High-Performance Energy Recovery Options Designed to Minimize Electrical and Gas Service Requirements While Delivering Optimal Energy and Financial Results

Tom McGee, Konvekta USA Inc.

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As a result of the significant heating and cooling demand associated with lab facilities, designing mechanical systems to support a lab building presents many challenges, including allocating the physical space for chillers and boilers, as well as developing a budget and securing the funding needed to install the necessary mechanical and utilities infrastructure. This presentation highlights the operational, energy, and financial outcomes that can be achieved through the application of several high-performance energy recovery system design options, specifically developed to reduce lab energy requirements, while also providing an opportunity to realize the benefits of downsizing the utility infrastructure necessary to support the environmental needs of a lab building. The energy recovery options outlined include designs based on the characteristics of the climate zone where the lab is located, and result in a significantly lower building energy use intensity (EUI), while also minimizing the peak demand requirements of the central heating and cooling plant.

The initial energy recovery system design option included in this presentation was developed for labs located in regions where dehumidification is required. Although dehumidification applications can be challenging for any organization with a goal of developing and constructing environmentally responsible buildings, the presentation demonstrates how incorporating a high performance energy recovery system into the design of a building can offset a significant amount of the energy needed to support the dehumidification process. The final design option presented deploys an exhaust air evaporative cooling process, and is most commonly utilized in dry climate zones. This example also includes a free-cooling option that allows for lab process heat to be rejected into the energy recovery loop during periods of low ambient outside air temperatures, boosting the annual heating performance of the lab building.

Accounting for energy recovery benefits in the selection of mechanical equipment and the design of the utilities infrastructure can provide the framework necessary to reduce the size of the following elements: cooling tower capacity; chilled or hot water underground piping; electric or gas utilities; and refrigerant exhaust systems. Any or all of the elements referenced can significantly impact the initial capital requirements and affect design, permit, and construction timelines. In conclusion, evaluating energy recovery options during the initial development stages of a project can help a building owner to realize significant energy and financial benefits during both the construction and operation of a lab building.

Learning Objectives

  • Designing an energy recovery coil for optimal efficiency;
  • Lowering Lab facility capital cost requirements using high performance energy recovery system analysis;
  • Maximizing the benefits of an energy recovery system based on design options tailored for the climate zone; and
  • Reducing the electric and gas utility impacts of a Lab building with high performance energy recovery.


Tom McGee is an Account Manager for Konvekta USA, where his focus is on the design, development, and optimization of high performance energy recovery systems. He was previously the Energy Manager at the University of Denver for nine years, where his responsibilities included all aspects of HVAC and building automation infrastructure. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Southern Illinois University, and has more than 30 years of experience in the HVAC industry.


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