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Environmental Control Systems and Lab

Number: BCT 521
Credits: 4
Format: In person, Amherst

Semester: Spring
Meeting Times: Tue/Thu 11:30 - 12:45 & Tue 4:00 - 4:50 & Tue 4:00 - 4:50
Room: Olver Design Building 162

LMS Link


L. Carl Fiocchi,
Ph.D., M.Arch., B.A.

SR. Lecturer & Chief Professional Masters Advisor

Office: Olver Design Building 337
Phone: +1 (413) 545-1866

Office Hours | Faculty Page | LinkedIn

Course Description

This course is intended for those who wish to build on building technology and physics fundamentals and learn about active building energy and environmental systems from a both a traditional and a sustainable design perspective. Students will be introduced to the basics of active HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and plumbing systems as well as being exposed to the fundamentals of domestic water supply and distribution as well as wastewater and sewage systems Through a combination of lecture, reading materials, guest lectures, and field trips they will analyze and calculate elements that control the disposition of energy in buildings and learn how to introduce various systems into existing buildings and design these systems for high performance building. The lab component for this class introduces students to technical and non-technical aspects of whole building energy simulation during building design, retrofitting and maintenance. Students will learn to use a state-of-the-art building energy modeling tool, eQUEST (available for free from Department of Energy) to calculate and optimize whole building energy loads. The goal is to explore key design decisions such as building orientation and form along with system choices to calculate heating, cooling, and electrical loads through modeling and simulation. Pre-requisite: BCT 520 or ARCH 520

Learning Goals

  • Understand the historical evolution of mechanical systems present in our buildings.
  • Understand the mechanics of active mechanical systems present in buildings
  • Understand the multiple parameters that can be applied to the building’s systems in order to reduce the building’s energy consumption and improve Occupant Comfort.
  • Understand the calculations necessary to evaluate conductive gains/losses, air leakage gains/losses, solar gains/ losses both above and below grade as they relate to heating and cooling.
  • Understand the technical aspects of plumbing systems.
  • Gain awareness of the multitude of possibilities and technologies that are on the horizon which will favorably impact a building’s energy consumption.
  • Gain awareness of the substantial (40%) contribution that the operational energy consumed by the building’s system impacts the Global Climate.
  • Gain additional familiarity with "Construction Language”.
  • Gain familiarity with energy modeling software, eQUEST.


Grondzik, Walter T. & Kwok, Alison G., “Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings, 13th Edition”, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2019. ISBN13: 978-1119463085 You must have access to a laptop for the lab.


521 Syllabus 2023    

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