Archive for October, 2010

What is a water-source heat pump?

Posted in Design, Green on October 22, 2010 by Cyrk Building

Geothermal heat pumps (sometimes referred to as GeoExchange, earth-coupled, ground-source, or water-source heat pumps) have been in use since the late 1940s. Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) use the constant temperature of the earth as the exchange medium instead of the outside air temperature. This allows the system to reach fairly high efficiencies.

While many parts of the country experience seasonal temperature extremes—from scorching heat in the summer to sub-zero cold in the winter—a few feet below the earth’s surface the ground remains at a relatively constant temperature.  Like a cave, this ground temperature is warmer than the air above it during the winter and cooler than the air in the summer. The GHP takes advantage of this by exchanging heat with the earth through a ground heat exchanger.    Also, these systems use groundwater but are ‘nonconsumptive’, i.e. they re-inject all of the groundwater used back into the ground with only a slight temperature change typically of  2 to 6 degrees. 

Even though the installation price of a geothermal system can be several times that of an air-source system of the same heating and cooling capacity, the additional costs are returned to you in energy savings in 5–10 years. System life is estimated at 25 years for the inside components and 50+ years for the ground loop. There are approximately 50,000 geothermal heat pumps installed in the United States each year.

Interesting facts regarding open loop systems and Oregon include: 

Portland has the oldest continuously operating open-loop system in the western hemisphere.  It is in the Commonweath Building downtown and was constructed in 1948.  It is now a national historic mechanical engineering landmark.

 The Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) in Klamath Falls, is a leader in geothermal energy education and use.  They heat the campus with natural hot water and will soon be generating electricity as well. 

(Sources www.energysavers.gov and Roger Smith, Hydrogeologist)

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Playing in the dirt

Posted in Fun on October 14, 2010 by Cyrk Building

Tonight we celebrated the warm fall night by playing in the dirt at Cyrk.

An introduction

Posted in Building, Construction, Design, Green on October 7, 2010 by Cyrk Building

Rendering of Cyrk Building's north side

Groundbreaking for our new building at SE 20th and Clinton is finally starting.  Cyrk Building will be a live-work with residential space on the second floor and office and retail space on the first floor.  A basement will provide underground parking and room for the leading edge mechanical systems that will operate the building.  Additional tenant retail space will face Clinton Street.  Cyrk will be 14,500 square feet and at just two stories, the height of the roof will be about 26 ½ feet.   

Targeted to achieve LEED Platinum certification, sustainable features include an extremely well-insulated building envelope, vegetative roofs and a 26 kWp photovoltaic array. In fact, the building will be so energy efficient that it is expected to produce enough electricity to provide over 90% of the building’s total power needs.

Additionally, heating and cooling with a water source heat pump will provide significant energy savings over conventional HVAC systems. The system taps into an abundant aquifer that runs throughout most of inner Southeast Portland and is conveniently located only 23 feet below the site. This underground water body serves as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer, creating significant energy and cost savings over the life of the building.  As rainwater is channeled to the aquifer, it will be used for toilets, laundry and irrigation.