St. Edwards University has committed to having their buildings designed, constructed, and operated with sustainability in mind. By registering projects with the Austin Energy Green Building Program (AEGB), new buildings on campus can achieve sustainability goals, and commissioning is a key part of the process. EEA was hired to commission the new 64,700 square feet Natural Science Facility Phase 2 building. EEA’s commissioning work ensured that fundamental building elements and systems were installed and calibrated to operate according to the design intent and the owner’s operational needs. The project achieved an AEGB 3-Star rating.
In addition to providing the Owner with a third party to review drawings and inspect the construction installation, one of the advantages of commissioning is testing of the control sequence of operations. To most observers the air conditioning system turns on the cooling when it gets hot in the space and turns on the heat when it gets cold in the space. On the surface this is true, but Engineers write control sequences to save energy while also maintaining building comfort.
During testing on this project, we found the air handling unit static pressure reset sequence was not programmed correctly. This function allows the system to use only as much fan energy as is necessary to keep the space comfortable. If this hadn’t been found during commissioning, then the Owner would have spent more money on fan energy than necessary. This is just one example of the operational issues that are uncovered during building commissioning.
The building spaces included classrooms, offices, study areas and computer rooms. The scope included commissioning of chilled water pumps, variable air volume (VAV) air handling units, VAV terminal units with electric heat, general exhaust, direct digital controls, electric hot water heaters, and lighting control systems throughout the building.