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ASHRAE’s new headquarters walks the talk about net-zero energy

The conversion of a 1970s’-era building demonstrates how older structures can be made more efficient and sustainable.

March 23, 2021 |
ASHRAE's new global headquarters

ASHRAE's new headquarters in Atlanta transforms a 1970s-era structure into a net-zero-energy office facility. Images: Jonathan Hillyer Photography

This month, ASHRAE’s new global headquarters became fully net-zero energy upon the installation of its photovoltaic system.

This 66,700-sf, three-story building, which previously housed an information management company Recall, was originally built in 1978. It’s located in Peachtree Corners, Ga., along Atlanta’s Technology Parkway corridor, and 10 miles from ASHRAE’s previous headquarters. The building’s transformation, which began in January 2020, is “a living showcase of what’s possible,” said Charles Gulledge III, PE, ASHRAE’s 2020-2021 President.  It might also serve as proof that net-zero energy can be more than an aspiration for existing buildings.

The renovation and retrofit used innovative technologies and sustainable materials to reduce energy use, water consumption, and the building’s carbon footprint. Skanska, the project’s Construction Manager at Risk, completed the renovation during the coronavirus pandemic without having to shut down. ASHRAE’s 110-person staff started moving into the building last October.

The net-zero-energy ready design exceeds ASHRAE’s own energy and indoor standards. (Even before the COVID pandemic, ASHRAE had planned to provide 30% more outside air to the renovated building than the required minimum ventilation rates from its own Standard 62.1.) The design targets LEED and International Living Future Institute zero energy certifications.

THE TECHNICAL BELLS AND WHISTLES

ASHRAE's headquarters is distinguished by a radiant ceiling panel system (above) and formidable mechanical room that includes four heat pumps.

 

The new headquarters’ technical features include:

•A radiant ceiling panel system for heating and cooling, and a dedicated outdoor air system to enhance ventilation via overhead fresh-air distribution

•Six water-source heat pumps

•Demand-control ventilation for high-occupancy spaces

•Modeling Energy Use Intensity of 17 kBTU/sf/year

•On-site electric vehicle charging stations

•18 skylights and a reconfigured window/wall ratio, which at the work plane is 79.9%.

There are 18 skylights in the building (above), and dashboards throughout that relay information about the building's performance.

Among the headquarters’ digitally connected solutions are remote monitoring and analysis of building performance via online dashboarding, and an advanced Building Automation System that’s’ integrated with other systems. Advanced conferencing is designed to serve as a “digital lighting” teaching resource.

To help fund this $20 million project, ASHRAE raised $9.7 million from 31 corporate donors, which included gifts of equipment and services. ASHRAE members donated more than $500,000.

The project’s design team included McLennan Design, Houser Walker Architecture, and Integral Group. Collins Project Management managed the renovation, and Epsten Group was the Commissioning Agent.

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