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

Barrington Place
Multi-Unit Residential Building
Energy Management

Several heating seasons have passed since the installation of new hot water heating system boilers at Barrington Place located in downtown Saskatoon, SK.

Service completion: 2008

Scope of services: Auditing, Retrofit Project Management, Ongoing Monitoring of Energy Use, Federal and Provincial Grant Application

Size: 106,000 sq.ft., 11 storeys

Building system: Hot water radiators with hot water coil in central make-up air unit fed by boiler; dedicated domestic hot water boiler. Two aged heating system boilers and one domestic hot water boiler were replaced with a Viessmann Hybrid hot water heating system configuration. One, Vitocrossal CT3-57 condensing boiler (2,160 MBTU) and one, Vitorond VD2-700 near condensing boiler (2,843 MBTU) were installed. The new boiler plant provided heating for perimeter radiation, a heating coil in the make-up air unit and domestic hot water storage.

A comparison of the first two years after the retrofit was completed and reveals cumulated savings of over $36,000 for the two heating seasons. The reduction was 16.3% in the first year following the retrofit, and 30.9% the second year following the retrofit. Full federal and provincial incentives were obtained. "Perhaps Thurston's greatest contribution is their attention to detail after a project has been completed." - Property Manager, Colliers McClocklin Real Estate

Kingsgate Border Crossing
Multi-Unit Residential Building
Energy Simulation

Service completion: Spring 2012

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.

Size: $16,000,000 construction budget

Building systems: Stone veneer envelope, combination of variable air volume systems and single zone systems, efficient lighting with occupancy and daylight sensor control.

Throughout design, the project investigated many technologies (such as geothermal storage, air source heat pumps, and others); however, a traditional variable air volume was chosen for the occupied spaces and single zone systems for less occupied and warehouse spaces. However, high efficiency boilers, heat recovery ventilators, and sophisticated lighting provided sufficient savings for the investment. The sum of the two building energy models showed 41% better than MNECB with respect to cost, equivalent to 4 points for EAc1.

Commissioning and verification of the VAV boxes revealed that the VAVs that were tied to CO2 sensors would not provide any air to the space unless there was an increase in CO2 levels. While the cooling airflow was not tied to the CO2 level, when in a heating mode, the only way the box would provide any air was for the CO2 levels to be high enough to activate the box. Occupants (Border Patrol) were wearing hats and jackets as they had no heat.

Verification of the airflows from the VAVs revealed that several of the boxes were outside of tolerances and one in particular wasn't even close to design conditions. A review of the TAB report revealed that the box was not included and probably missed in the initial balancing, and this box was to serve the Main Port Chief Officer's Office. Also, the location of the Pill Box thermostats was not representative of the space temperature conditions (mounted under a desk) and, as such, the officers manning the Pill Boxes were not comfortable. The thermostats were relocated and are providing better thermal comfort.

AODBT Office Renovations
Multi-Unit Residential Building
Energy Simulation

AODBT Office Renovation is an example of Thurston Engineering Services' status as experienced energy modellers: Thurston was brought in to model the award-winning building system post-review. Essentially, it was our job to look at modelling conundrums that technical assistance and a previous reviewer could not solve.

Service completion: Fall 2012

Scope of services: Optimize Energy Performance Simulation (EAc1) for CaGBC LEED: New Construction 1.0 with addenda

Size: 14,000 sq.ft.

Building systems: Metal-clad exterior on insulated concrete block and wood framing, RadLink combination forced-air heating/cooling system and radiant wall heating, efficient lighting with some occupancy sensor control.

With the renovation project, there were limitations with this construction along with a desire to be a showcase in interior design and in energy design. While the owner was comfortable using a simple traditional forced air furnace system in the small building, perimeter comfort was a concern. As a result, the RadLink system was introduced where the forced air furnaces provided heating and ventilation, but also generated hot water for perimeter heating---saving on initial capital over a boiler system, and saving on much future operating cost over the electric baseboard alternative. This required splitting heating into the "air handling unit" forced air portion, and into a "boiler" for radiant heating. This did not yield savings over the simplistic modeling of putting all energy in the "air handling unit", but it did solve modeled under-heating issues and increased the accuracy of the model. Savings were achieved in accounting the variable speed capability of the furnace fans, where the fans were in low speed with low heating or cooling load, and ramped up with load. This is not modeled with traditional variable speed systems, so a manual calculation of savings was required.

In addition to those significant changes, the accuracy of the model was improved upon initial review to account for designed fan static pressure, to account for the electrically heated zones, and to account for the pumping of the RadLink system. The end result was a more accurate model at 34% better than MNECB with respect to cost, achieving 2 more points than the initial review.

Stobart Community School
Multi-Unit Residential Building

Stobart Community School in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, is a new and important facility in the small community that greatly benefited from commissioning in ensuring that the facility was safe, and ensuring all areas were appropriately heated from the first day of school.

Service completion: Fall 2012

Scope of services: Fundamental Commissioning (EAp1)

Size: 65,000 sq.ft.

Building systems: Curtainwall and brick envelope, radiant in-floor heating and no cooling, high efficiency lighting.

Stobart Community School brought together the community's elementary school and high school into one comprehensive facility. In the northern climate and with anticipated low occupancy in summer, a cooling system was not necessary; however, the heating system was a large investment, complete with large expectations of low energy usage and exceptional occupant comfort.

Upon installation and commissioning of the mechanical system, it was first noted that a large safety issue existed: the air handling units were not tied to the fire alarm system. Also, the dampers on air handling units did not close upon fan shut down. On the zone level, the in-floor radiant heating system was not properly balanced, and thus not properly heating all zones. The crawlspace was also not appropriately meeting setpoint, as there was no hot water flow getting to the unit heaters. Most of these issues were a result of airlocks in the heating lines, undersized pumps and lack of guidance for balancing of the hydronic system.

Because of the formal documentation of these and other findings in commissioning reports and appropriate follow-up, all issues were addressed by the designers and contractors in a timely fashion. This resulted in a facility that operated as designed soon after the students returned to the classroom.

Warman Middle Years School
Energy Simulation

Warman Middle Years School is a multi-winged addition to a new recreation facility in Warman, Saskatchewan, with a designed integration of systems between the two facilities creating a commissioning and modeling challenge.

Service completion: Ongoing commissioning, Fall 2012 completion for 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: $24,000,000 construction budget

Building systems: Curtainwall and stone envelope, radiant in-floor heating and ceiling cooling with hot and chilled water from district energy system and demand control ventilation, high efficiency lighting with occupancy and photovoltaic control.

Warman Middle Years School has many space uses: classrooms, woodworking shop, art classroom, home economics classroom, kitchen, library, offices and large stage and theatre. Each space has unique design features, requiring specialized commissioning and modeling.

In addition to the multiple space uses, the nearby recreational facility (including ice arena) supplied all hot water, chilled water and domestic hot water for the school. The high grade hot water was generated by boilers, chilled water generated by the ice plant (incorporating a cooling tower and ice battery), and low grade hot water (for radiant in-floor heating) was recovered from the ice plant. While the commissioning scope was to check that proper water temperatures were being delivered to the school, modeling had to look closely at the arena systems, check operating trends, and calculate energy use and savings in this integration. In the end, the model was reviewed to show performance of 47% better than MNECB with respect to cost, equating to 14 points.

With Enhanced Commissioning, design review of the radiant in-floor heating and cooling lines discovered that there would not be enough space in the walls to run the lines as designed. Also, discrepancies with the size and orientation of duct chases on the Mechanical and Architectural drawings were discovered, which could have led to change orders during construction had the ductwork not been relocated.

While Fundamental Commissioning, major comfort issues were discovered.  In addition to way-too-common cross-wiring of thermostats at manifolds (thermostats connected to wrong zone) and valves installed backwards (“open” on building management system is actually a closed valve), almost all 30 classrooms had reverse hydronic balancing: while the perimeter is supposed to have most hot water flow (and thus highest heating capacity) and interior is supposed to have least hot water flow (and thus least heating capacity), this was balanced in reverse such that the least flow was going to perimeter and way too much flow to the interior…which also houses the thermostat.  The result was a chilly 15degC perimeter in the occupied zone, no matter what the system did.  See thermography images where there is nearly invisible flow at the wall.  All issues were rectified for a much more comfortable classroom!

École St. Anne School
Energy Simulation

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.

CIBC Building
Office Building
Energy Management

This recognizable tower in downtown Saskatoon was constructed in 1969, and like many buildings, has undergone many small renovations and maintenance projects without knowledge of the original design intent. The results of this study speak to the importance of these evaluations and the value of re-commissioning or retro-commissioning aging buildings.

Service completion: In progress.

Scope of services: Auditing, HVAC Design, Retrofit Project Management, Ongoing Monitoring of Energy Use.

Size: 50,000 sq.ft., 10 storeys.

Building system: Two constant volume air handling units; hot water radiators fed by two steam boilers CIBC Building suffered from many occupant complaints, despite fully operating boilers and air-handling units. Having heard enough complaints, the owners asked Thurston Engineering Services to evaluate the mechanical system.

Thurston found that the problem was not in the major equipment, but in the distribution of air in each zone: 50% of the ventilation air was not making it into the space as it was being discharged (and caught) in the ceiling space. This was because the original design was to have perforated ceiling tiles to allow this air to flow into the space; however, along the way, these tiles were mistakenly replaced with solid tiles. A ducted system with diffusers directing air into the space was designed by Thurston Engineering Services, complete with as-built drawings, and is in process of being implemented.

While results are yet to be determined, it is anticipated that occupant complaints of stuffiness and poor temperature control will be much reduced, and savings will be realized as one of the air-handling units may not be needed for 90% of heating season.

"Throughout the past three years, I have come to depend on Thurston for advice on equipment assessment and replacement. They will, at a moment's notice, meet with me or travel to one of our properties to assess a situation." - Director, Macro Properties

Monterey Place
Multi-Unit Residential Building
Energy Management

In pursuit of lowering operating costs and increasing building performance, the Monterey Place Condominium Corporation investigated the costs and benefits of upgrading their existing boiler system at their facility in Saskatoon, SK. With this purpose in mind, Thurston Engineering Services was contracted to perform a Pre-Project Energy Audit and make application through NRCan's ecoENERGY program to obtain available incentives.

Service completion: 2010
Scope of services: Auditing, Retrofit Project Management, Ongoing Monitoring of Energy Use, Federal and Provincial Grant Application
Size: 51,594 sq.ft., 32 condominium units
Building system: Hot water radiators fed by hot water boiler; dedicated domestic hot water heaters

The building was constructed in the 1998 and contains 32 condominiums. General observations made during the energy audit included a well maintained, but inefficient non-condensing hot water boiler system. Natural gas consuming equipment consisted of one, 1,560 MBTU hot water boiler and two, 250 MBTU hot water heaters that were the original equipment for the building.

The non-condensing boiler and water heaters were replaced with three, Viessmann Vitoden WB2B condensing boilers and a 120-gallon domestic hot water storage tank. After the first full year of operation, the hot water heating system had a 37% reduction while the domestic hot water had a 61% reduction in consumption.

This yielded an overall 42% savings ($10,345) in natural gas consumption for the first full year of operation. Full federal and provincial incentives were obtained.

2000 St. Mary's Rd Apartments
Multi-Unit Residential Building
Energy Simulation

2000 St. Mary's Rd Apartments were seeking financial incentive from Manitoba Hydro's Power Smart program, and thus had to meet fairly aggressive energy targets (which is especially difficult in a mulit-unit residential project which often has financial budget constraints, with much energy use uncontrollable when left with tenant). With this incentive, there was much emphasis on the energy performance and the submission deadline, requiring much collaboration between owner, engineers, equipment suppliers and modeller.

Service completion: Spring 2012
Scope of services: Energy Simulation for Manitoba Hydro Power Smart Program
Size: $29,000,000 construction budget
Building systems: Combination wood and metal framed envelope with curtainwall, variable refrigerant flow suite heating and cooling with central make-up air units, efficient lighting with occupancy sensor control in parkade

The initial challenge in this model was to find an appropriate way to model the proposed variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system. The VRF system supplier provided EnergyPro software which, even though it was created to model a VRF system, was initially intended for temperate regions...not the freezing winters of Winnipeg. However, Thurston Engineering Services troubleshot the software with the VRF equipment supplier and the programmers in California and, after much back and forth, workarounds were created to model a separate ventilation system required to warm freezing outdoor air (and other design elements not often required in temperate regions), leaving all involved with a thorough understanding of the software.

Finally, the teamwork required to work out the modeling software bugs while providing reliable results to the building owner and consultants was tireless, but worth it. In the end, full incentive was achieved at 35% better than ASHRAE 2007 with respect to energy units.

"You did an awesome job and we're very happy with your services. When we go to the next phases and if the program is still available, we will of course bring the team back together." - Owner, 2000 St. Mary's Rd Apartments