Montana State University

MSU engineering and architecture students win international competition

August 7, 2014 -- MSU News Service

A group of engineering and architecture students from Montana State took first in an international field with their submission in an integrated sustainable building design competition. The combined architecture-engineering team, pictured here at their project site in Brooklyn, N.Y., includes: Theresa Lindenau, Martin Reaves,Terra Moran, Mary Peterson and Elyse Casper.For their design, pictured here, the team chose to integrate a highly efficient closed-loop renewable river water heat exchange, using a variable refrigerant flow system that would use the temperature of the river to either heat or cool the building.The Montana State University team design for the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers integrated sustainable building design competition projects to be highly energy efficient.

A group of engineering and architecture students from Montana State took first in an international field with their submission in an integrated sustainable building design competition. The combined architecture-engineering team, pictured here at their project site in Brooklyn, N.Y., includes: Theresa Lindenau, Martin Reaves,Terra Moran, Mary Peterson and Elyse Casper.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN – A group of engineering and architecture students from Montana State took first place among an international field with their integrated sustainable building design in a competition sponsored by the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE.

The interdisciplinary group consisted of four MSU seniors and one graduate student: Terra Moran of Calgary, Alberta, Mary Peterson of Missoula and Martin Reaves of Boulder, Colo., all from the College of Engineering’s Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department; and Theresa Lindenau of Olympia, Wash., and grad student Elyse Casper of Driggs, Idaho, from the College of Arts and Architecture. The team will receive a $2,000 prize, plus free transportation, two nights lodging and $100 expenses for one team representative to attend an award ceremony at the 2015 ASHRAE Winter Meeting to be held in Chicago.

The MSU team went to great lengths to work up their design, said Kevin Amende, MSU assistant professor of mechanical engineering and co-advisor to the group with Ralph Johnson, professor of architecture. Their hard work paid off with a win in MSU’s first entry into the ASHRAE integrated sustainable building competition category, Amende said.

“It’s really a testament to their work ethic on this project, and to their ability to think outside the box,” Amende said. “That’s the whole idea behind working this into a two-semester sequence that combines engineering and architecture. There are problems that can’t just be solved with a mechanical engineering approach, or through architectural thinking alone, you need a multidisciplinary approach.”

The competition’s challenge was to select a building to renovate, retrofit and redesign with integrated sustainable building energy systems and fundamental elements.

After selecting a Brooklyn site on New York City’s East River, the team chose to integrate a closed-loop renewable river water heat exchange, using a variable refrigerant flow system that would use the temperature of the river to either heat or cool the building.

The building’s specifications show it would be highly efficient, though the variable refrigerant flow system was an element with a steep learning curve, Theresa Lindenau said. From site selection, to the use of a green roof, to their choices of sound-dampening materials, the report and video the team submitted to ASHRAE detail the design.

“The system we chose … wasn’t even in the (text book),” Lindenau said. “It was great to learn about a trending engineering solution.”

While the team was venturing into somewhat uncharted territory, Lindenau said they did their due diligence by exploring existing examples – Bozeman’s Hawthorne Elementary School uses a variable refrigerant system. And when it came to the design choices, they also worked very well as a team, she added.

“It’s all about collaboration and I can’t stress enough how great this group was at that,” said Lindenau, who now an architecture graduate student and plans to pursue similar sustainable building energy systems designs in her career. “I enjoyed the engineers process where everything in the (decision making process) is weighted in a certain way so that we all had a say in which solutions were going to benefit the project the most.” 

Lindenau said she was also reveling in the fact that MSU’s team, four of five of whom are women, finished atop a field that included international competition such as runner-up Tianjin University in China and third-place University of Georgia.

“I was so happy we came in ahead of China,” Lindenau said. “They are so advanced over there and to have MSU take first in front of them is fantastic.”

Contact: Kevin Amende, (406) 994-6304, kamende@me.montana.edu.