Building Statistics Part 1

General Building Data
123 Alpha Drive is a joint office and warehouse building located east of the city of Pittsburgh. Nestled in an industrial park that houses many corporate headquarters and similar office buildings, the single story, 77,000 square foot building is designed to accommodate a variety of administrative offices, along with providing dry storage to multiple potential clients. Several dry labs will exist within the building to service the occupant’s energy experiments and investigations THAR geothermal/ THAR energy elected to place their corporate headquarters within the building in 2012, and currently own the property. The occupancy of 123 Alpha Drive is expected to be about 80 individuals. Construction began in the spring of 2011, and reached completion in the summer of 2012.
Desmone & Associates Architects, an architecture firm based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been handed the task of designing the building. Iams Consulting, an MEP firm in Pittsburgh, will provide all mechanical , electrical, and plumbing services to the building. THAR Geothermal/ THAR energy, the owners of the new building, have expressed interest in designing a building that promotes green technologies through ambitious and unique mechanical system implementation. This project has been billed as a design-build project delivery method. The cost of this project has been elected to be withheld at the request of the owner.

123 Alpha Drive is to be used as a multipurpose building, providing corporate offices, dry lab space, and large dry storage areas for products and shipments. The majority of the office space lies on the southeast end of the building, and the remainder of the offices reside in the middle. Several conference rooms have been integrated with the office space, and tend to be located along the southeast wall. Nearly 21,000 square feet (26%) of the building will be office space, while the remainder will be divided into separate storage areas. The storage rooms range from 21,000 square feet to 6,600 square feet, and surround the central office buildings. In the northwest section of the building, a 1700 square feet loading and receiving dock exists to service an 8,700 square foot staging area. Four small dry labs have been added to the office area, and will serve to house geothermal and superfluid technologies experiments. Construction and design will follow IBC 2009, NEC 2011, ASHRAE Standard 62.1, and several other major national codes, which require confirmation from Desmone&Associates, Iams Consulting, and other applicable parties. 123 Alpha Drive, along with the rest of the industrial park, falls under the C (Commercial District) zoning restriction. No historical requirements or considerations were needed during the time of construction and design.

Building Enclosure
The exterior walls of 123 Alpha Drive are made up of a composition of 12” concrete masonry units, 2” rigid insulation, 1 5/8” studs, 5/8” gypsum wall board, and an FRP finish on the interior side of the wall. A series of glass windows line the office space areas of the building, and the glass will have a SHGC of .558. For the warehouse and storage spaces, window glazing is still provided, and will have an important impact on the building envelope. Each warehouse storage area has its own shipment drop off area provided with a door by Overhead Door, which will affect the heating/cooling energy requirements and the building envelope.  A flat, EDPM roofing will cover the top of the structure. The roof is comprised of an aluminum gutter system, 6” metal stud framing, batt insulation, rigid insulation, 5/8” exterior plywood, and an EPDM room membrane to serve as roofing. The membrane is intended to extend under the coping.

Sustainability Features
The building utilizes a geothermal well system, which will be used for the make-up air handling unit, the primary air handling unit, and the laboratory exhaust fan. Although not confirmed at this stage of development, carbon dioxide may be used as the geothermal fluid for the mechanical systems. The primary spaces of the building will feature a variable air volume (VAV) system, which will allow for a more efficient use of the available heating and cooling loads. A make-up air handling unit will service the laboratory space, as a significant amount of exhaust must be removed from those spaces. The roof will have an R-value of 30, while the walls will have an R-value of 19.

Building Statistics Part 2

123 Alpha Drive is ventilated using six small rooftop units (RTUs) and ten large horizontal air handling units. Four of the six rooftop units are existing to remain, but the newly installed RTU’s have been selected in order to incorporate an outside air carbon dioxide preconditioned heating and cooling cycle, a technique utilized in the airline business. The liquid CO2 preconditioning coil will be located in the outside air stream of the two units. The goal of this preconditioning is to achieve a lower ‘delta T’ at the final cooling and heating coils, saving considerable energy throughout the unit’s lifetime. Equipped with a full economizer each, the RTUs will provide efficient ventilation in the building, along with a considerable reduction in energy consumption. The units utilize gas heating and electric cooling. The following figure shows which air handling units and rooftop units service different areas of the building.

Lab and Contaminant Exhaust
Various warehouse and dry lab spaces within the building require lab air and contaminant exhaust. Ten small down-blast, roof-mounted exhaust fans with motorized dampers were installed to handle the exhaust air requirements. The air will be replenished by a 4-ton, existing to remain, make-up rooftop unit.

Radiant Floor Slab Cooling and Heating
In addition to the rooftop units supplying fresh air to the office and lab spaces, a hydronic radiant floor cooling and heating system has been implemented through “dry installation”, in which the tubing is attached under the finished floor or subfloor. Utilizing an efficient fluid such as liquid carbon dioxide, the radiant floor slabs achieve a more efficient heating and cooling process than a ducted system, as no duct losses exist in a radiant system. A standard gas boiler is used as an energy source to heat the liquid within the tubes. Condensation is a considerable concern with radiant floor cooling, and will be explored throughout the course of this study.

The building is serviced by a 500kVA medium voltage transformer. The building runs off an existing 120/208V Y 3 phase secondary system, as well as an existing 240V Delta 3 phase secondary system. A 208V existing utility transformer, and an existing 240V utility transformer share a concrete pad on the north side of the building. An existing to remain switchgear serves the building, although the specific electrical load is unknown at the current time. The renovation of 123 Alpha Drive includes a new 1200A 240V power panel and a 600A 460V power panel, with the appropriate 240V/460V transformer between the two. Two motor control centers (400A and 225A) are also to be added to the 460V line.

The lighting within the building runs on 120V. The variety of fixtures includes several fluorescent downlight, fluorescent pendant, fluorescent lay-in troffer, and LED lamps. Occupancy sensors have been included in each corridor, office, and restroom in the building. Proper emergency lighting was installed in the large warehouse areas, office corridors, and dry labs. Emergency exit signs are located throughout the building as per code.

123 Alpha Drive has an exterior façade consisting of concrete masonry units. The large warehouse areas, which encompass up to 8000 square feet, have steel columns that support the weight of the building. The rest of the building, however, utilizes concrete masonry columns. This is advantageous because 123 Alpha Drive is a one story building, and the benefits of steel design are not as significant in low-rise buildings. The exterior glazing of the building is not significant enough to warrant a specific structural solution or modification. Metal stud, asphalt roofing was installed in the existing building, and to remain.

Construction for the THAR Corporate Office renovation began in the spring of 2011, and reached completion in the summer of 2012. The project used a design-bid-build delivery method. The cost of the project has been disclosed at the request of the owner.


123 Alpha Drive

Pittsburgh, PA











Note: While great efforts have been taken to provide accurate and complete information on the pages of CPEP, please be aware that the information contained herewith is considered a work‐in-progress for this thesis project. Modifications and changes related to the original building designs and construction methodologies for this senior thesis project are solely the interpretation of Alexander Radkoff. Changes and discrepancies in no way imply that the original design contained errors or was flawed. Differing assumptions, code references, requirements, and methodologies have been incorporated into this thesis project; therefore, investigation results may vary from the original design.
This page was last updated 4/25/14, by Alexander and is hosted by the AE Department© 2013


8.25.13 Owner Permission Obtained
9.5.13 CPEP Site Launched
9.15.13 Student Biography Posted
10.8.13 Tech Assignment 1 Posted
10.23.13 Tech Assignment 2 Posted
12.6.13 Tech Assignment 3 Posted
1.16.14 Thesis Proposal
4.02.14 Draft Presentation
4.09.14 Final Report
4.14.14 Final Presentation
4.25.14 Reflection