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ASHRAE LowDown Showdown Challenge teams aim for net zero

Five teams competed to design and model a near net-zero energy building on an existing 43,942 Atlanta square foot office and warehouse during ASHRAE’s third annual LowDown Showdown Modeling Competition.

The LowDown Showdown was held in conjunction with the 2017 ASHRAE Building Performance Analysis Conference, this Sept. in Atlanta. More than 250 people attended the conference, with speakers presenting practical applications of tools, case studies and papers on simulation, research and a deeper dive into current technology.

The competition engages architects, engineers, designers and energy modelers by working on integrated teams in the creation of effective workflow and outstanding design in real-word building efficiency challenges.

“The inspiration for this year’s competition challenge was born from a real-life work project,” says Annie Marston, competition committee chair. “These challenges happen all the time, so you really have to go through the documentation to see what’s going on,” she said.

Sustainability Savants won first place and fan favorite for their strategy to reduce loads in collections spaces, with the goal of enabling the supply of required ventilation air. The team concluded that the air system, with its large supply volume and high static pressure, was the primary source of energy usage, between fan energy and space conditioning.

“Spoiler, we didn’t quite get to net zero energy,” says James Cullin, Associate Member ASHRAE and Sustainability Savants team member. “We all had our parts to play. The sharing of knowledge is the big thing. That’s why we’re here.”
Other teams presenting their results at the conference included:

  • The Sandstorm Stoppers – The team analyzed the existing building’s energy consumption in respect to its location, size, typology, and HVAC system. Their strategy was to evaluate maximum possible energy generation from PV panel and then work from top to bottom to reduce energy consumption.
  • The Nothin’ but Net Zero – The team focused on trying to come up with a proposal that a real building owner might reasonably consider. They utilized technologies and solutions that are readily available, cost effective, and easy to apply to an existing building.
  • Team Re+Ro’s – In this retrofitting project, the team’s strategy was to address modeling and calibration. They found ways to reduce infiltration in the office building and use a ground source heat pump to reduce infiltrations in the storage building.

Teams were evaluated in six categories: energy, teamwork, practicality, creativity, calibration and presentation. Prizes were awarded for the top three teams and conference attendees voted electronically for the fan favorite. The results were announced at a reception during the conference. See complete project overviews, including team posters on the 2017 ASHRAE LowDown Showdown Modeling Challenge results webpage.

The next ASHRAE LowDown Showdown Competition will take place at the 2018 Building Performance Analysis Conference and SimBuild co-organized by ASHRAE and IBPSA-USA in Chicago.