Architectural engineering students witness energy-efficiency testing
Friday, February 12th, 2010
Have you ever wondered how well your home’s heating and air-conditioning system is performing? Americans spend billions of dollars every year to live in a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and engaging environment. Countless hours of design and construction are dedicated to ensure homeowners are satisfied and safe within their homes.
Today, Americans must consider the sustainability of their home and the effectiveness of the heating and air-conditioning units, both initially and over the life cycle of the equipment.
Two Lawrence Tech architectural engineering students and members of the student chapters of the Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) were selected to recently witness and assist in preparing the testing required to reach the highest standards of accountability for sustainability.
The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) testing took place at the 7,800-square-foot Roffey-Danto residence in West Bloomfield. Young and Young Architects of West Bloomfield Township designed the green and sustainable residence in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Index (www.energystar.gov) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
HERS is noted for its blower-door test. Essentially, the home’s heating and air-conditioning ductwork is measured for performance. A pressurized test is utilized to determine the overall air-tightness and the energy efficiency performance of the home and results in an overall score for the home’s system performance.
The HERS Index for HVAC systems is similar to a stethoscope for the human heart. It is used to obtain a ‘pulse’ on the home. Tests are performed on the heating system ductwork, outdoor air intakes and exhausts throughout the home to check for leaks. An index score, based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code, is used as a measure. Using the given code as the baseline, the goal is to reach the gold standard of being a zero-energy home.
The students were invited to participate in the testing by James Newman, CEM, LEED AP, OPMP, managing partner of Newman Consulting Group of Bloomfield Hills. “I wanted to invite these students to take a firsthand look into what a ‘model’ work site should look like,” he said. “The key is that you walk away from this experience having learned something new.”
“These types of experiences equip students with the knowledge of what really goes into the exciting field of architectural engineering and how their experience, expertise and ingenuity will prepare them to create model buildings for building owners and occupants,” said Filza Walters, director of Lawrence Tech’s architectural engineering program.
The students wish to thank Newman, Dave Moran and the Roffey-Danto family for the opportunity to witness and participate in the HERS Test, and they look forward to assisting on any future site developments that are seeking LEED certification. There is no index that can truly measure the importance of a firsthand experience in the field of architectural engineering.
Antone Schweitzer, one of the two students who is additionally a student member of the Detroit Regional Chapter of USGBC (DRC-USGBC) and the Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD), said: “I have been working in my spare time to prepare for the LEED Green Associate (GA) credentials exam. This is practical experience to go along with the principles and information I have been studying in and out of the classroom. Thanks so much for the opportunity!”
– Antone Schweitzer and Jeremy Weathers