Design Challenges of Tall Buildings Addressed by ASHRAE


Tall commercial office buildings present a series of design problems that differ from those that are found in other projects in the built environment.

Only through the combined efforts of owners and design teams can these problems be addressed and resolved in the most effective manner, according to Donald E. Ross.

Ross is the author of The HVAC Design Guide for Tall Commercial Buildings, which provides guidance in both understanding the HVAC design problems of tall commercial office buildings and in detailing their alternative solutions. It is published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

"While the HVAC engineers are primarily concerned with meeting the mechanical needs, they also must understand how their efforts integrate with other design team members to provide an overall project that is attractive, cost effective, energy efficient and flexible in meeting the needs of occupants," Ross said. "The goal is to achieve a project that integrates the designs of the entire designing team - not just providing a successful air conditioning system."

Ross also addresses life safety systems needed for tall commercial buildings.

"The life safety system is a multidisciplinary effort that must be included in a project to ensure that the occupants can get safely out of the building in the event of a fire or other emergency," he said.

While HVAC engineers are primarily concerned with the design of the smoke management system, they must understand how the entire life safety system functions and the concerns that other design professionals must address.

"The goal is to achieve an integrated total system to provide maximum protection within the requirements of the applicable building code," Ross said.

A total life safety system must include a detection system, fire standpipe and sprinkler systems, a smoke management system, an emergency/standby power system, an automatic elevator recall system, communication and alarm notification systems and a central fire command centre.

Ross has been involved with the design of tall commercial buildings throughout the United States and the world including the Sears Tower in Chicago (the tallest building in the United States), the Bank of China in Hong Kong (the tallest building outside the United States at the time of its construction in 1992) and the MesseTurm in Frankfurt (the tallest building in Europe when completed in the last decade).

The HVAC Design Guide for Tall Commercial Buildings is available from ASHRAE

Primary Author(s): ASHRAE
Source: KIBT News
No 552
7 April 2004

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