UnderFloorSox (UFSox), a fabric ductwork manufactured by DuctSox Corp. of Peosta, Iowa, has been installed in the new Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) on the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Vancouver campus. It uses geothermal, solar, under-floor air distribution, natural ventilation and other technologies without conventional heating and cooling systems, making it an exceptionally sustainable building by any standards.
The four-story, 65,000-square-foot Centre has been awarded Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) platinum certification, and is seeking Living Building Challenge recognition. Stantec principal Jimmy Ng led a Stantec HVAC design team that worked with the CIRS research team headed by project leader John Robinson and architecture firm Perkins+Will of Vancouver.
Used in the building’s underfloor air-distribution (UFAD) system, UFSox is UL-approved and designed specifically for installation inside UFAD systems to distribute air closer to all floor diffusers and the perimeter. Designed by consulting engineering firm Stantec—Vancouver, the HVAC system utilizes technologies such as geothermal, heat scavenging from neighboring buildings and the sun.
Stantec’s indoor air quality (IAQ) design uses both natural and displacement ventilation. In the CIRS project, the UFAD acts as an 18-inch-high ventilation plenum to distribute air strategically through floor diffusers. Consequently, air is discharged from the floor upward as opposed to conventional overhead air-mixing ducts. Distributing heated air overhead requires an estimated 25 percent more fan horsepower and is less efficient in getting air to the occupied zone. Additionally, compared to metal duct with registers and dampers inside UFAD, fabric duct’s inherent linear diffusion characteristics distribute air more evenly, plus its flexibility easily circumvents utility piping obstacles and can be quickly rerouted during floor reconfigurations.
CIRS’ air is discharged to each floor’s UFAD and is controlled with a building automation system by Minneapolis, Minn.-based Honeywell, one of several CIRS project strategic partners.