Green Amherst

Mechanical Systems

Central Utilities Site Plan

Mechanical and lighting systems consume the majority of energy used by buildings. Dependence on fossil fuels cannot be reduced without optimizing heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC), hot water, process utilities, controls and energy management systems. The first step in HVAC system design is to reduce heating and cooling loads and to determine to what extent a new building can run on sunlight or meet occupant needs in a passive manner. Having minimized the need for mechanical systems, life-cycle analysis can help decide the appropriate systems for a building. Certain types of campus facilities, such as laboratory buildings with substantial ventilation requirements, deserve special attention in design. Opportunities for heat recovery and distributed generation are taken into consideration.

The College uses a variety of methods to ensure an integrated approach to mechanical systems design for optimal energy efficiency and indoor air quality:

  • Separately zoned systems to serve areas with different users
  • Programming HVAC for different modes according to whether spaces are occupied or unoccupied
  • Computer server rooms on separate systems to accommodate constant cooling needs
  • Distributed air-handling mechanical rooms to reduce the size and complexity of ductwork systems
  • Use of heat-recovery systems
  • Use of state-of-the-art computers to control operation of systems
  • Use of central systems
  • Use of premium efficiency motors to drive pumps and fans and variable-frequency drives to control pump and fan speed