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Water Savings and Eliminating Unsightly Plume for Large Office Building

Designed to conserve natural resources

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) was hired as the consultant for this project, 1515 West Webster Avenue located near Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, providing architecture, MEP, structural and civil engineering services. Targeting LEED® Gold certification and incorporating low-cost high-efficiency materials, SOM designed the HVAC system with Güntner’s Adiabatic Cooling System (ACS) to reduce water consumption while maintaining an efficient cooling system. At peak ambient temperature, the air entering the finned heat exchanger is pre-cooled by wetted cooling pads to a temperature approaching the wet bulb temperature, without aerosol formation and without applying water to the finned surface. The pre-cooling process maintains the required leaving fluid temperature at peak ambient conditions. Additionally, the Adiabatic Cooling System incorporates intelligent controls that regulate water flow based on ambient and process conditions further minimizing water consumption.

SOM, through their due diligence, reviewed several possible solutions for heat rejection component of the HVAC system. An analysis of water and energy use comparing the Adiabatic Cooling System to an evaporative cooled unit indicated a significant water savings and lower annual operating costs for the adiabatic solution. The adiabatic cooler provides a 47% savings annually in the cost of electricity and water; and, perhaps more importantly, an 87% water use savings. Chart 1 depicts the cumulative resource (water and electricity) consumption of the adiabatic cooler based on weather bin data. Note the wet hours are limited to only the warmest hours. The evaporative unit consumes about 2.7 million gallons of water annually. The ACS in contrast consumes a fraction of that at about 341,000 gallons annually.

Designed for pleasing aesthetics

In addition to the water and operating cost saving the Adiabatic Cooling System provides an aesthetically pleasing solution that does not generate water vapor plume. When the saturated discharge air from evaporative cooled equipment mixes with cold ambient air the moisture in the air can condensate forming a visible cloud or fog. This visible plume seen emanating from the evaporative cooled equipment can be confused for smoke and is otherwise deemed unsightly. The Adiabatic Cooling System by contrast does not utilize water during the cold ambient times and hence no plume is generated.

The SOM design of the HVAC system for this project incorporating Güntner’s Adiabatic Cooling System with hydroBLU provides the building owner with a solution that conserve natural resources while minimizing winterization concerns such as unsightly plume.

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