High Performance, Innovative & Sustainable Building Design

We specialize in high-performance building systems design.  Founded in 1959, Ascent Engineering Group is able to bring the proper balance between proven design practices and innovative, cutting edge technologies.  This balance is unique to each client and project.  Ascent's desire is to exceed clients' expectations in every aspect of the process, including schedule, budget, and performance of systems.  While there is a large variety of system types in which Ascent has experience, each system delivered must be maintainable and sustainable for each respective client.  The below information provides a brief summary of different system types, energy conserving design techniques, in which Ascent Engineering Group has experience.

Building System Types

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Hybrid Geothermal Heat Pump System

Geothermal Central Plants

Variable Refrigerant Volume/Flow

Variable Air Volume

Reversible Chillers

Water-to Water Heat Pumps

Water-Cooled Chiller Plants

Air-Cooled Chiller Plants

High-Efficiency Condensing Boiler Plants

High-Efficiency Chiller Technologies (Magnetic Bearings and Variable Speed Compressors)

Thermal Storage

Ice Storage Systems

Chilled Beams

Radiant Cooling Systems

Radiant Heating Systems

Displacement Ventilation

Decoupled Dedicated Outside Air Systems

Variable Flow Lab Exhaust Systems

High Performance Data Centers

Energy Conserving Design Techniques Experience

Demand Control Ventilation

Air-To-Air Energy Recovery

Water-To-Water Energy Recovery

Airside Economizer

Waterside Economizer

Condenser Water Heat Recovery

Variable Speed Fans For Supply

Return And Exhaust Service

Variable Speed Pumping

Cooling Coil Condensate Recovery

Variable Primary Chilled Water Pumping

Variable Primary Heating Water Pumping

Critical Zone Pressure Reset Control of Fans and Pumps

Systems Optimized to Minimize Pump and Fan Energy

Site Recovered Energy for Dehumidification

Building Dashboard and Monitoring Systems

Building Commissioning

Solar Hot Water Heating

Siphonic Roof Drains

Rain Water Harvesting

Daylight Harvesting Controls

Photovoltaic Power Generation

Electrically Commutated Motors (ECM)

High Performance Facilities:- Case Studies:

Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Contemporary Art:  

The facility has been designed to maintain the rigorous indoor conditions necessary to achieve an environment suitable for the preservation of art and artifacts.  The mechanical systems utilize leading-edge technologies and equipment in combinations that are found in only the most advanced facilities.  A partial list of those technologies includes: 

  1. Heat recovery chillers are tied to a geothermal wellfield.  This allows heat otherwise wasted to the outside to be recovered for building heat, preheat of outside air, snowmelt systems, reflecting pool heat, and other uses.  The mass of the ground serves as thermal storage over the life of the system.
  2. Displacement ventilation has been incorporated to minimize the requirements for outside air and provide cooling to increase occupant comfort using lower fan energy.
  3. Radiant floor systems that can be used in either heating or cooling mode reduce fan energy and minimize the effect of solar loads on energy consumption.
  4. Heat exchangers preheat humidification make-up water using chiller waste heat reducing the amount of heat necessary to maintain preservation humidity levels.
  5. The operation of window shades is automated through the building automation system to reduce solar heat gains during summer operation.
  6. Rainwater harvesting systems provide non-potable water to flush toilets and urinals.

Libbie Mill Library:

Ascent recognizes that pioneering technology and cutting-edge equipment are not the best fit for every project.  However, we reject the notion that this precludes high performance operation.  Libbie Mill Library is just one example of how detail, innovation, and forward-thinking can create a high-performance building with conventional systems and friendly first-costs.  This project utilized a conventional four-pipe VAV system, but enhanced with the following measures: 

  1. LED lighting is provided almost exclusively within the building and allowed us to use 46% less energy to light the building than allowed by code.
  2. Controls have been put in place to verify operation of various sensors to notify the Owner of issues prior to occupant complaints and high utility bills.
  3. Exhaust fan operation is generally on\off with the building usage; however with simple controls we made the fans “smart” by providing additional communication to the fans.  Exhaust fans that provide mechanical room ventilation now vary their speed based on the temperature in the space.  The exhaust fan for the 3-D printer automatically turns on and off with the operation of the printer. 
  4. Demand control ventilation allows for each air handling unit to reset the outdoor air based on actual occupancy in the space. By reducing the outdoor air during periods of low occupancy, the building saves considerable energy.
  5. Multiple sensors in the building allow for monitoring of building energy use by category and allow that to be displayed on the building dashboard in an interactive format.
  6. Demand limiting control allows the building to reset temperature and “shed” load to minimize the impact of the electrical rate structure on the utility bills. A brief 1°-2°F change in space temperature can save thousands of dollars per year in utility bills.
  7. The operation of window shades is automated through the building automation system to reduce solar heat gains during summer operation.
  8. Air handlers were selected with the highest efficiency fans and coils available resulting in fan horsepower 54% less than that allowed by code.
  9. Radiant floor and baseboard heating systems reduce fan energy and minimize the effect of glazing on energy consumption.
  10. Hot water condensing boilers with efficiencies greater than 97% were utilized.  System design temperatures were chosen to maximize both the efficiency of the boiler and minimize the required pumping energy.
  11. Water cooled centrifugal chillers with magnetic bearings and variable speed compressors allowing for a much larger range of control and superior efficiencies.
  12. EUI or LEED energy savings:  By combining cost effective standard equipment with innovative controls, the building LEED energy model has predicted a 44.3% savings over the baseline model while keeping the project well within budget.

Partial List of Facilities Achieving Energy Star Designation:


ARCOLA ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

ASHBURN ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

BALL'S BLUFF ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

BELMONT STATION ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

BUFFALO TRAIL ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 

CARTER ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 

CEDAR LANE ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010

COOL SPRING ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 

COUNTRYSIDE ES - 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

CREIGHTON'S CORNER ES - 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 

CULBERT ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 

DOMINION TRAIL ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 

EVERGREEN MILL ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010 

FOREST GROVE ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 

HILLSIDE ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

HORIZON ES - 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010 

HUTCHISON FARM ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 

LEESBURG ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 

LEGACY ES - 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009 

LIBERTY ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 

LOWES ISLAND ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008 

MILL RUN ES - 2015, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

MOUNTAIN VIEW ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 

NEWTON-LEE ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, 2009 

PINEBROOK ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

POTOWMACK ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

REID ES - 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

ROUND HILL ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010 

SANDERS CORNER ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2009 

SELDENS LANDING ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

SYCOLIN CREEK ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 

TOLBERT ES - 2015, 2014, 2013

TUSCARORA HS - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

WELLER ES - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 

WOODGROVE HS - 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010



Abingdon, VA

Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center - Addition (LEED Gold)

Blacksburg, VA

Virginia Tech - Henderson Hall/Black Box Theatre (LEED Gold)

Buckingham County, VA

Buckingham County Administration Center (LEED Silver)

Charles County, MD

*Charles County High School #2

Charlottesville, VA

UVA Pavilion IX (LEED Certified)

Colonial Heights, VA

Colonial Heights Courthouse (LEED Silver)

Culpeper, VA

Eastern View High School - Registered LEED

Fluvanna, VA

Fluvanna County High School (LEED Silver)

Henrico County, VA

Gayton Library (LEED Silver)

*Libbie Mill Library

*Varina Library

Fairfax, VA

George Mason University - POV - LEED Design

Loudoun, VA

Kirkpatrick Farms Elementary School - LEED not implemented, but designed much of school for possible implementation

Loudoun County High School #3 - Implementing sustainable design features

Loudoun County Public Schools - LEED Study

Lynchburg, VA

Randolph Macon College - Brock Commons (LEED Silver)

Sandusky Middle School (LEED Certified)

Orange County, VA

Locust Grove Middle School (LEED Gold)

Petersburg, VA

Petersburg Library - LEED Commissioning (LEED Certified)

Richmond, VA

Franklin Federal Building - Commissioning (Pursuing LEED certification)

First Market Bank - LEED Commissioning

Moseley Architects Office Building - LEED Commissioning

University of Richmond - Weinstein Center (LEED Certified)

*VCU Institute for Contemporary Arts

626 East Broad Street Office Building - LEED Commissioning

W.M. Jordan Office Building - Addition, Commissioning (LEED Gold)

Roanoke, VA

Lanford Brothers Office Building - LEED Commissioning (LEED Silver)

Williamson Road Fire Station (LEED Gold)

Stafford, VA

Dixon-Smith Middle School (2008) - HVAC

Commissioning (Lighting controls and domestic hot water system in accordance with LEED)