Case Study: Consulting Engineering

Artist Village Residence Hall

University of North CarolinaWinston Salem, North Carolina

A Community-Focused, Sustainable Residence Hall

Artist Village, the newest residence hall at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, is a five-story, 115,000 square foot building comprised of two wings with a connecting bridge. Designed to foster community and provide a comfortable living space for students, the hall offers 450 beds, multiple gaming areas, communal kitchens, lounge spaces, study areas on each floor, and a central laundry facility. By considering the facility's HVAC system in relation to the overall budget framework, we were able to successfully deliver a residence space that was cost-effective, energy-efficient, sustainable, and easy to maintain.

The Challenges

  • Design a high-performance residence hall on budget
  • Balance energy efficiency and occupant health and wellness goals
  • Maximize all available space while prioritizing systems easy to operate and service
  • Reduce the building's operational carbon footprint
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Our mission of training the most talented artists...requires a substantial investment in the facilities that enable our faculty to prepare students for the real world. Our new residence hall will be transformational for our campus community and help us attract and retain talented student-artists. Created with Sketch.

Michael Smith

UNC Vice President for Finance and Administration

The Solutions

The University of North Carolina aimed to create a high-performance residence hall that balanced a number of goals, including a community-focused design, occupant health and wellness, and energy efficient building systems that could be easily serviced. CMTA led the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering design, as well as the technology, security, and communications designs for the new facility.

To create a high-performance, healthy facility that stayed on budget, our team worked to align the various goals of project stakeholders. While the maintenance department wanted to select a system that was easy to operate and service, the university aimed to maximize every inch of the residence hall’s available space. During the project kick-off charrette, the team discussed HVAC system selection, building envelope, energy recovery strategies, plug loads, and water conservation. After conducting a life cycle cost analysis to evaluate energy savings, the HVAC systems selected were water source heat pumps and rooftop DX heat pump Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) with an enthalpy energy recovery wheel. The maintenance department agreed to the solution of vertical heat pumps, which can be serviced approximately four feet above the finished floor in the common area between the residence rooms. This solution allows residents to maintain privacy because maintenance no longer needs to enter individual rooms to service HVAC equipment.

When compared to a 4-pipe fan coil system, the life cycle cost analysis showed that this system would result in a 10 EUI energy reduction per year, as well as a $700,000 25-year life cost savings. Additionally, isolation dampers on each floor allow the university to limit ventilation during limited summer occupancy, further reducing energy costs. The ventilation is dehumidified and supplied directly to the space. Conditioned air from the residence room is transferred to the restroom and exhausted through the DOAS to maximize the effectiveness of the energy recovery wheel.

Based on recent studies, occupants feel more rested with a higher mental state in well-ventilated rooms due to higher sleep efficiency. Therefore, as the residence hall is meant to provide a comfortable and academically supportive space for students, our team prioritized occupant health and wellness in the facility’s ventilation design. Ventilation is provided directly to each space from the DOAS unit. The unit, which includes MERV 13 filters, provides constant dehumidified 72° air, delivered 24/7. The ventilation rate of CFM in double occupancy rooms and 25 CFM in single occupancy rooms exceeds the code required airflow to achieve

Space-Saving MicroFridges

Needing to maximize the building’s usable square footage, the design team decided to locate the heat pump in the dead space above the MicroFridge. This strategy saved 700 square feet of space for HVAC equipment and prompted the university to purchase an ENERGY STAR MicroFridge for each suite. MicroFridges reduce the electrical demand by cycling off the refrigerator compressor when operating microwaves.

However, more importantly, incorporating a MicroFridge in each suite means that residents will not need to purchase and dispose of 143 refrigerators and microwaves annually. This equates to approximately 14 pounds of refrigerant waste eliminated! Overall, the synergy between the heat pump’s location and the university-provided MicroFridge reduces energy, refrigerant, landfill waste, material transport, and overall costs associated with residence life.

The Results

To ensure the facility’s building systems were implemented and optimized according to design, CMTA was also retained to provide the Fundamental and Enhanced Commissioning of the building energy systems from the design development phase through the one-year warranty phase. Currently, Artist Village is performing at 41.6 EUI, with a total utility cost of $93,050. In comparison, the AIA 2030 baseline for a residence hall of the same size performs at 76 EUI and costs $147,500. The project’s drastic energy reduction allows the facility to reduce its operational carbon footprint, as well.

CMTA was proud to partner with UNC to provide School of the Arts students with a community-focused, high performance, and sustainable residence facility.

Artist Village Energy Use