Nation’s First LEED Platinum Pool Features HVAC Natatorium Design

Philadelphia’s Kappen Aquatic Center at the Overbrook School for the Blind (OSB) is the nation’s first LEED platinum natatorium. The energy-efficient design saves an estimated 43% of the 25,000-sq-ft facility’s energy costs compared to a conventional natatorium. The majority of the savings comes from off-peak energy loading, architectural building envelope features such as insulated concrete forms and a HVAC dehumidification system that uses heat recovery from its dehumidification cycle to partially-heat/cool the space while also providing free pool water heating to the 75 x 50-foot competition pool and large therapy pool.


heat recovery dehumidifierPhiladelphia’s Kappen Aquatic Center at the Overbrook School for the Blind (OSB) is the nation’s first U.S. Green Building Council LEED platinum natatorium. Ironically, however, the $11 million project for OSB’s 200 visually impaired and handicapped children wasn’t conceived as a LEED project.

Instead, OSB officials had simply requested a green, energy-efficient aquatic facility to replace the campus’ 102-year-old former pool building. Half-way through the project the design team realized their creative green strategy specifications were so effective that enough potential LEED credits had accumulated to qualify for the USGBC’s highest distinction of LEED platinum. “Our original goal was just a very efficient green building, so we were surprised to discover our final design strategies could accumulate 53 credits, which would qualify it as the first LEED platinum natatorium in the country,” said Amie Leighton, AIA, LEED AP, project manager, Daley + Jalboot Architects, Philadelphia.

Besides Daley + Jalboot Architects, other design team members included construction manager, W.S. Cumby, Springfield, Pa.; mechanical engineer, Vinokur-Pace Engineering Services (VPES), Willow Grove, Pa., and LEED consultant, Re:Vision Architecture, Philadelphia.

The energy-efficient design saves an estimated 43% of the 25,000-sq-ft facility’s energy costs compared to a conventional natatorium. The majority of the savings comes from off-peak energy loading, architectural building envelope features such as insulated concrete forms by Nudura Corp., Barrie, Ontario, and a HVAC dehumidification system by Dectron Internationale, Montreal, Quebec, that uses heat recovery from its dehumidification cycle to partially-heat/cool the space while also providing free pool water heating to the 75 x 50-foot competition pool and large therapy pool. Other factors racking up LEED credits were water efficient landscaping, low-flow water-saving fixtures by Sloan Fixtures, Franklin Park, Ill., recycled and local materials, low volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, 77% construction waste recycling, and other features.

The HVAC portion of the design includes energy recovery equipment and fabric ductwork installed by project mechanical contractor Tracey Mechanical, Newtown Square, Pa., and sheet metal contractor, Hays Sheet Metal Co., Pennsauken, N.J. The BAS controlling, which was installed by control contractor, Vortechs Automation, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., was also vital to the overall energy savings.

The DRY-O-TRON model DS-282 by Dectron dehumidifies the space to 50% relative humidity (RH) with its environmentally friendly R-134a dual refrigeration circuits, heats or cools the space, has built-in exhaust, two-inch insulated casing, and uses a hot gas heat recovery method to provide both free air and pool water heating prior to any heat rejection to the outdoor condenser. An estimated 100,000 gal of recovered condensate from the dehumidification process is sanitized and returned to the pool annually as a water conservation strategy. Manufacturer’s representative, Sass, Moore & Associates, Woodbury, N.J., was instrumental as a liaison between the VPES design team’s energy efficiency requests and the Dectron factory’s incorporation of them into the custom-manufactured dehumidifier. 

One of several engineer requests was exhaust energy recovery using the dehumidifier’s glycol Smart Saver passive heat recovery system. The use of glycol as a thermal fluid allows the Smart Saver system to save substantial energy year-round by pre-cooling or pre-heating the outdoor air.

Likewise, the BAS is essential in the building’s energy efficiency. The two-block-long campus’ BAS by KMC Controls, New Paris, Ind., is combined with Genesis32 Automation Suite, a human machine interface (HMI) software by Iconics, Foxborough, Mass. The system inputs set point humidity and temperature to the dehumidifier’s on-board Supervisaire microprocessor that controls and monitors the natatorium’s environmental conditions. The BAS employs a demand control strategy to reduce energy costs, that’s  incentivized with reduced energy rates by PECO, Philadelphia, a utility subsidiary of Exelon Corp., that serves 1.6 million electric and 486,000 natural gas customers in Southeastern Pennsylvania. “Because it’s a school with a residential component, all the buildings aren’t in full use at one time,” said Walter Horigan, president, Vortechs Automation. “Therefore we can limit equipment operation during unoccupied high-peak energy periods and then ramp up to optimum indoor conditions during off-peak hours.”

Many of the project’s contractors, including mechanical contractor Tracey Mechanical, helped contribute to LEED credits because of their Green Advantage certification, an environmental program that certifies contractors in green building techniques and materials. As a result, Tracey Mechanical used low volatile organic compound (VOC) solvents, glues for PVC piping, proper recycling techniques for job waste, and used mechanical equipment manufactured 500 or less miles in proximity to Philadelphia, according to Jim Kohler, Tracey’s Green Advantage certified project manager.    

The locker rooms also received special energy-saving equipment. An enthalpy wheel-equipped energy recovery air handling unit controls the locker room environment. The 4,000-cfm unit has capabilities of pre-heating 11 to 58 F or pre-cooling 93 F dry bulb/75 F wet bulb to 81.7 F dry bulb/68.4 F wet bulb.

Other equipment includes nine 310-Mbh, 93% efficient boilers for domestic hot water from the Ultra Series 2 of Weil-McLain, Michigan City, Ind. All water circulating pumps are manufactured by Bell & Gossett, Morton Grove, Ill.

Because touch and hearing are important to the school’s vision-impaired students, the design team incorporated several non-energy related features. The dehumidifier, for example, was built with the two fan/motor/blower assemblies on springs to isolate any mechanical vibration from the building structure.  

Likewise, mechanical noise is also an issue for blind students. VPES specified a low sound outdoor condenser to run at 560-rpm and a sound pressure rating of 62-dba at 10 feet from the unit, as compared to a conventional unit’s 1,140-rpm and 77-dba. “The condensers were built by Dectron to accommodate the lower rpm’s without affecting cooling capacity,” said Bill Moore, president, Sass, Moore & Associates. 

The specification of fabric duct also complemented noise attenuation efforts. The softness of the fabric versus metal duct reduces mechanical equipment noise reverberation and fabric duct’s nozzle flow strategies tend to produce less airflow sound versus metal duct with registers, according to Leighton. The natatorium’s return grilles as well as registers and diffusers in other parts of the facility are manufactured with special corrosion-resistant metal by Titus, Richardson, Texas.

The architects also accommodated visually-impaired students with window and lighting placements that eliminated glare and direct, high contrasting light conditions. Utilizing tactile floor treatments that help students navigate away from pool edges or obstacles such as walls and handrails is a revolutionary approach for handicapped aquatics.

Tectum, Newark, Ohio, wall panels were also used to suppress noise throughout the facility.

The OBS is an example of a design team that set out to fulfill energy efficiency and green requests, but gave the client much more than it had asked for, LEED platinum.

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safer human-robot collaboration; 2017 Maintenance Survey; Digital Training; Converting your lighting system
IIoT grows up; Six ways to lower IIoT costs; Six mobile safety strategies; 2017 Salary Survey
2016 Top Plant; 2016 Best Practices on manufacturing progress, efficiency, safety
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
What controller fits your application; Permanent magnet motors; Chemical manufacturer tames alarm management; Taking steps in a new direction
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Package boilers; Natural gas infrared heating; Thermal treasure; Standby generation; Natural gas supports green efforts

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
This article collection contains several articles on creating and enhancing a safe workplace in manufacturing.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
click me