Extreme Energy Savings at DHMC Research Facility

Bryan Rydingsward, Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers
Allan Ames, Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers

Owner and Design team collaboration was key in developing this extremely efficient laboratory building at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH. The ~160,000 sq. ft., 7 story facility aims to align research and patient care through a translational connection between the Medical School and Hospital by bringing together investigators from disciplines across Dartmouth. The building is predominantly research lab space, but also includes office space, a 200 seat auditorium, and a 15,000 sq. ft. vivarium. Its direct connection to other wings of the hospital offers a strategic position on campus.

Along with stringent program objectives, were lofty energy goals that were achieved thru a combination of innovative technologies and analysis. The Owner, Architect, Engineer, and later the Construction Manager and Commissioning Agent worked together to ensure the project goals were achieved. This presentation will focus how we achieved the goals of improving air quality while reducing energy consumption.

Specific Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) that were vetted by the team included: A total energy recovery wheel that transfers waste heat from the LAB exhaust to the supply air streams; chilled beams IN THE LABS and an air quality monitoring system that help reduce outside air change rates; high efficiency light fixtures, high efficiency boilers and chillers, occupancy sensor based lighting and HVAC control, daylight dimming, water side economizer for free winter cooling, system turndown, shutdown and reset control, and a unique process water heat recovery system to preheat the incoming vivarium air in winter, just to name a few.

We will examine the team's process in coming to critical decisions like using the heat wheel, the Air monitoring system and the chilled beams. A full campus scaled model was built and tested in a wind tunnel to evaluate potential for exhaust air re-entrainment back into the building. We found that exhaust stacks could be lowered and fan turndown could be utilized to save energy during low occupancy periods and still meet the recommended health and safety levels at surrounding air intakes.

An energy model was used to evaluate several of these design alternatives and also to estimate the proposed building's EUI to be152 kBtu/sq.ft. This is exemplary compared to typical research spaces and hospitals in the 250-350 EUI range. The building is expected to reduce annual site energy consumption by 37% compared to a minimally code compliant Baseline Design. Based on these results the Proposed Design was eligible to earn 13 points under the USGBC LEED Credit #1 for energy and atmosphere and also receive nearly $150k in energy rebates from the local utility.

Learning Objectives

  • How to utilize a collaborative design process to make informed HVAC design decisions.
  • To identify effective energy conservation measures for hospitals and research facilities alike.
  • How to employ hydronic cooling and heating in research and hospital facilities.
  • How to describe the pros, cons, alternatives and operation of energy recovery devices.


Bryan Rydingsward has over 16 years of experience in the field of HVAC Engineering. Since joining Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers, Bryan has been involved in the engineering of HVAC systems for a broad range of project types for academic, research, science, and healthcare clients nationwide. He received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University; he is a Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer in Massachusetts; and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Allan Ames, President of Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers, has over 30 years of experience in the field of HVAC Engineering. Allan received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, is a licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer in sixteen states (including Massachusetts), and is a LEED Accredited Professional. Allan has been involved in the engineering for a broad range of academic, healthcare, research, and pharmaceutical clients.


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