Case Studies

View our posted Case Studies of the completed and current projects, where you can sort by Service, Date or by Building Type to find the Case Studies that interest you. This is not a comprehensive list as we continue to build and update our website, so please Contact Us if you require more information or have questions of our project experience

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Affinity
Affinity
acuc
Affinity Credit Union Campus
Commissioning
Office Building
Posted Nov. 19, 2014

Affinity Credit Union Campus is consolidation of this Affinity’s departments from all across Saskatchewan into one central administration building in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  A progressive workplace culture influenced the creation of more staff facilities (meetings rooms, fitness facility), an entire new floor dedicated to staff break-out/relaxation areas and kitchen and lounge space.  
        
Service completion: Summer 2013
Scope of services: Commissioning for system verification and testing
Size: $22,000,000 construction budget    
Building systems: Chilled beams and reheat coils, fed by 2 boilers (1 condensing, 1 non-condensing) and air-cooled chiller along with fluid cooler for free cooling

 

Thurston Engineering Services was hired for system verification and testing, with the owner recognizing the immense benefit of this third party system tuning before occupancy.  The owner got their money’s worth, with Thurston Engineering Services finding and managing the rectification of many significant comfort and efficiency issues.

 

No matter what was done on the building management control system, the fluid cooler was not cooling water!  It was found that the unit was factory-set to “heat recovery” mode: it was trying to extract heat from air rather than eject heat to air.  The air handling unit valves were not fully closing, despite what the building management control system said, causing costly simultaneous heating and cooling.  There was also simultaneous heating and cooling at the zone level where zones were not wired correctly: a call for heating was met with chilled beam cooling….and thus zones had great difficulty meeting setpoint.  Finally, thermography detected multiple air locks in the heating and cooling lines allowing no flow to chilled beams.  While many of these issues may have been found eventually, solving them during construction (while the contractors were on-site) saved much time and much headache.  The costly simultaneous heating/cooling issues may have never been found!

 

Churchill Community High School
Churchill Community High School
cchs
Churchill Community High School
Commissioning
School
Posted Nov. 19, 2014

Churchill Community High School project is an addition and renovation to the Grade 7-12 school in the northern town of La Ronge, Saskatchewan.  Being a northern, remote community seen as a hub in the entire northern half of the province, the school project was very important to an entire geographical half of the province.
 
Service completion: Fall 2014
Scope of services: Fundamental Commissioning (EAp1) for CaGBC LEED: New Construction 2009
Size: $39,000,000 construction budget, 100,000 sq.ft. renovation and addition
Building systems: 100% outdoor air, minimal ventilation system with radiant in-floor and ceiling heating system fed by condensing boiler, no cooling

 

The Churchill Community High School was first built in 1964 but, through time and an emergent young northern population, the facility was in great need of renewal and expansion.  Being physically close to some of the most beautiful natural surroundings in the province, renewing this facility in an environmentally conscious way by pursuing a LEED Silver designation was important.  As a prerequisite, fundamental commissioning formed part of that goal.

Once getting into the building, it was found that there were functional issues.  For the heating system, valves were not responding to open and closed commands or were reversed altogether, zones had incorrect flow and thus inappropriate heating capacity, and thermostats were mis-wired at the manifold and controlling incorrect zones.  

There was a blatant incident of systems fighting each other: in the server room, thermostat setpoint restrictions caused the heating panel to fight the packaged air conditioner.  The thermostat was limited to be set as low as 19degC, while the packaged air conditioner was necessarily set to 16degC; thus, the air conditioner was keeping room cool at 16degC while the heating panel tried desperately to heat room to 19degC.  Simple programming of the thermostat with the controls contractor onsite allowed the heating panel’s thermostat to go to 16degC and lower such that this battle would not continue.

For the ventilation system, fans are supposed to wait on dampers to open before starting.  This did not happen and fans started with dampers closed, causing failure closed on the exhaust damper resulting in no fresh air flow in system which would have caused sleepy students…..not due to the day’s geography lesson.  

 

Emerald Ridge
Emerald Ridge
eres
Emerald Ridge Elementary School
Commissioning
School
Posted Nov. 19, 2014

Emerald Ridge Elementary School is a new school in White City, Saskatchewan, that is touted to be “at the forefront of 21st century education design” [Principal of school].  To engineers, occupant comfort, efficient and low maintenance operations are paramount to 21st century design, and this facility reflects both.
 
Service completion: Fall 2014
Scope of services: Enhanced and Fundamental Commissioning (EAp1, EAc3) for CaGBC LEED: New Construction 2009
Size: $22,000,000 construction budget, 63,000 sq.ft.
Building systems: VAV system with radiant in-floor heating, fed by condensing boiler and cooling by direct expansion coils on air handling units.

 

Few facilities are as important in a small community as a school.  In the growing suburb of Regina, White City/Emerald Park is no exception and Thurston Engineering Services recognized this.  Commissioning activities resulted in construction change order cost savings and in quickest resolution of issues for the school division so that they could open happily and on time in the new school year, all while demonstrating a green example for its community with its seeking LEED Silver designation.
 

In Enhanced Commissioning, change orders were avoided with detailed editing of the legally-binding design documents (drawings and specification): discrepancies between mechanical and electrical schedules as mechanical design changes were not reflected in electrical design; incomplete sequences, reset schedules, flow schedules, and missing defrost cycle on heat recovery unit; incorrect Section referencing and missing Sections in specification.  
 

In Fundamental Commissioning, there were installation issues such as ductwork with greater than 90deg bend restricting flow to VAVs.  With thermography, too low flow was found in some in-floor heating zones, resulting in no heating capacity.

 

With the flooding being an increasing issue in the area, sump pumps are essential: commissioning found that only 1/5 of sump pumps in crawlspace had an operating high level alarm working such that in a heavy rain, no alarms would delay detection of a problem until it was too late.  Finally, it was found that the programmed controls were not in accordance with the mechanical designer’s sequences; rather than issue a long report of deficiencies for the controls contractor to fix, Thurston Engineering Services facilitated a collaboration of the mechanical team and controls team to discuss which variances were acceptable such that the action items were reduced from 6 pages to only a dozen items.  The facility opened to an excited community of students, staff and parents in Fall 2014.

Pine Grove
Pine Grove
lockers
Pine Grove Provincial Correctional Centre
Commissioning
Correctional Facility
Posted Nov. 19, 2014

Pine Grove Provincial Correctional Centre is a two-level expansion to the existing facility in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  The expansion is mainly living quarters, arranged into 4 pods.

Service completion: Winter 2014 commissioning, Fall 2013 energy simulation
Scope of services: Enhanced and Fundamental Commissioning (EAp1, EAc3), Minimum and Optimize Energy Performance Simulation (EAp2, EAc1) for CaGBC LEED: New Construction 2009
Size: $13,400,000 construction budget
Building systems: Insulated metal panel and concrete block envelope, radiant (floor, wall and ceiling) heating and cooling with hot and chilled water, demand control ventilation, high efficiency lighting with some occupancy sensor control


Pine Grove Provincial Correctional Centre’s new living unit has simple geometry but complex design: there are many small zones, many manifolds, a dual chiller and fluid-cooler strategy for generating chilled water, complex controls dealing with both space conditioning needs and a CO2 demand control ventilation strategy utilizing VAV boxes for ventilation but fan-coil units for actual air circulation.  This posed both modeling and commissioning challenges.  


The model was made with EE4 energy modeling software.  The radiant systems were sufficiently modeled, but the interaction of the chiller and fluid-cooler was independently assessed from the model’s hourly reports of cooling energy use along with wetbulb and drybulb temperatures.  Further, an occupancy analysis was done to determine an appropriate demand control credit for both outdoor air heating/cooling reduction and fanpower savings.  As members of the CaGBC’s Experienced Modellers List, Thurston Engineering Services modeled this facility to be 41% better than MNECB with respect to all costs, equating to 10 points.


Enhanced commissioning, as in every facility, helped avoid costly change orders in detecting inconsistent and missing elements in design documents: manifolds and tanks occupying the same space, missing fresh air supplies to fan-coils, missing balancing dampers, missing equipment on mechanical schedule, and motor specifications that did not match between mechanical and electrical drawings (causing improper breaker sizing, motor starter sizing, etc.).


In this correctional facility, commissioning activities during construction were invaluable: in such a facility, contractors returning after occupancy to fix issues would come at much cost and headache with moving and secluding inmates and with escorting contractors.  As such, the common air locks in radiant heating/cooling of cells, incorrectly programmed valves (heat command causes cooling and vice versa…most corrected on-site with controls contractor in less than 5 minutes!) and defective fan-coil controller boards signalling false alarms issues being rectified well before occupancy was crucial. 

Pine Grove
Pine Grove
lockers
Pine Grove Provincial Correctional Centre
Energy Simulation
Correctional Facility
Posted Nov. 19, 2014

Pine Grove Provincial Correctional Centre is a two-level expansion to the existing facility in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  The expansion is mainly living quarters, arranged into 4 pods.

Service completion: Winter 2014 commissioning, Fall 2013 energy simulation
Scope of services: Enhanced and Fundamental Commissioning (EAp1, EAc3), Minimum and Optimize Energy Performance Simulation (EAp2, EAc1) for CaGBC LEED: New Construction 2009
Size: $13,400,000 construction budget
Building systems: Insulated metal panel and concrete block envelope, radiant (floor, wall and ceiling) heating and cooling with hot and chilled water, demand control ventilation, high efficiency lighting with some occupancy sensor control


Pine Grove Provincial Correctional Centre’s new living unit has simple geometry but complex design: there are many small zones, many manifolds, a dual chiller and fluid-cooler strategy for generating chilled water, complex controls dealing with both space conditioning needs and a CO2 demand control ventilation strategy utilizing VAV boxes for ventilation but fan-coil units for actual air circulation.  This posed both modeling and commissioning challenges.  


The model was made with EE4 energy modeling software.  The radiant systems were sufficiently modeled, but the interaction of the chiller and fluid-cooler was independently assessed from the model’s hourly reports of cooling energy use along with wetbulb and drybulb temperatures.  Further, an occupancy analysis was done to determine an appropriate demand control credit for both outdoor air heating/cooling reduction and fanpower savings.  As members of the CaGBC’s Experienced Modellers List, Thurston Engineering Services modeled this facility to be 41% better than MNECB with respect to all costs, equating to 10 points.


Enhanced commissioning, as in every facility, helped avoid costly change orders in detecting inconsistent and missing elements in design documents: manifolds and tanks occupying the same space, missing fresh air supplies to fan-coils, missing balancing dampers, missing equipment on mechanical schedule, and motor specifications that did not match between mechanical and electrical drawings (causing improper breaker sizing, motor starter sizing, etc.).


In this correctional facility, commissioning activities during construction were invaluable: in such a facility, contractors returning after occupancy to fix issues would come at much cost and headache with moving and secluding inmates and with escorting contractors.  As such, the common air locks in radiant heating/cooling of cells, incorrectly programmed valves (heat command causes cooling and vice versa…most corrected on-site with controls contractor in less than 5 minutes!) and defective fan-coil controller boards signalling false alarms issues being rectified well before occupancy was crucial. 

Sk Blue Cross
Sk Blue Cross
skbc
Saskatchewan Blue Cross Expansion
Commissioning
Office Building
Posted Nov. 19, 2014

Saskatchewan Blue Cross underwent a large expansion of its head office in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to accommodate its growing service alongside the growing province.  It added 3 storeys of office space along with a parkade.
    
Service completion: Winter 2015
Scope of services: Commissioning for system verification and testing
Size: 40,000 sq.ft.
Building systems: Chilled beams and radiant heating ceiling panels, fed by a condensing boiler and an air-cooled chiller

 

Thurston Engineering Services was hired for system verification and testing, with the owner recognizing the immense benefit of this third party system tuning before occupancy.  In this project, Thurston Engineering Services found issues that, if not rectified, would have caused huge failures and expensive fixes in future.

 

It was found that the programmed calculation of dewpoint was calculating higher than actual, such that chilled water valves were closing (unnecessarily) in alarm to prevent a condensation situation that did not exist.  This was a tricky find: it is likely that this section of the building would have never cooled to an acceptable level.  Staff would have constantly complained to management that the space was too warm.  If these cooling valves never opened, the possibility existed that they would seize and require eventual replacement (costly if not found during commissioning or the warranty period).  

 

As in other projects, the manufacturer’s controllers for boiler, chiller and air handling unit were not talking to building management system.  If the building management system could not talk to this equipment, who knows how this expensive equipment would have reacted to its perceived system needs and how long it would have taken the manufacturers to come up from the USA to fix the problem.  

 

Finally, in the heating system, it was found that the variable frequency drive on a pump was fried; thus, lead/lag was down to 1 pump and, if that pump failed, the entire heating system would be susceptible to failure and damage.

 

Saskatoon Police HQ
Saskatoon Police HQ
sphq
Saskatoon Police Service Headquarters
Commissioning
Multi-Use Building
Posted Nov. 19, 2014

Saskatoon Police Service Headquarters is an impressive facility amalgamating seventeen separate locations into one, including offices, holding cells, indoor firing range, K9 unit housing, forensics lab, 911 call centre, and large parkade in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Service completion: Summer 2014
Scope of services: assist in Fundamental Commissioning (EAp1) for CaGBC LEED: New Construction 2009
Size: $125,000,000 construction budget, 350,000 sq.ft.
Building systems: Nine air handling units (predominantly VAV) with radiant ceiling heating, condensing boiler, condensing domestic hot water plant, water-cooled chiller with fluid cooler providing “free cooling”

 

Thurston Engineering Services was brought into this project during system verification when the contracted commissioning agent, CFMS Alberta, realized the benefit of partnering with a local commissioning agent to provide more manpower in commissioning and to deal with the smaller everyday commissioning tasks.

 

The system verification activities found many issues that, when summed, would have resulted in a costly, unending investment in the City’s infrastructure.  Almost none of the necessary equipment alarms were set-up, such that an untended alarm may have seriously damaged costly air-handling units or worse.  The humidification system was non-functional due to a failed humidifier and leaking valves; radiator and reheat valves were non-responsive and air-locked; outdoor air damper on an air handling unit stayed open during fan shutdown which could have caused an expensive freeze-up of air-handling unit components in winter.  Finally, the exhaust fan in the firing range did not even engage – necessary to exhaust toxic lead and other gun emissions.  Holy smokes!

Ecole St Anne
Ecole St Anne
École St. Anne School
Commissioning
School
Posted Feb. 15, 2013

École St. Anne School in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, uses simple design along with smart use of renewable energy to achieve big energy savings and potentially become the first LEED school in Saskatchewan.

Service completion: Fall 2011
Scope of services: Enhanced and Fundamental Commissioning (EAp1, EAc3), Minimum and Optimize Energy Performance Simulation (EAp2, EAc1) for CaGBC LEED: New Construction 1.0 with addenda, Renewable Energy Simulation
Size: $14,200,000 construction budget, 4950 sq.m.
Building systems: Stone/concrete and metal panel envelope, radiant heating with 100% outdoor air demand control ventilation and no centrallized cooling, efficient lighting with occupancy and daylight sensor control.

The design of École St. Anne School is simple: use hot water to heat the spaces with radiant panels, provide small air-conditioners in the daycare centre only (as it is only space regularly occupied in summer), and ventilate with 100% outdoor air from VAV boxes driven by occupancy sensors. Also, provide lighting that is controlled by occupancy and by daylight sensing, as opposed to manual control which can be forgotten in a chaotic classroom environment. A big, beneficial design feature was using a solar wall to preheat ventilation air to the gymnasium, which had a large, empty south-facing wall.

But even with good design comes implementation issues...that's where commissioning comes in. Programming of the VAVs was not in accordance with the spec: there was no cooling in the building; however, there is a design cooling airflow for when outdoor temperature conditions can provide cool air. This was not programmed correctly when outdoor temperature conditions are too warm for cooling, as the boxes still go into max flow and dump very warm air into the space (heating it up even further). An outdoor air temperature cutoff point had to be programmed so that in these circumstances, the spaces would not be overheated. The other aspect of this is that the spaces were constantly calling for cooling, i.e. max airflow, so the supply and return fan variable speed drives were running at maximum speed. Other major commissioning verifications indicated that approximately 50% of the radiant panels were air locked and not providing heat, and the air conditioners for computer lab and daycare had refrigerant leaks and some wiring issues.

With efficient boilers, demand control ventilation, solar wall savings, and efficient lighting, the building model was reviewed to be 52% better than MNECB with respect to cost, equivalent to 7 points for EAc1.

thurston