Counterpoints to Heights Observer article on Renovated High School

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I noticed the recent Heights Observer article:
“Renovated high school on track for August 2017 completion”

The sentence “The building will be one of the most energy-efficient high schools in the nation.” is in error.

There is no evidence to support that sentence. The Sustainability Working Group (SWG) reviewed the design in July-August 2015 and found too many inadequacies to make any claim of remarkable energy performance for the building. The SWG used the highly respected ASHRAE high school building design guide for this climate zone to benchmark against, a document referenced in the original accepted Lay Facilities Committee (LFC) report to the Board of Education.

Examples of inadequacies:

1) R-20 insulation is in all the roofs is the design. R-30 is the recommended level per ASHRAE. That means 50% more heat will be lost through the roof in winter and gained in summer than recommended. Buildings that get remarkable “high performance” ratings will go to R-50 and higher.

2) The geothermal system is a hybrid design with a gas boiler to keep the building warm enough in winter and cooling towers to keep it cool enough in summer. ASHRAE recommends full geothermal systems that do not need the extra energy consumption or operating costs of boilers and cooling towers.

The original LFC budget plan accepted in the Issue #81 bond levy of 2013 included the cost for a full geothermal system. The BoE abandoned full geothermal while trying to make up for the Wiley enabling cost over-runs.

In addition to there being a hybrid system, that system is incorrectly designed per SWG consultation with an international Geothermal system designer. The details of this are technical. I am willing to share them with anyone interested.

3) A swimming pool by its very nature is the biggest energy consumer of any sub-system a building can have. The retired chief engineer and architect for CWRU evaluated the swimming pool design and found the insulation so poor (like the rest of building) that wall and ceiling condensation will be big trouble, and the high volume and velocity of dehumidified air designed to mitigate it is an extreme energy consumer.

4) There is no humidification system in the building as a whole. So in winter months rooms will likely have parched dry air similar to the old building. Teachers and students will open windows to try to mitigate that and large amounts of heat will go out the windows.

I can send you the record of the SWG evaluation if desired to understand more deeply the details of these examples and others.

The SWG researched the new Elyria High School design during 2013. That building’s performance is notably better than the HH design.

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