05 July 2001
Park visitor center serves as test bed for HVAC technology
A working example of the next generation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC, design and technology is in
service right now at the Zion National Park Visitor and Comfort Centers near Springdale, Utah, a 7,600-square-foot facility where climate extremes range from an average low of 24°F in January to an average high of 101°F in July. By all accounts, the center stays comfy year round.
The secret, according to building consultants at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is a design philosophy that emphasizes energy efficiency from the moment the architect puts pencil to bumwad. Among the features are the following:
- Trombe wallscomposite assemblies that trap heat between a pane of glass
and a black coating, storing heat in a masonry wall. In winter, the surface
temperature of the wall may exceed 100°F. Overhangs prevent heat buildup
in the summer, however.
- Two passive downdraft cooling towers. Water pumps over pads located at
the top of the towers, causing the surrounding air to cool and fall as the
water evaporates. Each tower, without the use of fans, circulates approximately
8,000 cubic feet of air per minute.
- During the winter, the sun shines directly on the concrete floors, which
stores heat and releases it throughout the day.