversion equipment 1 $25,000 $25,000
25 hp VFD 2 $2,800 $5,600
10 hp VFD 2 $1,300 $2,600
VFD ctrl sensors 12 $1,200 $14,400
480 VAC power monitoring equipment 1 $3,500 $3,500
Labor Hours Cost per hours Total cost
Pipe insulation install 20 $50 $1,000
DDC conversion N/A N/A $25,000
VFD installation N/A N/A $11,000
Student interns 300 $12 $3,600
Total $93,200

Projected Timeline

The Sci D/E retrofit has been approved by HEIF for funding and the initial steps have begun. Plant Operations is currently in the process of acquiring a project contractor. The starting date was initially planned to be in the Fall of 2009. However it was changed to a more realistic starting date which is to be in the Spring or Summer of 2010. Despite the delayed groundwork, the installation of energy monitoring readings has already begun. These initial readings will be compared to energy readings in future steps of the project. A detailed description of the retrofit timeline follows in appendix 6 on page 16 of the HEIF Proposal.

Recent Updates to Science D/E Complex

The HEIF proposal suggested that the 1990 chiller unit be replaced with a newer more efficient model. As a result it was replaced in 2009 with a new unit as shown in Figure 5. Projected savings are 3,200 kWh a year with a demand savings of 8kw.

Figure 5: Newly Installed Chiller Outside of Greenhouse (Source: Marley DeLlamas)

See Also

Beth's Comments

  • I like your first window.
  • You are using numbered headings in your Contents, but not in your text.... Confusing
  • Be sure to use complete captions. Read all the editing codes, especially the ones under Conventions.
  • Write for an international audience. What is HSU? CT4 Use links to help explain
  • You call the building both Science D and Science D/E. Be consistent. I prefer Science D, as that is the common name, but you should call it what you think you should call it.
  • Be sure you understand the required format for citing and listing references.... the Conventions list should help.
  • Tie in where Sci D and E are on campus using a reference and link to a campus map and words (e.g. on B street between.... x... and y....
  • You have some good writing here.... need to deal with jargon and some organization ideas.
  • Good start.


Direct Digital Control. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved November 11, 2009, from

Tall Chief Comet. Personal Communication. October 27, 2009.

Variable Frequency Drives. November 9, 2008. In Wikipedia. Retrieved November 11, 2009, from

Robinson IV, J. Johnson, P. Kinser, B. Jacobson, A. Moxon, T. Brown, HVAC Efficiency Measures for Science D/E. Retrieved October 19, 2009 from