Carbon Footprint Focus Of ASHRAE 2020 LowDown Showdown

ASHRAE’s LowDown Showdown engages architects, engineers, designers, and energy modelers by working on integrated teams to create outstanding designs to solve building efficiency challenges.

Earlier this month, ASHRAE recognized the 2020 LowDown Showdown modeling competition teams. Held virtually for the first time in conjunction with the virtual 2020 Building Performance Analysis Conference and Simbuild co-organized by ASHRAE and IBPSA-USA (International Building Performance Simulation Association), the LowDown Showdown engages architects, engineers, designers, and energy modelers by working on integrated teams in the creation of outstanding designs that solve in real-world building efficiency challenges. For this sixth annual competition, carbon footprint was the focus.carbon footprint

“Each year of the LDSd competition, we ask participating teams to take on a new challenge in building performance analysis, said John Bynum, competition chair. “The teams presented outstanding ideas for designing a new building that has a low carbon or carbon neutral footprint, this year’s challenge.”

This year’s competition took a page from New York City’s new Climate Mobilization Act that requires building owners to reduce their carbon footprint. Participating teams designed a 300,000 square foot, 15-story mixed-use building located anywhere in the five boroughs of New York City. The building contained retail space, residential space and a full-service restaurant.

Teams were evaluated in six categories:

  • Carbon Neutral Approach/Energy Use
  • Creativity
  • Innovative Approaches
  • Sustainability/Durability
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Workflow and Teamwork

First Place: Team Aequitas

First place was awarded to team “Aequitas” for designing a net-zero-energy building (shown above) that balanced contextual neighborhood cues and functional performance. The building’s primary façade captured the design of nearby warehouses.

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For its First Place project, the Aequitas team, approached this mixed-use building with the aim of designing a Net Zero Energy building with a holistic and integrated approach to sustainability and resilience. Borrowing its architectural language from the nearby industrial area, the building’s primary façade echoes the design of nearby warehouses. (Photo: ASHRAE)

Functional elements that augment the building’s performance and comfort included narrow floorplates for ample daylight and ventilation, a dichotomous façade on the northwest that acts as a sound barrier to adjacent vehicle and train noise, and a diaphanous open façade on the southeast, aimed at maximizing daylight and solar energy captured through a PV integrated window system. Resiliency measures were incorporated, HVAC systems minimized use of fossil fuels and mass timber was utilized as the primary structural system, which at 15 stories made this building one of the tallest mass timber structures in North America.

“Our building integrates occupant comfort, beautiful and functional design, and healthy materials, said Elizabeth LeRiche, team captain. “Residents and neighbors can gather in outdoor green spaces and community gardens, fostering bonds through a shared appreciation of food production and our connection to our collective impact on the environment.”

Second Place (Tie): Team Carbonbusters

A second-place team, “Carbonbusters,” chose an adaptive reuse design strategy restoring a brick power plant that had been abandoned, with a focus on energy efficient construction and locally sourced materials. The project included geothermal wells (1,500 feet in depth) acting as a reliable source of energy for heating and cooling, high-performance glazing to minimizes heat transfer and energy loss, a green roof and public garden and supplemental power production using hydrogen.

Second Place (Tie): Team Parametric Posse Recharged

Also receiving second place, the “Parametric Posse Recharged” team focused on using parametric design tools to strategically enhance the performance of the building type with respect to climate response, energy efficiency, carbon mitigation and occupant well-being. The project included 3D façade providing external shading and aesthetic interest, a high-COP centralized GSHP system to provide hot/chilled water to individual air-handling units in the apartments and restaurant spaces and sky gardens configured to reduce horizontal circulation.

Fan Favorite: Team Carbon Lighters

The fan favorite team, the “Carbon Lighters”, followed a tiered design process on a 41,860 square foot fast food chain drive-thru building. The project included a generous central courtyard configured to open to the East to catch the predominant southeastern summer wind based on Brooklyn climate data, residential units with access on one side and photovoltaics atop a continuous roof canopy.

See complete project overviews and the rest of the winning teams, including team posters on the 2020 ASHRAE LowDown Showdown Modeling Challenge results webpage.

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