Competitively Priced Sustainable Design

Barry Barnet, R.G. Vanderweil Engineers

The Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden, Joint Board of Governors, Joint Health Science Center (JHSC) located in Camden NJ utilizes a supplemental cooling design with neutral supply air, combined with other sustainable design features, to achieve an attractive EUI and a first cost comparable to less energy efficient traditional designs.

The building consists of a combination of chemistry and biology laboratories, a vivarium, classrooms, simulation teaching environments, conferencing, and administration areas. There is a dedicated fume hood exhaust system in the building.

A multiple arrangement of energy recovery devices in the air handling units results in the supply of neutral supply air into the building for ventilation. This air also serves as make-up for exhaust and also provides de-humidification during the summer. Neutral supply air conditions refers to air as close as possible to room design temperature. This neutral supply air condition is maintained year round through the use of multiple energy recovery devices in series. A cooling coil water economizer in the air handling unit produces cooling water at 50 F to serve supplemental devices in Elec/IT/Equipment rooms calling for cooling in the winter mode, while helping to preheat the incoming ventilation/make-up air.

There are 4 steps of energy recovery under winter operation:

1.Initial pre-heating of the ventilation air using a glycol run-around loop on the fume hood hazardous exhaust

2.Further pre-heating of the ventilation air at the first of two energy wheels using the building general exhaust

3.Additional pre-heating in the air handling unit cooling coil using the water economizer

4.Final pre-heating to neutral air conditions at the second energy wheel

There are 2 steps of energy recovery under summer operation to cool, dehumidify, and reheat to neutral conditions using the dual energy wheels, with high recovery efficiency.

The supplemental cooling devices consist of ceiling induction units similar to active chilled beams, but with integral drain pans as a safety feature. Under normal operation the induction units provide sensible cooling only without condensation. A portion of the neutral ventilation air also serves as the primary air needed to power the induction units.

The presentation will provide a description of the design, cost estimates comparing this proposed system to a more traditional variable air volume system with single stage energy recovery, the estimated EUIs for both systems, and a simple payback analysis. It will briefly touch on some additional low cost sustainable design strategies.

Learning Objectives

  • To provide an example of an affordably priced sustainable MEP design for a laboratory building.
  • To provide a method of determining exceptional calculations to predict the EUI for the facility.
  • To provide a cost comparison to a good practice, low first cost design for the same building for use in a simple life cycle analysis.
  • To provide an example of other design considerations such as mechanical space requirements, maintenance considerations, and coordination with architectural design.


Barry is a Senior Project Engineer with over 38 years of professional experience that includes the design of HVAC and piping systems for a variety of project types and LEED® levels. His responsibilities have been establishing the building's cooling and heating loads, selecting and specifying the type of systems and equipment and implementing designs into contract documents. He has engineered and designed mechanical rooms for a variety of usages with a particular emphasis on sustainable design.


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