Radiant Cooling and Heating Systems

Case Study / September 13, 2017 / Building Innovation / HVAC

Several buildings with radiant heating and cooling systems were studied under a California Energy Commission EPIC research project in 2016-2017 and those case studies are available here. While forced-air distribution systems remain the predominant approach to heating and cooling in U.S. commercial buildings, radiant systems are emerging as a part of high performance buildings. Radiant systems transfer energy via a surface that contains piping with warmed or cooled water, or a water/glycol mix; these studies focused on radiant floor and suspended ceiling panel systems. These systems can contribute to significant energy savings due to relatively small temperature differences between the room set point and cooling/heating source, and the efficiency of using water rather than air for thermal distribution.

Bullitt Center is a six-story, 44,700 square foot (SF) office building located in Seattle, WA. The Bullitt Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization with a focus on the environment, worked with local real estate firm Point32 to develop the $32.5 million building. The building was the vision of Denis Hayes to create “the greenest urban office building in the world” and it received the Sustainable Building of the Year award from World Architecture News in 2013 and many subsequent green building awards.
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Colorado State University (CSU) Powerhouse Energy Campus is a 65,000 square foot addition to the 1930s Fort Collins Municipal Power Plant facility. The power plant was decommissioned in 1973, and in 1990, it was converted to a research and educational building containing the University’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory.
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Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building is an 18-story, 512,474 square foot office building located in Portland, Oregon. The building houses more than 16 federal agencies, 1,200 federal employees and is operated by the U.S. General Services Administration. This building was renovated from 2009-2013 and is now one of the most energy efficient large office buildings in the country.
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Lovejoy Opsis Building is a two-story, 19,460 square foot retail and office building located in Portland, Oregon. The building was constructed in 1910 as stables for an historic hardware company. Opsis Architecture purchased the building and did a deep renovation to serve as an example of sustainability as well as provide rentable ground floor retail space, and a second floor office for their firm.
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National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Research Support Facility (RSF) is a 222,000 square foot, 4-story office building located on the campus of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Built in 2010, the building is one of the largest LEED Platinum certified buildings in the nation and was designed to be a zero net energy (ZNE) building. The project serves to align with DOE and NREL’s long-term goals of clean energy and resource minimization.
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Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Headquarters is a 5-story, 147,000 square foot office building housing 460 employees. The Headquarters is a retrofit of a 1950s building and features hydronic radiant systems, photovoltaic panels, rainwater harvesting, waste water treatment and ground-source heat pumps. These technologies enabled the building to achieve LEED Platinum certification in 2012.
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Pomona College Millikan Laboratory and Andrew Science Hall (Millikan Building) is a 3-story, 75,000 square foot building comprised of physics laboratories, machine shops, a computer lab, teaching spaces, faculty and administration offices and student common areas located in Claremont, California. The building design was informed by a collaborative design process that encouraged input from the building’s stakeholders including faculty, students and staff from math, physics and astronomy.
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Port of Portland headquarters is a three story office space with 450 Port employees built above seven stories of public parking located at the Portland International Airport. The building targeted reduced energy and carbon and is ranked in the top ten of the world’s most high tech green buildings by Forbes in 2010.
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Reliable Controls Headquarters annex is a 4-story office building housing 80 employees. The 16,000 square foot building is LEED Platinum certified, designed to operate using 50% less energy than standard ASHRAE 90.1(1999) buildings.
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These case studies are part of a project focused on energy and occupant factors within the larger study Optimizing Radiant Systems for Energy Efficiency and Comfort. Additional case studies and the full research findings on energy use and occupant perceptions of the indoor environment will be available at www.cbe.berkeley.edu/research/optimizing-radiant-systems.htm.