Designing for Sustainability in Extreme Climates

Here are some considerations for designing mechanical systems for properties in remote/climate-sensitive locations, meanwhile achieving the energy savings needed to accommodate sustainability goals, such as in our Gunnison County Library project.

• Utilizing a geothermal system allows for an all-electric system without having to deal with the extreme low temperatures as a source for heat-pump heat.

• Energy modeling is critical when designing a geothermal system not only to size the bore field but to ensure that the heating and cooling loads are sufficiently balanced to mitigate long-term ground temperature drift.

• In environments such as this with year-round intense sun and heating dominant loads, exploring different glazing locations and characteristics is important as sometimes glass that allows more solar load in, while increasing the cooling load, will decrease the heating load, and may increase the overall efficiency of the building.

• Incorporating energy recovery for ventilation is key in mitigating the energy associated with bringing in fresh air during very cold temperatures, especially when utilizing an all-electric system.

Read more about the integrated design team approach here: Colorado-Real-Estate-Journal_330353 (


Exterior view of Gunnison County Library