UC Irvine Med Sci C Laboratory Renovation Part 2

Chet Wisner, Ambient Air Technologies

This is part two of a three part presentation sequence covering the UC Irvine Med Sci C Lab Renovation project. MEP, Architectural, and Structural Engineering were all factors in this project. However, this presentation will focus on mechanical, electrical, and wind engineering components that delivered the project's sustainability targets.

This ~56k SF building was designed and built in the 1970's and has largely remained the same before this project. We will discuss the process our team went through to design replacement HVAC systems that improved energy efficiency, control, and air quality at the roof.

This presentation will include a walk through of how we took PDF record drawings, laser scans, and field measurements to generate a BIM model to use as the starting point of our design effort. Mechanical and lighting performance targets were then established to meet the University's energy performance goals. Through strategic replacement of ductwork, coils, terminal units, diffusers, etc. our design was able to target a reduction in air-side pressure drop of ~60% when compared to existing conditions measured by a Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing agent.

Lighting fixtures were replaced with LED fixtures and ceilings were added to rooms that previously were open to structure, which further enhanced overall lighting efficiency. Advanced controls such as "follow me" lighting in the corridors were also implemented.

Holistic HVAC performance with respect to campus utilities was also considered. For example, new AHU chilled water coils achieve a minimum delta-T of 30-degrees Fahrenheit, which helps reduce campus pumping demand and thermal load on the campus thermal energy storage system.

Exhaust stack design was the centerpiece of our rooftop mechanical design, literally and figuratively. This project consolidated several smaller exhaust fans into a centralized laboratory exhaust system that delivers high performance with respect to energy efficiency, operational reliability, and flexibility to accommodate future changes in laboratory needs. The exhaust stacks determine the exhaust plume performance characteristics which directly impacts air quality and energy efficiency potential. The design implemented under this project was the result of close collaboration with our wind consultant. Consideration was given to fluid mechanics fundamentals to converge on a durable solution that yields maximum flexibility and lowest possible energy consumption.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn method for starting with old PDF record drawings and developing a modern BIM model.
  • Understand the benefits of a dynamic and collaborative interaction between multi-discipline teams to deliver highest value designs.
  • Observe examples of design strategies that were proven effective on a laboratory retrofit project.
  • Understand that MEP design should consider interaction with utilities and elements outside of the walls of the building.


Chet has played an active role in the air quality segment of the environmental industry for over 40 years. His educational background includes an MBA in Management Strategy and Policy/Marketing from UCLA, an MS in Meteorology from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and a BS in Engineering Physics from UC Berkeley. He is an active member of several professional organizations including ASHRAE, Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA), AMS (American Meteorological Society) and others.


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