Serving slightly more than 30,000 undergraduate students, Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) is a prosperous educational and economic center for its’ state. When the university was experiencing an operational problem with its central utility plant, which heats and cools one dining hall and five residence halls, it called on Gresham Smith to analyze and correct the issue. Our engineers’ smart solution ultimately reduces energy consumption, improves air quality, and gives students and staff more control over the temperature in their space.
student centered buildings
year life span
Working Backwards to Find the SolutionOur engineers began by analyzing the entire system to understand how the individual buildings were functioning and how they were affecting the capacity of the central utility plant. The existing central utility plant used a constant volume pumping system. Our engineers found that the secondary system was experiencing uncontrolled demands that exceeded what the primary system could handle, because of modifications made to the system over several years. As a result, the system was not able to leverage its full capacity, leaving students and staff without adequate heating and air conditioning.
After identifying the issue, the team worked with Virginia Tech and their subcontractors to make adjustments to the pumping system that would ultimately convert the constant volume secondary system, to a variable flow arrangement. The team proposed a phased approach that would incorporate less invasive changes to improve the overall system distribution quickly, they proposed other changes that would fully convert the system to variable flow and improve operations, maintenance and minimize energy consumption. These modifications would allow the system to modulate and meet dynamic conditions while improving occupant comfort.