In this week’s DJC, I’ve got a story on the replacement of a school in Kirkland called Finn Hill Junior High that has a number of interesting elements to it.
First, the project will have a 400-kilowatt photovoltaic system that will produce almost half of the school’s energy. Second, the school is “net zero energy ready,” meaning it could produce all its own
Oftentimes when little things go wrong on a project, nobody notices. The benefit of a post occupant study is that it looks at how a building performs once it is actually in use, allowing the team to go back and fix any problems that may have come up. Unfortunately, post occupancy studies are not always (or often in some cases) required on projects. Meaning something tiny – the wrong setting or a switch that was never flipped – can waste energy for years. It can also be unclear who pays for post occupancy studies, though many firms in the Seattle area are using them more and more.
But most firms won’t tell you when something’s gone wrong. However Mahlum has spoken publicly about failures a previous project – Benjamin Franklin Elementary – had meeting its energy goals. The failures were fixed but the really cool thing is that the firm is willing to talk about what it did wrong
Anjali Grant, project manager with Mahlum, said the school lost a lot of heat at Ben Franklin through its ventilation system. At Finn Hill, heat recovery units will capture heat in the ventilation system. There will be a mixed-mode system, allowing it to be naturally cooled when it is warm out and mechanically ventilated when it is cold to preserve heat.
It will do a post occupancy study of Finn Hill about a year after it has been occupied. “I think its really important to go back and check out the numbers after a project is done and occupied, otherwise you don’t really know anything. It’s really a good value for everybody,” Grant said.
For the new year, I wish other firms would tell you, easily and simply, what they’ve done wrong and what they’ve done right. A tough wish I know but like Grant says, it’s a good value for everybody. Feel free to email me at email@example.com or comment here if want to share your Seattle area experiences.