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A Passion for Excellence.

Our passion is a recognized achievement that relates to both our clients and our employees.



Building owners are becoming more energy conscious than ever.  Design teams have been challenged to come up with new and innovative designs that consume little to no energy (Zero Energy Buildings).  VBFA recently had the opportunity to design two Zero Energy Fire Stations for Salt Lake City.

The HVAC mechanical design included high-efficiency, water-to-water heat pumps coupled with a ground source heat exchanger.  The heat pumps provided hot water, chilled water, and domestic water for the building demand needs.  Energy recovery technology was utilized to minimize energy consumption to treat the required outside air.  Solar PV arrays were designed to offset the electrical consumption of the all-electric mechanical system.

Utilizing high-efficiency, water-to-water heat pumps coupled with a ground source heat exchanger, an energy recovery system, solar PV arrays, a high-performance building envelope, etc., the design team was able to achieve the Zero Energy performance for both Fire Stations. Salt Lake City Fire Station No. 14 was the nation’s first Zero Energy Fire Station, and has been recognized through several awards since its completion.

Jacob Beck, P.E.
Associate Principal Mechanical Engineer


When VBFA was challenged to come up with the most efficient mechanical system, we had to look beyond the typical mechanical systems that had been used in the industry to come up with an innovative solution. After determining what uses energy in a building, we used a holistic approach to find reductions in every energy use category. By combining various efficient technologies into a single building system we were able to reduce energy use in all HVAC categories. Four of the reliable, energy-efficient technologies we used combined to provide an innovative, highly-efficient mechanical system.

Ground Source Heat:
Drawing from our vast experience with ground source heating and cooling, we decided to apply ground source heat at a central system level in lieu of the conventional unitary units. Utilizing ground source fluid-to-fluid heat pumps to heat hot water for the building (replacing gas boiler heat) opened the door for many central system energy saving and maintenance advantages.

Thermal Displacement Ventilation (TDV):
We have successfully applied TDV on many projects, with particular success in K-12 classrooms. TDV was selected for the superior ventilation effectiveness it brings, but many other energy benefits come along for the ride.

Indirect/Direct Evaporative Cooling:
IDEC has been successfully applied in the local climate for more than 25 years. When IDEC is combined with TDV, mechanical cooling is almost eliminated.

Energy Recovery of Building Exhaust Air (ERV):
ERV’s have been widely used as a necessity for pre-tempering outside air on unitary heat pump systems and VRF systems. VBFA utilized this technology in central air handling units for heating mode only to pre-heat ventilation outside air.

Wade Bennion, P.E.
Principal Mechanical Engineer


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