Lorton Volunteer Fire Station, Lemay Erickson Willcox Architects

Lorton Volunteer Fire Station, Lemay Erickson Willcox Architects, Reston, VA.

Brinjac Engineering used Sefaira Systems to improve communication with the architect and the client, resulting in an optimized building envelope and mechanical systems — all without compromising the project schedule or budget. Here’s how they did it.

The Challenge:

Brinjac Engineering was approached about working on two Fire Stations in Fairfax County, Virginia. The RFP required substantial analysis during the Schematic Design phase, including energy simulation, exploration of envelope-related energy efficiency measures, and life cycle cost analysis. Sefaira Systems not only facilitated Brinjac’s delivery of these requirements quickly and on budget, it also enabled Brinjac to work closely with the architects and the client throughout the process.

“A conventional solution would have had us use a significant portion of our fee in the first phase,” said Philip Wright, who led both project teams at Brinjac. “Sefaira Systems allowed us to deliver on the RFP requirements quickly and cost-effectively.”

Jefferson Fire Stations, Hughes Group Architects

Jefferson Fire Stations, Hughes Group Architects, Sterling, VA

Envelope Optimization: Discovering What Not to Do

Sefaira Systems’ real-time analysis capabilities allowed Brinjac to study envelope optimization scenarios live with the architect, with the aim of finding the most cost-effective strategies for reducing the building’s energy use (and associated energy costs). Because the project began with an ASHRAE 90.1-2010 baseline, which was already quite efficient in terms of the building envelope, the team discovered that many traditional energy efficiency strategies yielded minimal savings, and were ultimately not a good investment. For example, early analysis showed that going beyond an R-40 roof resulted in marginal energy savings, and that the money would be better spent on improved lighting or more efficient mechanical systems. These results allowed the team to avoid costly investments that would have provided little value to the client, and instead prioritize the strategies that offered the biggest savings.

“It was a case of discovering that we didn’t have to go much beyond code on the envelope,” said Wright. “So we could avoid spending a huge amount of money on unnecessary measures, like adding projections over the windows.”

The result is in an anticipated 20% reduction in energy use from the baseline.

Baseline energy results from the Jefferson Fire Station

Baseline energy results from the Jefferson Fire Station show the significance of internal loads

Studying Mechanical System Options in Real-Time

Brinjac also used Sefaira Systems live with the client (in this case, representatives from Fairfax County Government) to explore the impact of various mechanical system options: for instance, comparing a VAV rooftop unit, a constant volume RTU, and a VRF system. The results — in particular, the feedback on energy efficiency and energy costs — were key inputs to the discussion, and allowed the team to come to a decision quickly.

“We could quickly modify the analysis to match the County’s typical setpoints, operations, and other parameters, and could see the impact on utility costs immediately,” said Wright. “This increased confidence in the analysis, and helped everyone align on the benefits of different solutions.”

Comparison of mechanical system options for the Lorton Volunteer Fire Station

Comparison of mechanical system options for the Lorton Volunteer Fire Station

The Fire Stations are still in design, with construction scheduled for 2017. The integrated, early-stage design process has set both projects on a path to a more energy-efficient building for the client, has improved collaboration among the project team, and has resulted in a more cost-effective process for Brinjac. Because the Sefaira analyses took less than half the time of conventional tools, Brinjac’s team was able to deliver better insight, more quickly — resulting in earlier alignment and better building performance.

About Brinjac Engineering

Brinjac Engineering, a NELSON company, has a time-honored reputation for providing outstanding engineering services to local, state and federal governmental institutions, public and private schools and universities, hospitals, industrial complexes, museums and cultural facilities. Brinjac is an award-winning engineering firm with a diverse portfolio that demonstrates the broad range of experience that is provided by our team of approximately 80 professional, technical and support personnel.