Geothermal Redesign of the Gaige Building at Penn State Berks

Open Access
Neal, Matthew Todd
Area of Honors:
Architectural Engineering
Bachelor of Architectural Engineering
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Stephen James Treado, Thesis Supervisor
  • Richard George Mistrick, Honors Advisor
  • Architectural
  • Engineering
  • Geothermal
  • Acoustics
  • Mechanical
  • Heat
  • Pumps
  • HVAC
  • Reverberation
  • Time
  • Transmission
  • Loss
The Gaige Building is located in Reading, PA on the Penn State Berks campus. It has a classroom, office, and lab type occupancy, and is LEED Gold certified. For my senior thesis project, I conducted an extensive analysis of the current design of the Gaige Building, and from that analysis developed several alternatives to potentially improve the current mechanical system in the building. A model of the Gaige Building was constructed in Trace 700, an hourly analysis energy modeling program, and the results from this model were validated against actual energy consumption data from the Gaige Building. Then, a newly designed geothermal system was implemented into the current design of the Gaige Building. Sizing requirements of the geothermal loops were determined for both vertical and horizontal loop designs, and another Trace 700 energy model implemented the new geothermal system. The success of the geothermal system was then evaluated by comparing the emissions from the original and geothermal model, along with a life-cycle costs analysis weighing the increased first costs of the geothermal system against the annual energy savings. Both the horizontal and vertical loop systems decreased annual pollutant emissions by roughly 2.0 %, and the horizontal and vertical loop systems had a discounted payback period of 6.13 and 12.7 years respectively. Another analysis was then performed to determine if implementing a campus wide geothermal system would be feasible. The well field was sized and designed for the campus system, and a block load energy model was created and validated with actual energy consumption data from utility billing information. The campus wide system was found to decrease annual emission by 27 %, but did not offer a reasonable payback period over the life of the system. Finally, an acoustical analysis of the Gaige Building was conducted, showing that the classrooms within the building are in accordance with the classroom acoustics standard, except for some poor transmission loss and standard transmission coefficient ratings for unsealed partitions on the second floor. Heat pump locations were also analyzed to determine a layout that would not negatively impact the background noise levels of the office and classroom spaces within the Gaige Building.