Following the recent London Olympics, anything with “gold” sounds good.
That is also the case with the new Cuneo Hall; environmental gold, that is. The building has submitted an application for LEED Gold certification and is hoping the stamp of approval comes soon. Regardless of the outcome, the architects behind the building at Solomon Cordwell Buenz and their engineering consultants, Elara Engineering, have certainly pulled off an impressive architectural performance. To the average student walking through the doors of Cuneo, however, the engineering jargon can seem as flummoxing as how a human could pole vault 20 feet in the air.
Here is a rundown of some of the environmentally friendly technology being utilized in Cuneo, made simple by Loyola project manager Wayne Sliwa.
High performance exterior enclosure: The building has a masonry skin comprised of an exterior facade of brick separated from the interior drywall by concrete masonry blocks (cement blocks), insulation, and an air gap. The result, and this is where it gets technical, is a significantly low coefficient of heat transfer from the exterior wall to the interior surface – resulting in a significantly reduced energy requirement to heat and cool the building.
In-slab radiant heating and cooling: The majority of the classrooms in the building are heated and cooled by radiant heat from the ceiling panels in each room rather than the more conventional forced air ventilation or in the floor concrete slab radiant heating and cooling. There are two benefits to this approach. One is that radiant heating inherently is a much more efficient and comfortable heating system. The other is that heating and cooling the smaller mass of ceiling panels, rather than the concrete floor, results in a quicker response time to heat and cool the room as well as tighter control of room temperatures.
Operable windows that allow fan operation, natural ventilation: There are probably between 45 to 65 days per year where the building can operate with natural heating and cooling, thus not using any energy. In each room there is a green light and red light, which indicates to the instructor when to open the windows because the building is in a natural ventilation mode. If the light is green, there is no mechanical cooling or heating in the room because of optimal temperatures outside, and instructors should go ahead and open the windows.
Low velocity displacement ventilation: You need to maintain a certain amount of air coming into the building and refreshing the building. If carbon dioxide levels get too high, people will be falling asleep in the rooms. With the words “low velocity,” all we are really doing is making sure there is enough fresh air in the building at a low velocity: no whistling wind sound and you don’t feel a breeze.
Atrium that passively induces natural stack ventilation: The stainless steel grill in the atrium is connected through duct work in the basement to the outside. When the temperature outside is optimal, the damper opens, allowing outside air to come in. Then, the windows at the top open up, and just like in a chimney, the warm air gets sucked up to the outside, and natural ventilation occurs. At the same time, if classrooms are opening their windows, that air also gets pulled into the building, further cooling the rooms and the building.
Building Automation System: In between the Klarchek Information Commons and Cudahy Library there is a weather station. The weather station senses things like, what’s the outside air temperature, what’s the humidity, is there precipitation in the form of rain or snow, what’s the wind velocity, etc. It then sends a signal to a server and that information is used throughout the campus. Then there are two separate control systems that are employed in the different buildings. They reside on two different servers. Each building has its own, BAS, or Building Automation System. That takes that data and uses it to know what is going on outside. That system says “Hey its hot out, the sun is shining. I need more chilled water going through the system.”