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RE: GSBN:Mechanical Systems in Commercial SB building


This sounds like the brother of our neighbor, who runs Straw House

Part of the difficulty (as you probably know) is that the input and formulas
used for sizing mechanical systems are relatively crude, and so doesn't
account very successfully for the integration of insulation, mass and solar
orientations.  We use computer simulations, primarily Energy 10, to model
energy use, and invariably come out with a lower requirement.  This can be
used to persuade the ME to downsize the system.  We've taken the approach
that if the ME is concerned about the system operating efficiently, then he
should take the trouble to understand the actual energy requirements and
size the system appropriately.

A second approach is for the client to simply ask for the most stupid/simple
design that will pass code.  The client can downsize the appliances
according to an understanding of the actual energy requirements of the

Hope this helps,


-----Original Message-----
From: GSBN [mailto:GSBN@...]On Behalf Of Strawnet@...
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 4:24 PM
To: GSBN@...
Subject: Re: GSBN:Mechanical Systems in Commercial SB building

>I have a client who is trying to get his mechanical engineers to understand
>the level of energy efficiency of a bale building, while also attempting to
>help them see the world outside of their small boxes.  He wants to simplify
>his mechanical systems, and they have designed him a cadillac system.  The
>project is a natural food store in Montana and we are looking for examples
>of not-too-complicated systems placed in commercial bale structures.  Can
>anyone help with this one?  Any example projects come to  mind?
>Jeff Ruppert, P.E.


I think the key is to look for a mechanical engineer or consultant who
knows his or her stuff well enough to be able to work with the engineers
your client has already and make the case for the simpler path, not just
to look for good examples of simpler systems (though there are probably
some good ones). I say that because to do this properly you would want to
design the system for the specific building, loads, uses, climate, etc.

Of course they will likely to need to pay for some of such a person's
time, but a few really savvy mechanical engineers come to mind. They
don't need to be totally familiar with sb construction to be able to
properly design a system for such a building. The ones that popped into
mind are Marc Rosenbaum in New Hampshire (Marc.J.Rosenbaum@VALLEY.NET) -
brilliant, amazing, small one-person operation and very busy; Eric
Thompson in Virginia - lots of alternative building and alternative
energy/energy efficiency experience, very clever, fun, and good to work
with; Malcolm Lewis in California - has a somewhat larger firm that does
a lot of commercial and institutional work - very good guy and very solid
technically and otherwise (mlewis@ctg-net.com); and Al Nichols here in
Tucson - a long-standing interest in sb and zero-energy buildings, solar
and much more, lots of experience with a wide range of projects, small
firm, very creative (ALNICHOLS@aol.com).

I know that there are lots of other good people out there but these are
folks I know understand integrated design and appreciate things like sb
for its full range of thermal and other benefits. They also know how to
design elegant systems that are optimized for the project.

Hope that helps.


David Eisenberg, Director
Development Center for Appropriate Technology
P.O. Box 27513, Tucson, AZ  85713
(520) 624-6628 voice / (520) 798-3701 fax

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