Trane TRACE™ 700 Team Wins with Teamwork!

ASHRAE Building Energy Modeling Conference Design Competition

ASHRAE LowDown Showdown Competition 

Congratulations to Team TRACE 700 which won the “Best Teamwork” award in the brand new ASHRAE LowDown Showdown modeling challenge.

The competition, new to the ASHRAE Building Energy Modeling Conference, showcased the work of several teams competing to model a net zero or below building. The teams, coached by different software vendors, were given a set of design criteria and had roughly three months to design the building and create an energy model to show net zero.

The requirements consisted of a three-story office building that was 53,600 square feet with a building energy performance better than ASHRAE 90.1-2010. The requirements did not define a specific site, building location, space layout or architecture. The resulting building design was then judged by conference participants based on energy efficiency, design creativity, workflow innovation, teamwork and collaboration.

Each team presented their building design at the conference. Below are the unofficial results.

Team Autodesk 
• Location: San Diego, CA 
• Energy Use Before Renewables: 22 kBtu/ft² /yr
• Energy Use After Renewables: -18 kBtu/ft² /yr

Team EQuest 
• Location: San Jose, CA 
• Energy Use Before Renewables: 24 kBtu/ft²/yr 
• Energy Use After Renewables: 0 kBtu/ft² /yr

Team Carrier HAP 
• Location: San Francisco, CA 
• Energy Use Before Renewables: 21 kBtu/ft²/yr
• Energy Use After Renewables: -5 kBtu/ft²/yr

Team Design Builder 
• Location: Pittsburgh, PA 
• Energy Use Before Renewables: 17 kBtu/ft² /yr
• Energy Use After Renewables: Slightly net negative/yr

Team EnergyPlus 
• Location: Atlanta, GA 
• Energy Use Before Renewables: 18 kBtu/ft² /yr
• Energy Use After Renewables: 1 kBtu/ft² /yr

Team IES 
• Location: Boulder, CO 
• Energy Use Before Renewables: 22 kBtu/ft² /yr
• Energy Use After Renewables: -2.6 kBtu/ft²/yr

Team Sefaira 
• Location: Chicago, IL 
• Energy Use Before Renewables: 36 kBtu/ft² /yr
• Energy Use After Renewables: 2.3 kBtu/ft² /yr

• Location: St. Louis, MO 
• Energy Use Before Renewables: 14 kBtu/ft² /yr
• Energy Use After Renewables: -1.2kBtu/ft²/yr

Team TRACE 700, coached by several members of Trane C.D.S, designed an office building that would be typical in new construction today. The team wanted a real challenge for designing a net-zero building, so they set their building location to be in St. Louis, Missouri due to the wide range of annual weather extremes as well as balance between heating and cooling degree days.

Team TRACE 700 Office Building Design

Teame TRACE 700 Office Building Model

From a mechanical system design perspective, Trane distributed variable-speed water-source heat pumps with an optimized dedicated outdoor system was selected. The equipment was tied to an enhanced hybrid geothermal loop uniquely designed to balance the heating and cooling loads over a 20 year period and reduce the well field cost by more than 50 percent. In addition to the efficient HVAC systems, the inclusion of low-speed, large-diameter fans, LED lighting, and efficient process/non-process equipment helped reduce the building energy usage even further.

20 Year Greensleeves Geothermal Earth Temperature Simulation


To achieve net-zero, the building design included PV solar panels to offset the remaining site energy (and actually produce more energy than what was being used at the building location).

LED Lighting Analysis - One of Several ECMs Implemented

LED Lighting Analysis

Due to their excellent collaboration and ability to leverage vast systems knowledge and industry experience, the TRACE 700 team won the award for “Best Teamwork.” It’s also noteworthy that the TRACE 700 team achieved the highest energy efficiency performance of all the competitors before applying renewable technologies in one of the toughest weather environments selected. This clearly demonstrated the team’s innovative ability to optimize the building design while minimizing project cost.

Team TRACE 700 ECM Strategy


The team consisted of engineers and energy modelers. Despite the absence of an architect there was no limit on the team’s creativity. The team made up for lack of costly building design aesthetics with a holistic approach to integrated energy conservation measures (ECMs) reclaiming energy wherever possible. The main goal was to demonstrate that even a typical building mechanical system and envelope design can lead to a net-zero building.

Congratulations to Team TRACE 700 and all of the teams involved in the competition!

Trane TRACE 700 team - ECM strategies

Team TRACE members (left to right): Christian Taber (Big Ass Fans), Sean Beilman (BCER Group), Kit Fransen (Trane C.D.S. Customer Training Manager), Kirk Glazer (Griffith Engineering), Mariah Schwartz (Whole Building Systems), Matt Biesterveld (C.D.S. Manager), Jim Spielbauer (Trane Development Engineer), Nagappan Chidambaram (Trane Development Engineer). Not pictured is Brittany Adam (Big Ass Fans).

The team wishes to thank the following contributors for their help implementing the project ECMs:

Optimized geothermal well field design:
Steven Hamstra – President, Greensleeves,  P.E., AEE FELLOW, CGD, LEED AP, ASHRAE HBDP

Ross Ulburg – Applications Engineer, Greensleeves

LED lighting:
Isaac Fedyniak – Electrical Engineer, Big Ass Fans,  PE, LEED AP, CEM, NABCEP PV

Variable-speed water-source heat pumps and dedicated outdoor air units:
John Murphy – Trane Applications Engineer, ASHRAE Fellow, LEED® AP BD+C

Machine room-less (MRL) regenerative elevator:
Steve McIntosh - Kone Elevator