First-place teams in this year’s ASHRAE Student Design Competition tackled everything from BIM to geothermal heating and cooling.

Students worked on a mock design of the Ginsburg Tower at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Fla. This structure, the tallest hospital building in the state, is a 15-story patient tower that contains the Florida Hospital Cardiovascular Institute, 440 patient beds and one of the largest emergency departments in the country. Among the 31 entries from around the world, three in particular stood out as first-place winners in the three categories that the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers-sponsored competition offers.

First place in the HVAC system design category was awarded to Nathaniel Boyd, Michael Angell, Justin Wiese, Edward Gillett and Trong Duc Nguyen, all from the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, Fla. Their faculty adviser is Marcel Ilie, Ph.D.

After constructing a complete building information model, the students chose a constant volume air-handling unit as the primary air source and latent load control, and on-site combined cooling, heating and power plant based on a bank of micro-turbines fueled by natural gas.

These HVAC systems are known to eliminate some infections via proper ventilation directional control and would provide uninterrupted HVAC service to hospital occupants, even during natural disasters, as well as reduction of environmental and economic impact of the HVAC design, according to the students.

First place in the HVAC system selection category was awarded to Matt Kolins, Joel Wheeler, Nicole Vogt, Jared Palan, Todd Kuno and Zac Buckmiller of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. Their faculty advisers are Fred Hasler, P.E., and Julia Keen, P.E.

The students selected a combination of air-handling units with patient room heat pumps, chillers and cooling towers and shell-and-tube heat exchangers. Additionally, a geothermal loop installed in Lake Estelle, adjacent to the hospital, acts as a heat sink. Not only is the system environmentally conscious, but also has the best return on investment, students said.

First place in integrated sustainable building design was awarded to Ryland Phelps, Carolyn Lamb and Amy Rose Keyzer of Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich. Their faculty advisers are Daniel Faoro and Janice Means.

The students’ goal was to design a sustainable and energy-efficient building without sacrificing visual appeal, while responding to climate conditions and surrounding buildings and forms.

They were able to achieve this by using water reducing fixtures in all bathrooms, supplying alternative energy through photovoltaic panels and architectural fabric, using geothermal wells and evacuated tubes to reduce loads on mechanical equipment and implementing a daylighting system to reduce lighting loads and bring daylight into the building.

The first place teams will be given 10 to 15 minutes to present their projects at ASHRAE’s Jan. 29-Feb. 2 winter meeting in Las Vegas.