Building Pressure Investigation – VCU Rhoads and Brandt Halls, Richmond, VA
Brandt and Rhoads Hall at VCU are both 17 story buildings with a total of 275,000 square feet split between them. They are bonded together via a main connecting lobby on the first floor. Both buildings house a total of 1,337 students, with Brandt containing suite-style living units. Both buildings contain laundry facilities and areas for social gatherings and meeting rooms for educational functions.
Both buildings have a central plant with chillers and boilers located in the basement in addition to various air handling equipment in the basement and the penthouse mechanical room.
PACE Collaborative was tasked with identifying the causes of the severe negative pressure in reference to the outdoors the buildings were experiencing. Air pressure upwards of up to -0.12” water column was measured. Through the retro commissioning process, PACE was not only able to determine that the operation of equipment in Brandt Hall was affecting the building pressure in Rhoads hall, but was also able to determine a flaw in the design of the stairwell pressurization system that inherently was contributing to the negative pressure of Brandt hall. PACE’s NEBB certified professional and personnel performed Retro commissioning which included air flow measurements of the HVAC equipment serving both buildings. The culmination of the airflow measurements not only established a baseline of how the equipment was operating, but provided insight on the operation of the controls system.
VCU was anxious to have results before the summer season arrived; therefore, PACE offered to provide services during the university’s spring break while the dormitories were unoccupied. Since PACE was able to provide measurement services of the equipment without having to seek proposals from an outside source to perform these services, the owner was able to allocate a portion of the cost savings to repair equipment. In addition to cost savings, PACE was able to provide the manpower required to complete the project in the allotted time.