BIG PICTURE THINKING. PRACTICAL APPROACH. SUSTAINABLE DESIGN.
Maine Township High School District 207 to Receive $260,270 in Utility Incentives for Central Plant Upgrades

As a result of Elara’s design to replace and upgrade the existing central plants serving Maine South High School and Maine West High School, Maine Township High School District 207 has been approved to receive $260,270 in incentive funding due to the demonstrated energy efficiency of the new central plants.

Through the initial stages of a master plan for the entire School District, Elara identified the opportunity to convert the existing inefficient heating system serving Maine West High School from low pressure steam to hot water heating fed by a high-efficiency condensing hot water boiler plant and to install a new dedicated domestic hot water and pool heating plant. This work included replacement of the existing steam absorption chillers with new high-efficiency electric chillers, upgrade of ten air handling units, and the elimination of nine heat exchangers.

Elara similarly identified the opportunity to replace the existing high temperature/high-pressure hot water boiler plant at Maine South with a new high-efficiency condensing boiler heating plant and to install new dedicated domestic hot water and pool heating plant. This work included the elimination of ten heat exchangers and the consolidation of the space heating boiler plants.  Also as part of the central plant upgrade project, new state-of-the-art direct digital control building automation systems were also installed to replace existing pneumatic controls at both high schools.

Additional benefits of Elara’s central plant upgrade design include replacing aged equipment in need of repair with new higher efficiency equipment with lower operating costs, reducing maintenance through the elimination of equipment, and improving comfort through state-of-the-art controls. The projects were completed on-time and under budget with $260,270 ($159,639 for natural gas; $100,631 for electric) in incentive funding approved through local utility companies.

Elara Designs Geothermal Heating & Cooling System for Eastland Elementary School

As part of its heating and ventilation system evaluation for Eastland Elementary School for Community Unified School District (CUSD) 308 in Lanark, Illinois, together with Richard L. Johnson Associates Architects, Elara recommended improvements to the school’s existing HVAC system to address aging equipment, increase energy efficiency, and enhance occupant comfort.  One improvement strategy included the design and installation of a Geothermal Heat Pump System for centralized space heating and cooling for the building.

The geothermal system designed by Elara was installed for an incremental cost of less than 10% of that to install a conventional heating and cooling system. Additionally, this environmentally-friendly approach is more energy efficient and eliminates future costs to replace central boiler and chiller plants approximately every 20 years.  The system’s geothermal field, with its 36, 450-foot deep vertical wells is anticipated to last at least 50 years, with heat pump equipment replaced according to a traditional schedule.

For the system installation, a single pipe geothermal condenser water loop was utilized to serve the classroom heat pumps and to save material and labor costs of pipes routed through an existing utility tunnel.  Elara also re-used two existing mezzanines above the gymnasium’s stage area to house new heat pump air handling equipment.  Once Elara unified the HVAC systems for the building (which were previously disjointed due to numerous renovations and additions), a new direct digital control system was installed to maximize controllability and energy savings associated with the operation of the new equipment.

Elara Client Awarded $100,000 Solar Array Grant

In collaboration with Indian Trails Public Library (ITPL) , Elara Engineering completed and submitted an EBSCO Industries, Inc. (EBSCO) Solar grant application to offset the installation costs of a solar panel array to further reduce the Library’s annual electricity expenditures.  EBSCO received 90 submissions from 15 countries for the 2017 grant.

Elara’s energy modeling experts provided the following information and data for the grant application submittal:

  • Computation of solar accommodating roof area according to calculated shade lengths of existing roof elements during winter solstice.
  • Modeling and computation of panel inclination angle of highest photovoltaic efficiency.
  • Modeling of solar building performance, including thermal imaging of building exterior and solar inclination angles.
  • Comprehensive schematic descriptions of sustainability projects already completed for the Library:Geothermal Heating and Cooling
    • Energy Recovering Dedicated Outdoor Air Handling Units
    • Variable Air Volume Terminals with Demand (occupancy sensing) Control and Automation
    • LED Efficient Lighting
    • Conversion of backup generators to natural gas.
  • Review of local roofing and electrical building code requirements

Congratulations to Indian Trails Public Library for its ongoing dedication to environmental sustainability, including its strong commitment to the use of renewable energy sources.

Elara's Enhanced Commissioning Supports LEED Gold Designation of State-of-the-Art Research Facility

With LEED Enhanced Commissioning services and expertise, Elara successfully secured valuable points to ensure a highly desired LEED Gold designation for Loyola University's newly constructed Center for Transitional Research and Education facility (CTRE).  The highly specialized, highly complex 5-story state-of-the-art research facility required an extreme level of systems redundancy and continuous mechanical system service to ensure uninterrupted medical research.  To serve a wide range of space uses, the building included multiple sophisticated mechanical systems; including, emergency chilled water fed from the University's Health Science Campus and over 650 air terminal units.

Through coordinated commissioning activities that included comprehensive functional testing, the identification of control sequencing modifications and reliability enhancements -- considered to be of critical importance for lab space performance, and black out testing to verify emergency power functionality and emergency sequences for MEP systems throughout the building, Elara delivered a highly efficient building system with complete functionality.

Renovated Building and New Addition Uses 40-50% Less Energy

Elara Engineering recently completed a mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection design for the renovation and expansion of Indian Trails Public Library in Wheeling, Illinois that is projected to result in a 40-50% reduction in energy use relative to other, typical library buildings.  This sustained benefit was primarily derived from the innovative use of a geothermal heat pump heating and cooling system combined with energy efficient building materials and features.

The design team’s work addressed several issues impacting the original two-story building, including; substantial energy costs, poor indoor air quality, and outdated mechanical equipment.  To correct this, the design team:

  • Designed a new energy efficient mechanical system (geothermal heating/cooling heat pumps that generate hot and chilled water to serve fan coil units and VAV boxes within the occupied spaces) and digital controls for the new and renovated spaces
  • Developed new power, lighting and emergency/egress lighting systems to support the new and renovated spaces
  • Modified and expanded the existing fire alarm, plumbing and fire protection systems for the new and renovated spaces.
Elara Engineering Procures $164,685 in Incentive Funding for Chicago Client

Identified in a Master Plan that Elara had developed for the owners of “The Fields” building at 4000 West Diversey Avenue in Chicago, Elara’s engineering team conceptualized and designed a demand controlled ventilation (DCV) system that provided $164,685 in incentive funding with an estimated $157,000 in annual energy cost savings.

The DCV system for the 700-space indoor parking garage supports the conversion of the former Marshall Field & Company warehouse into a multi-use facility that includes high-tech loft live/work apartments, a grocery store, and loft style office spaces.  This work, along with Elara’s specifications for new burner controls including linkage-less high-turndown burner retrofits for the building’s existing primary steam boiler, greatly improved energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and overall system reliability.

Elara Engineering Contributes to Successful Highland Park HS & Deerfield HS Renovation Project

“We could not have done this without a solid team.  Many thanks to the Gilbane, Elara, Perkins + Will and all the contractors that worked on this project!!” 

Daniel Mortensen, CPMM
Director of Facilities Management
Township High School District 113

In a recent article in the Daily North Shore highlighting the work at the District’s Highland Park High School, Mr. Mortensen indicated that the most challenging part of the effort was the multi-year phasing of the project.  “We wanted to ensure that the construction activities would not have a negative impact on the learning environment over the four years of ongoing construction.”  He further stated that the four-year project is ahead of schedule. The project was initially targeted for completion in August of 2018. “The project is not closed out yet, but we are currently under budget and we’re anticipating it being 100 percent complete in August of 2017.”

Additional details about the Highland Park High School renovation project can be found in the Daily North Shore article at (https://jwcdaily.com/2017/03/13/hphs-unveils-21st-century-learning-renovations/).

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