RTM Engineering Consultants is working with OKW Architects in the design for the Abe and Ida Cooper Center located in Chicago, IL. RTM provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection design for the 18,500-square-foot family services facility that will feature an indoor play area for children; offices for therapists and other qualified personnel; classrooms; and additional staff and support spaces, such as pantries, lounge areas, and storage areas. To streamline the construction process and provide in-depth coordination of all of the ductwork, pipework and equipment, RTM used Revit to create 3-D models of the MEP/FP systems for the building.
As a nonprofit and potential LEED Gold project, the Abe and Ida Cooper Center is eligible for funding from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation, which offers several grant opportunities for designs that achieve a significant increase in energy efficiency when compared to a baseline system, utilize renewable sources as a means of building energy supply, and are built in a sustainable manner. RTM’s MEP design addresses the following grants:
- Innovative HVAC: By implementing an innovative HVAC system, the project is eligible to achieve one third of the cost difference between the innovative system and the standard Illinois code minimum system for this type of application. RTM’s design involved a VRF (variable refrigerant flow ) system, which meets the foundation’s requirements for an innovative system. To help obtain the funding, the team produced an energy model showing that the new VRF system is 20 percent more efficient than the baseline system as defined by the current energy code.
- Design and Commissioning: To achieve the $75,000 funding under this grant as a LEED Gold project, the design must meet minimum energy performance requirements per the USGBC and exceed the Illinois Energy Code requirements. A commissioning plan also must be provided. RTM worked with a commissioning consultant to create and implement this plan.
- Renewable Energy: If the project utilizes renewable energy to provide a minimum of 9 percent of the total building energy usage, then funding under this grant can be obtained. RTM’s design included the use of PV panels as a renewable energy source to provide electricity for the building. Depending on the LEED certification level achieved, the grant could be for up to $125,000.
This funding is predicated on the building achieving LEED Gold. To attain this certification, RTM had to implement several design measures in conjunction with the aforementioned renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements. These measures included:
- A significant reduction in the building’s water usage
- Providing lighting controls to maximize daylight in the building
- Providing temperature controls in each zone so as to maximize individual heating and cooling control
- Providing systems and equipment that will track the building’s energy use so that any building inefficiencies can be identified and corrected
In addition to the complexities of designing to LEED Gold standards, RTM faced several challenges in terms of designing the MEP systems to the outlined criteria while staying within the client’s budget. Such challenges included minimizing the amount of ductwork while maintaining the acoustical isolation of the office spaces.
RTM is working carefully with the client to provide inventive solutions so the project meets the needs of the facility, stays within budget and is on track to achieve LEED Gold status.
Image © OKW Architects.