Achieving Energy Efficiency in a High-Density Fume Hood Chemistry Building

Jennifer Cordes, Hord Coplan Macht
Linda Morrison, Ambient Energy

The 60,000-gsf Chemistry Building on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins, Colorado, serves 115 University researchers with a particularly high fume hood density in an energy-efficient building that achieves an open, day-lighted research space and sustainable site amenities. The building is targeting LEEDv2009 Gold. This presentation gives an overview of building and site constraints that resulted in a small building with more fume hoods per square feet (SF) than any other building in the region. With an ultimate build-out of 125 fume hoods over approximately 30,000 SF of lab space, this building had the potential to be a very high energy consumer.

Several energy-efficiency strategies employed will be discussed. The project's intelligent high-efficiency energy recovery system that was selected in lieu of a traditional glycol run around system, mechanical design, and selection process will be described.

A traditional system runs constant volume glycol flow through high air pressure loss coils to achieve code-required peak effectiveness at design conditions. The intelligent high-efficiency energy recovery system utilizes high-efficiency coils to reduce the air static pressure loss and also modulates the glycol flow based on weather data and design conditions. The resulting annual net effectiveness of the intelligent energy recovery system is approximately 75% annual net effectiveness compared to a traditional run around loop with approximately 25% net annual effectiveness, which is illustrated by both design parameters and CSU's recorded historical operating data. The energy simulation of the high performance energy recovery system was a collaborative effort with continuous exchange between the manufacturer and energy modeler. This was necessary because of the unique operation and custom parameters, control, and operation of this system.

In addition, evaporative fog pre-cooling of the exhaust air prior to the energy recovery coils improved summertime savings. With so many hoods in a small space, it was critical to use laminar flow supply air diffusers located in adjacent areas to avoid turbulence at the face of the hoods.

Early energy benchmarking used the existing CSU Chemistry Building and the I2SL/Labs21 database which showed a wide range. The final design energy model is 119 kBTU/sf/yr compared to 90.1-2007 baseline of 264 kBTU/sf/yr and meets the 2030 Challenge.

Learning Objectives

  • How an intelligent high-efficiency energy recovery system can result in energy savings.
  • How to efficiently distribute air in labs with high-density fume hoods.
  • Applying custom energy modeling parameters for energy recovery and effectiveness.
  • Achieving LEED Optimize Energy Performance results that meet the 2030 Challenge.


With more than 20 years of experience in architecture, Jennifer Cordes leads the Hord Coplan Macht Denver Higher Education Design Studio with an emphasis on Science and Technology projects. She has a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts in Economic from the University of Colorado. Jennifer is a strong advocate for a collaborative and interactive process that focuses on high performing designs to capture the culture of an institution. She led design teams on related science projects, working closely with higher education clients and engineering teams to ensure the client’s goals were realized.

Linda Morrison, PE, is Building Performance Engineer Team Leader and Principal at Ambient Energy with twenty-two years of experience in sustainable design, analysis of energy, renewables, and carbon for energy and operational efficiency. She is a Board Member of the Colorado Chapter of the International Institute of Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL). She has assisted over a dozen clients to design net zero energy facilities.


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