Insider Reports

QUICK Sign-up

New Content Updates
Educational Webcast Alerts
Building Products/Technology Notices
Access Exclusive Member Content

All fields are required.

<< Back to Facilities Management News Home

<< Green

New $252 Million Medical Center's Efficient HVAC Design Boasts 18% Energy Savings Vs. Conventional Systems


The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) set out to make the new $252 million Monroeville, Pa., facility the most sustainable of its 30-hospital network. Its design team delivered a building that's saving an estimated $350,000 to $500,000 in annual energy savings.

"Our HVAC system design exceeds ASHRAE 90.1-2004 requirements, and when combined with reduced electrical and lighting loads, it's saving an estimated 18-percent in energy versus the standard minimum construction requirements of a standard HVAC system," said Matthew J. Stevens, EIT, LEED AP, senior project manager, CJL Engineering, Moon Township, Pa., the project's MEP engineering firm. Stevens and CJL's Matthew J. Sotosky, P.E., managing partner, were members of a design team consisting of Joseph T. Badalich, corporate construction project director, UPMC; and architect Timothy Spence, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, principal, BBH Design, Raleigh, N.C.

The design team's green design for the 302,000-square-foot, 155-bed  facility is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver certified. The facility's sustainability measures haven't gone unnoticed. It was recently awarded "Project of the Year" honors in the Commercial Category for 2013 from the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.  "This is certainly one of the most, if not the most, sustainable hospital designs in the Mideast region," said Badalich, who oversaw the project's construction for UPMC.

While some engineers rely only on major HVAC equipment to rack up LEED credits, CJL sees every green opportunity as critical to building performance, such as specifying doorways with air curtains for energy conservation. High efficiency boilers, chillers and rooftop DX systems were major contributors to overall energy savings, however if the energy escapes through doorways, it diminishes the sustainability effort, according to Stevens. Therefore, CJL specified 11 air curtains for energy conservation by protecting all entrances from outdoor air infiltration.      

Installed by the project's mechanical contractor, Ruthrauff Sauer LLC, McKees Rocks, Pa., and manufactured by Berner International, New Castle, Pa., 10 of the air curtains are in-ceiling models that appear as flush ceiling grilles and supplement  BBH's aesthetic lobbies design. Furthermore, the air curtains all draw clean air from the lobby through an integral diffuser versus models that need supply duct or claim air from potentially contaminated, unconditioned air spaces above the ceiling.

Besides energy savings, the air curtains all have electric heaters that are critical for lobby indoor air comfort.  The heaters are efficiently controlled with a delay that continues spot heating at a lower air velocity until the doorway area's set point temperatures are reached.

The eleventh air curtain is a conventional model mounted above the emergency room (ER) doorway that saves energy, but also prevents infiltration of any idling ER vehicle fumes, which is a common hospital industry indoor air quality (IAQ) problem.

All the air curtains use three-speed fans that can be adjusted for proper doorway sealing and minimal operational decibel levels. Berner International trained the building's engineering staff to calibrate and maintain the units for peak performance and energy efficiency.  

While air curtains helped contribute sustainability, most of seven HVAC LEED credits were attributed to a combination chilled water loop and rooftop/variable air volume (VAV) design consisting of three high efficiency, 750-ton water-cooled chillers by Trane, Tyler, Texas; and three 9,900-Mbh boilers by Bryan Steam LLC, Peru, Ind.; and one 6,000-Mbh domestic hot water boiler by Leslie Controls, Tampa, Fla. The boilers operate ultra efficiently due to variable frequency drives (VFD).

CJL also specified three 750-ton cooling towers by Baltimore Aircoil Co., Jessup, Md.; five custom rooftop units ranging from 68,000 to 80,000-cfm each by TMI Climate Solutions, Holly, Mich.; and pumps by Bell & Gossett, Morton Grove, Ill.

BBH's unitized building envelope features low U-factor glass from PPG Industries, Pittsburgh, reducing the heat load enabled CJL to use smaller mechanical equipment, but attain the same indoor air comfort efficacy. 

BBH and UPMC's Badalich were very instrumental in getting the full LEED potential from the 17-acre site, which included razing the impervious location's former dilapidated hotel and asphalt parking lot. LEED efforts included:

·         Crushing the hotel's concrete structure and reusing for the hospital's foundation fill, which saved 6,500 dump truck trips to landfill sites.

·         Positioning the building on the site for the most efficient use of solar gain in winter and using sunshades in the summer combined for heat load reductions of up to 17-percent.

·         Eliminating rainwater runoff of the sloped site into a frequently flooded creek. Instead, storm water is naturally cleaned and evaporated through a series of rain gardens, bioswales and a retention pond to reduce runoff by 36-percent.

Because doorways are critical points for potential energy savings, Stevens said CJL's future hospital projects will all consider air curtains combined with vestibules to increase energy-saving potential at entrances and enhance the entire sustainability design.



About Berner: Berner International Corporation is a 58-year-old U.S. manufacturer and a leader in the air door/air curtain equipment manufacturing industry. Berner is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), The Green Building Alliance (GBA), the Air Movement & Control Association (AMCA), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and also a certified Women’s Business Enterprise National Council member (WBENC). For more information on Berner and its products, please call (724)-658-3551 x403 or visit

More From 8/15/2014 on FacilitiesNet