In a previous post I shared with you some of the great features of the LEED Platinum certified Centre for Green Cities building at the Evergreen Brick Works. It turns out this place is even cooler than I thought - pun absolutely intended.
Just as the heat and humidity took over from the cold and rain last week, Evergreen kick started their state-of-the-art cooling system. Using six different but interrelated strategies, traditional air conditioning use will be minimized and energy will be saved.
Keeping the Heat Out
Not only are the building's external walls well insulated, but the windows themselves keep heat out with a special film that redirects heat away from our offices like a mirror. Additionally, all windows are equipped with blinds - sometimes the simplest strategies are the best!
Natural Cooling - Open Windows
In the spring and fall, and on cooler summer days, tenants can open their windows (the type you crank open with a hinge at the top so that a slot opens at the bottom). In the past we've had our office door slam shut because of the cross ventilation from our windows to those on the opposite side of the building. Clearly the windows have been strategically placed to encourage a breeze to run through the building. Ceiling fans enhance this air movement on non-windy days.
Thermal (Solar) Chimneys
Imagine a fire place with the fire at the top: making use of convection, three chimneys run from the second to fifth floors, heated at the top by the sun to draw the building's warm air up and out. Solar-powered fans are used on days when the conditions aren't right for the natural convection process to occur. Brilliant.
Night Cooling - Closed Windows
On cool evenings and nights, the windows are opened and fans are used to cool the concrete slabs that form the building's floors. The next day, with the windows closed again, hot outside temperatures take longer to heat up the building because it was pre-cooled overnight.
High-Efficiency Scroll Chillers
As a last resort, a very efficient staged mechanical air conditioning system can be used at partial or full capacity on the hottest days when the other methods just don't cut it.
Building Control System
An automated system has been programmed to respond to a variety of scenarios based on outdoor air temperatures. The simulation model used to design the system has predicted an energy savings of 30-40% over conventional buildings!
We must collectively begin to recognize that insisting on feeling cool on the hottest summer days is absolutely unsustainable. It is possible to be productive at work while saving energy. I used to hate having to change into pants, closed shoes, and a sweater at my desk at the hospital because the A/C was so cold! A moderate temperature is much more comfortable when you're dressed in shorts or a skirt and a loose-fitting top. Enjoying a Mega Mr. Freeze works, too.
What are ideal working conditions for you? Do you need cold, dry air to be productive at work?
Photo of air conditioners used under Creative Commons from Peter Morgan (pmorgan/flickr).
Photo of Mega Mr. Freeze used under Creative Commons from Christa (Christaface/flickr).