Design Brief: Design Details

July 1, 2002
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Table of ContentsIn a typical building, providing design details can save an owner approximately 5% - 15% in energy costs.

Building owners are spending more money on complex building systems than ever before and yet many find they have building system problems. Providing design details on construction documents can reduce these problems and save money. Design details increase the likelihood that designs will be correctly implemented in the field, reducing change orders and saving first costs. Using design details to specify an optimized system can also save energy and other operating costs.

For example, it is not uncommon for the connection between a duct and a supply plenum to be shown as a square (representing the plenum) with a line connected to it (representing the duct). A literal interpretation of this connection may result in a fitting with significant pressure loss. However, a simple expansion of the duct at the connection point by a bellmouth fitting can cut this pressure loss by 50% or more. This can translate into hundreds of dollars in annual energy savings for numerous fittings in a large air handling system. Attention to design details can improve performance and efficiency in almost all aspects of a design. Design details are particularly important for:

  • Piping and duct arrangements that minimize the number of fittings and bends.
  • Pipe and duct fittings that minimize frictional losses.
  • Fan and pump discharge conditions that minimize losses.

Although the energy savings for each detail may be small, the combined effects in a commercial building are significant. In a typical building, providing design details can save an owner approximately 5 to 15% in energy costs.

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