“From the beginning, it was the developer’s intention to build something that was energy efficient and that would minimize the impact on the environment,” said Judy Robinson, AIA, Continuum Architecture and Design, who designed the project. “That’s a philosophy we both shared.”
James Maransky, president of EnVision Group, said his organization recently received the LEED for Homes Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council – the highest designation in energy and environmental design and building practices. In fact, the project is the first LEED for Homes Platinum Certified Multi-Family Low-Rise Complex in Philadelphia history.
The Icehouse’s green attributes speak for themselves. Among them, the Icehouse incorporates the following:
- Recycled bricks and wooden beams removed from the old structure and repurposed in common areas, such as a stairway and rooftop pond;
- A ‘green roof’ rainwater recycling system;
- Solar energy panels that power common-area electrical needs;
- A high-efficiency, tankless system that provides hot water;
- Hybrid-car electrical hookups in the parking garage ; and
- A high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.
Of particular interest is the HVAC system that features the low air-leakage of pre-insulated ductwork fabricated from The Kingspan KoolDuct System. This makes it an attractive alternative for a green project like the Icehouse, where it keeps the air–leakage rate between one and five percent throughout nearly 10,000 sq.ft of the complex.
“When the KoolDuct product was recommended by (general contractor) Freedom Enterprises, I was very impressed,” said Maransky. “Having a fabricated duct system with minimal seams helped to ensure that air was flowing into the living space without escaping, making the space much more comfortable and energy efficient. It performed very well during the pressurized testing that was an integral part of the LEED certification process.”
The results from the full system air-leakage testing confirmed that the leakage rate is less than 40 CFM for each condo, which is significantly less than typical sheet metal ductwork. KoolDuct easily meets the Class 3 leakage requirements of SMACNA and is projected to save about 25 to 30 percent in HVAC electrical consumption.
Reduced air-leakage also helps air traveling through a ductwork system stay cool when moving through a hot attic, lowering demand on HVAC equipment and reducing energy costs for homeowners. In fact, industry studies show that reduced air leakage through ductwork can lead to:
- Decreased design loads, which reduce the initial construction costs for equipment and ductwork;
- Reduced fan energy requirements;
- Reduced energy requirements for heating, cooling and dehumidifying the airstream;
- Less difficulty balancing the system airflows; and
- Improved indoor air quality.
Fabricated from rigid thermoset non-fibrous phenolic insulation panels, Kingspan KoolDuct offers many advantages over fiber glass ductboard and traditional sheet metal ductwork insulated with fiber glass duct wrap. According to Sterling Minter, vice president of PTM Manufacturing, the system supplier that first introduced KoolDuct to the project’s specifying engineers, Wachter Associates, “Not only does the pre-insulated system contribute to operational energy efficiency by reducing air-leakage, the KoolDuct panel used on the Icehouse project is the most thermally efficient insulation product commonly used in applications of its kind, delivering a more consistent R value (R-6.0 at 7/8” and R-8.1 at 1 3/16”) than typical fiberglass.”
It’s not just Icehouse homeowners who will profit from this system; it also provides the ductwork contractor with just as many advantages – both practical and financial. Ryan Rex, owner of HVAC contracting firm R.P. Rex Heating & Cooling, said, “The fact that it is so easy to work with was really important on the Icehouse because some pre-fabricated wooden joists did not have duct shafts lined up. We had to make many offsets and transitions to get the ductwork to the air device locations. Also, many areas did not have sufficient space to manually wrap a duct with fiberglass insulation.”
In other areas of the complex, the KoolDuct System ductwork was delivered in sections up to 13 ft long, requiring less handling and fewer supports, and saving installation time – all benefits for the contractor.