Ross & Baruzzini Gives Back: Watson Transitional Home for Veterans

Ross & Baruzzini has been involved in architectural and engineering projects for US Veterans for over 30 years and is pleased to contribute to the Cissell Mueller Construction, Inc. design-build team for the Watson Transitional Home for Veterans in St. Peters, Missouri being developed by St. Clairs Hearts Foundation.

The historic two story+ building on Main Street will be renovated and brought up to current codes and standards as a facility that provides a home for Veterans to live for up-to a year while gaining employment in the region. The facility features an activity room, kitchen, dining and bedroom accommodations as well as a screened porch and detached workshop. The brick building was constructed as a residence and drug store in the 1870s’s and the intent is to maintain the historic character of the building.

The goal for this worthy cause is to have the facility operational by the end of 2018.

In-Situ Fan Curve Calibration in VAV Systems

Airflow measurements can be challenging and costly to obtain with physical meters installed in air handling units (AHUs). In addition, variable air volume (VAV) systems present a number of additional complexities for airflow measurements if compared to simpler constant air volume (CAV) systems.

The varying flow in VAV systems allows airflow velocities to drop at the transition Reynolds number regime during the partial load operation. This causes the velocity profile across traverse locations for airflow measurements to be non-uniform and out of compliance with ASHRAE Standard 111-2008 provisions for accurate airflow measurement.

Typical pitot-tube arrangements are proven to be inaccurate at low flow velocities. Additionally, a large number of sampling points are required if Log-T or Equal Area methods for traverse airflow measurement are followed. Moreover, industry common practice is to record each sampling point for 2 to 3 seconds to obtain a weighted average. All these factors contribute to the addition of uncertainties that will make it difficult to achieve the ASHRAE Std. 111-2008 requirement of +/-5% total uncertainty.


Research projects have been developed to show how the indirect measurement of airflow is possible. The intent of virtual airflow sensor technology is to rely on measured variables like fan power, head, and speed to obtain accurate airflow measurements. This method intends to take advantage of existing building automated systems (BAS) to calculate airflows based on already existing data outputs. Then, with programmed equations, airflow measurements can be obtained in real-time, bringing with them many benefits like real-time fault detection, energy-efficient operation, constant pressurization monitoring, etc.

Nonetheless, the equation to be programmed into the BAS needs some calibration coefficients due to the uniqueness of each system operation. In consequence, a calibration procedure needs to be developed to physically measure airflow for the entire operational range of a VAV system. This can be a challenging task as current testing, adjusting, and balancing (TAB) techniques are aimed at CAV systems. Taking a large number of points for the complete operating range of a VAV system can be impractical.


1.  Increasing sampling time to reduce oscillation impacts on velocity measurements

To ensure that the measuring device is well fixed in its position and that measurements can be recorded for an extended period of time are a necessity. In order to perform these actions, a holding bracket for velocity probes is invented and an airflow measurement device kit with data recording capability is assembled.

Extended periods of measurement tests showed that 60 seconds is the ideal time sampling period for airflow velocity measurements. With a 60 seconds interval, the 99.7% confidence interval of the weighted average for airflow velocity readings showed to narrow down 7.6 times when compared to 1-second measurements.

2.  Reducing sampling locations yet maintaining acceptable accuracy of airflow measurement

Having ways to ensure fixed sampling points during 60 seconds and to override the VAV system operation for fixed fan speed allowed us to perform full Equal Area traverse airflow measurements over a wide operational range for the VAV AHU. However, it is not feasible to record multiple points along a single line with a single-point hot-wire probe anemometer. In consequence, ways of reducing the number of sampling points below the minimum of 25 per ASHRAE Std. 111-2008 are tested. As results showed, having a complete set of data with representative points over a wide range of operational airflow velocities allowed us to select 3-points from the Equal Area defined set of points. These 3-points can be picked in such a way that their average accurately represents the mean airflow velocity across the traverse section for the full operational range. The +/-5% criteria of ASHRAE Std. 111-2008 was used as a guide for validation of the airflow measurement.

3.  Synchronizing airflow measurements for both return air fan and supply air fan

The presence of both supply and return fans in AHUs increases the complexity of the airflow measurement calibration due to the varying pressures within the equipment chambers. However, a calibration procedure was developed, varying speeds for supply and return fans to survey the full range of pressures achievable in the AHU. Moreover, since a gap was observed between supply and return airflows, due to the air leakage on the positive pressure side (supply air ductwork), a correction factor for the supply air measurement was obtained by linear regression of sample points for zero pressure in the mixed air chamber of the AHU (i.e. the point where supply and return airflows for each fan are equal).


In-situ fan performance curves were obtained and compared to the manufacturer’s curves, remarking the need for this calibration to be performed. The resulting head vs airflow fan curves showed reduced performance for both fans. The large discrepancy between curves supports the necessity of the calibration procedure to obtain fan curve coefficients to be used for virtual airflow sensors implementation.


This work was presented as a Technical Paper1 for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Winter Conference in January of 2017. It is included in ASHRAE Transactions 2017 and it achieved the recognition as 2017 ASHRAE Technical Paper Award.

  1. Rivas Prieto, A., Thomas, W., Song, L., Wang, G. 2017. In-Situ Fan Curve Calibration for Virtual Airflow Sensor Implementation in VAV Systems. ASHRAE Transactions – ASHRAE Winter Conference (Vol. 123, pp. 215-229). ASHRAE Inc.

About the Author

Alejandro Rivas, EI, LEEP AP BD+C. Alejandro holds a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Oklahoma with a focus on HVAC systems and has over 7 years of experience as a mechanical designer. His portfolio includes healthcare, higher education, commercial, and housing projects, in which he enjoys not only providing solutions but to design building systems with a reliable approach in mind and aligning with architecture’s aesthetic vision.

Designing Modern Park Facilities Part 2 of 3: Urban vs Rural Park Planning – A/E and Landscape Architect Perspectives

Urban vs Rural Park Planning – A/E and Landscape Architect Perspectives

Engineers and landscape architects possess different skill sets, have different roles in project design, and may have fundamentally different approaches to problem-solving. But, when working together, these differences make projects better by achieving a collaborative, holistic view resulting in the best overall solution for owners/clients. A recent discussion with local landscape architect, SWT Design, revealed that both parties were in agreement when it comes to the social and environmental considerations for modern urban and rural park facility designs. To take a closer look at some of these social and environmental factors, we broke them down into three categories:

1) Activity Trends

2) Pros and Cons of Athletic Pieces

3) Population Statistics.

Activity Trends

From SWT’s perspective, one of the top leading trends for urban parks is providing opportunities to connect visitors, and children in particular, with nature. This is seen most often in the design of “nature play” experiences where natural or manufactured materials are designed to replicate nature and are the focus of playground design. In addition to the play experience, opportunities to bring natural resources into the parks as passive recreation amenities are another way urban parks connect visitors with nature. From the architectural and engineering side, Ross & Baruzzini has witnessed a strong trend towards more team sport activity spaces and ride/walk trails to draw more visitors to urban parks.

Driving trends for destination parks in rural communities also include the conservation of open space/natural resources and regional sports destination complexes. Both are driven by the availability of open space and the opportunity to secure large or multiple parcels. Both firms agree that as regional athletic complex destinations, rural parks can promote economic gain by drawing visitors from outside the community.

Pro and Con of Athletic Pieces

Both firms agreed that the type of athletic piece in an urban park can impact the pros/cons but, in general, pros include providing a safe location for the community to gather and participate in athletic events. These pieces also allow for high park usage during community-sponsored leagues or special events. The cons are that open space in an urban environment may be at a premium. Dedicating a significant percentage of a park to a specific event can significantly limit the overall recreation value a park may bring to a community.

Unlike its urban counterpart, athletic pieces in rural parks usually provide one or more activities within the park.  These elements can provide locations for large groups to gather and for community-run leagues or special programming. A con to these facilities can be the lack of demand for these elements outside of leagues or special events since open green space or sports for informal play is typically available in new housing. Athletic facilities can also require a high level of maintenance to support the locations for athletic events. Ross & Baruzzini agreed that in-park athletics can allow increased usage across a wide segment of the population, but added that population density in rural areas may not be conducive to high usage.

Population Statistics

SWT stated that the most important role that population statistics can play in a park is to provide an understanding of the community makeup.  For example, areas with significant population growth may be a priority area of the city for a new park. In areas with young families, consideration of playgrounds and open play lawns may be appropriate whereas walking trails and fitness stations may be considered in parks near aging populations. Ross & Baruzzini identified that age groups were a big determination when planning an urban park. A public engagement process can also help determine community needs and desires.  This information reveals age, ethnic and financial diversity within the community and ensures the entire community has the opportunity to voice their opinion.

Rural considerations are similar to urban parks when it comes to ensuring the community has a voice in park development, but in rural conditions, the diversity may tend to be less extensive than in urban locations.  Rural park development may tend to be focused more on projected growth within the community or expansion of the community as indicators for future park development. Ross & Baruzzini identified that rural park design is more successful when park amenities are aimed at a young to middle-aged population.

When pressed for the most important social and environmental factors to park design, SWT was a little hesitant to pick just one, stipulating that site/location, the role of the park within the overall parks system, community needs/desires, and ability to maintain the park as equal factors for both urban and rural parks. However, when push came to shove, they stated that the park site itself was a single driver that can have the greatest impact on all the others. Ross & Baruzzini weighed in that location to a centralized population was the most important factor for an urban park, and that destination activity are a top priority when considering rural park design.

About the Authors:

Jay Wohlschlaeger, PLA, ASLA: For 20 years, Jay has cultivated a portfolio at SWT within the public sector, particularly in the parks and recreation industry, from the district and countywide master plans to individually built community parks. His success is directly tied to a community-focused process, a partnership that listens to the needs of municipalities and their residents, and works closely with them from project initiation through construction completion. In doing so, Jay and our team can directly address a city’s concerns and provide both short and long-term recommendations for parks systems, facilities, and trail networks.

Brad Pierce, AIA: With 34 years of professional experience, Brad is responsible for all aspects of architectural design at Ross & Baruzzini and has intimate knowledge of the design of various park facilities. His broad range of experience with highly technical projects includes site selection, project planning, focus group-based design, financial aspects, and considerations when developing park features, he has been actively involved in large-scale parks to vest pocket parks with various amenities including visitor’s centers, interpretive centers, activity centers, museums, athletic fields, multipurpose event structures.

Stay tuned for part three of this three-part park series which will focus on what makes a park memorable – trends in Parkitecture. Check out part one on our blog.

Making a Difference with JA in a Day

Junior Achievement has been making an impact in students’ lives since 1919 when it was founded by Theodore Vale, president of AT&T, Horace Moses, president of Strathmore Paper Co., and Senator Murray Crane of Massachusetts. 

What is Junior Achievement? Junior Achievement is a non-profit youth organization that offers volunteer-delivered K-12 programs fostering work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills. The organization reaches more than 4.8 million students per year in the classroom and after-school locations.

Their purpose is to inspire and prepare our young people to succeed in a global economy by providing them with the knowledge and skills needed for economic success, planning for the future, and making smart economic choices. Statistics show that:

  • 20% of U.S. students will not complete high school on time and earn a diploma
  • 49% of U.S. employers recognize that talent shortages impact their ability to serve clients and customers
  • 36% of Americans say that they have at some point in their lives felt their financial situation was out of control.
  • 91% of millennials wish they had greater access to entrepreneurial education programs.

For the past seven years, CAGE has been a part of JA in a Day, one of the many programs offered through Junior Achievement. This one-day event is a great way to serve the community while creating a team-building experience. Not to mention, the teachers get a respite and see the benefits of having a business professional in their classrooms.

Two CAGE Team Members share their insight on what volunteering for the organization means to them.

Sarah Ontiveros, HR Manager

When did you first get involved with Junior Achievement and the JA in a Day Program?

I was first introduced to JA in a Day through the CAGE Cares Foundation back in 2012. The Foundation had already adopted Keyes Elementary, a school located very near our office in Irving, Texas. It was through the school that we learned about JA in a Day and how much it meant to the teachers and students.  So, it was then that we decided to begin volunteering. CAGE had also been supporting our local Junior Achievement through donations.

So, you volunteered at Keyes Elementary, what has the experience meant to you?

I look forward to it every year and just love it!  The experience is so rewarding. You walk in and the kids just brighten your day.  

What is the time commitment?  Our lives are so busy, how long does it take for you to prepare?

After participating for so many years, preparation takes very little time. The materials and curriculum are provided by our local Junior Achievement Chapter and sent directly to our office. An hour planning session is scheduled for the entire team of volunteers a week before the day where we walk through the curriculum and organize the supplies. From that time forward, it’s just a matter of becoming familiar with the materials prior to the actual volunteer day. 

By the end of the day you’re a Rock Star and can’t leave without a hug from each kid.” -Sarah Ontiveros

Can you give our readers an idea of what a typical day is like?

All the volunteers gather together for a brief orientation prior to going to the classroom.  One of the students from the school will then escort you to the room where you will meet the teacher and discuss the day.  Materials are gathered together, introductions are made and then you get started on the curriculum.  When the kids get overly excited, we might play a game like Simon Says or do some exercises.  By the end of the day, you’re a Rock Star and can’t leave without a hug from each kid.

What are some of the challenges you have?

One of the most challenging aspects is trying to make sure the kids stay excited and I worry they won’t have a good time.  I always make sure I thank the teacher for what they do. At the end of the day, I’m completely worn out.  It’s hard to imagine doing that every day.

Who benefits from JA in a Day and how impactful do you think it is?

Students learn life skills related to money, education, and how important it is to go to school and stay in school.  Volunteering is so rewarding.  Just being with the kids and seeing how they benefit makes me feel so good—I just might be making a difference in their lives.

Why is this program so important to our community?

It teaches financial management and education outside their normal curriculum in a fun way.  The program also promotes future entrepreneurship.

Daniel Merritt, Assistant Controller

When did you first get involved with Junior Achievement and the JA in a Day Program?

Seven years ago, when the opportunity was first offered. 

So, you volunteered at Keyes Elementary, what has the experience meant to you?

I have a much greater appreciation for our teachers.  It’s amazing how Keyes Elementary is in a lower socio-economic part of town, but the kids are so respectful and orderly that you would think that it is a private school.

What is the time commitment?  Our lives are so busy, how long does it take for you to prepare?

For me, it is typically a one-day prep.  It took more time in the beginning, but now, after doing it for so long, it takes about an hour and a half of preplanning and then completing name tags and the certificates they receive ahead of time.

Can you give our readers an idea of what a typical day is like?

We arrive at the school, meet with other JA volunteers for a brief welcome and then the kids take us to our assigned classroom.  Introductions are made and we begin the curriculum. There are 4-5 sections to go through. If the kids begin to get distracted, we’ll stop and play a game like Simon Says

I can honestly say that we go non-stop and it can be stressful because you worry whether the kids are enjoying the day.  You’re on stage the whole time and physically drained at the end of the day.  

Once we finish—it’s off to a well-earned Happy Hour!

What are some of the challenges you have?

Keyes Elementary has a very diverse student base where many of them speak Spanish – and I don’t. 

Another challenge is keeping them focused. Most are pretty good listeners, but hey, they are kindergartners.

Who benefits from JA in a Day and how impactful do you think it is?

Everyone benefits. The curriculum is about money management and future career/entrepreneurship.  Teachers get a break and the children have fun and maybe we make an impact in their lives. 

Why is this program so important to our community?

Because they are our future workforce and our corporate responsibility should be to nurture them so that they can be successful.  It also shows them that the workforce cares about them regardless of their circumstances.

To inspire future generations and for your chance at an amazing and rewarding volunteer experience, go to