WIT Press

Promoting Solar Thermal Design: The Mechanical Engineering Building At The University Of New Mexico


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A. A. Mammoli, P. Vorobieff & D. Menicucci


Thermal conditioning of buildings accounts for about half of the energy use in industrialized countries. Thus there is a considerable incentive to use renewable energy, especially solar, to heat and cool buildings. For small residential applications, ‘passive’ designs often suffice to cover most needs, however for larger, institutional buildings more technological ‘active’ measures are often required to provide thermal comfort. The Mechanical Engineering building at the University of New Mexico is an example of the latter class of building, in which a thermal solar panel array in combination with an absorption chiller and various energy saving measures results in a substantial reduction of energy requirements. At the same time, the building serves as an educational facility and a research laboratory for training future engineers in the field of renewables. The design of the building is presented, both in terms of its educational purpose and its energy saving measures. The performance of the building is also discussed. 1 Introduction There is now widespread consensus in the scientific community that human activity (burning of fossil fuels) has already influenced Earth’s climate [1], and that severe consequences are likely to result unless corrective action is taken [2]. At the same time, fossil fuel reserves are dwindling, with possibly disastrous effects, based on historical experience [3]. Despite this, political action to alleviate these