HVAC design at Ascent begins with a collaborative effort to determine the most appropriate system for each project.  We enter into the design process with the understanding that every project is different and each client has a unique set of priorities.  Our design experience encompasses a broad spectrum ranging from large central campus distribution systems to the renovation of a single classroom.  Some of our specialties include central plant systems (steam, chilled water, and heating water), building design, building renovations, industrial ventilation, indoor air quality, engineering analysis of existing systems, energy studies and analysis, energy modeling, building automation systems/energy management systems, geothermal systems, thermal storage, sustainable design, LEED certification, life cycle cost analysis, code analysis, and cost estimating.


At Ascent Engineering Group, our electrical engineers bring years of experience to the design of every aspect of a facility’s electrical system.  We design and specify complete power distribution systems from the power company’s service entrance down to each individual branch circuit including all distribution equipment such as switchboards, panelboards, transformers, etc.  We also have proficiency in grounding and protection systems including surge protective devices (SPDs) and lightning protection systems.  Emergency/standby power distribution is a specialty as well from engine generator sets and automatic transfer switches (ATS) to central battery inverter systems and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).

Lighting design is a particular area of expertise. We provide complete lighting systems for any facility in our major project areas, both interior and exterior ranging from theatrical lighting to sportslighting for athletic competition.  We have a wide range of knowledge in all types of lighting from HID to LED and use computer software to model the photometric performance of our designs.  We then pair the choice of lighting with appropriate lighting controls from manual switching to fully automated building wide lighting control systems for a complete lighting system design.

We bring a thorough knowledge of all applicable codes and standards such as the National Electrical Code, International Building Code, International Energy Conservation Code, ASHRAE, IESNA Lighting Handbook, ADA, etc., to everything we do.   All parts of the electrical design are performed with the core principle of meeting and exceeding the operational, maintenance, energy usage and budget goals of our clients.


We offer customer-centered plumbing systems engineering, design, construction documents, and construction administration for commercial, educational, institutional, health care, food service, and residential facilities that comply with all international and local plumbing and health codes and owner preferences.  The following systems are often included in our projects: Domestic water distribution, sanitary waste and vent, chemical waste, vent, and neutralization, storm water management, domestic hot water storage, heating, and distribution, natural and LP gas distribution, plumbing equipment and fixture selection and specification, medical gas piping, vacuum, and air distribution, water conservation strategies and system design including low flow and waterless fixture selection, storm water collection and storage, gray water and rain water distribution for irrigation and building use, solar hot water generation, and full LEED support documentation, calculations, and services,  as well as other types of plumbing specialty systems.

Fire Protection

We offer customer-centered sprinkler systems engineering, design, construction documents, and construction administration for commercial, educational, institutional, health care and food service facilities that comply with all international and local sprinkler/life safety codes, and owner preferences.  The following systems are often included in our projects: Wet sprinkler systems, dry sprinkler systems, standpipe systems, chemical agent and mist systems. Design can include complete layouts, fire pump design, hydraulic analysis, hydraulic calculations, drawings and specifications.

Information Technology

Our technology specialists have performed Design and Construction Administrative Services for all of our major project areas.  All systems can be designed to operate over copper, coax, fiber-optic, and wireless infrastructures, disseminating information over high-speed electronic switches, routers and a variety of data circuits.  We coordinate between the Owner System/Technology Department/End Users/Installing Trades to ensure compatibility of software and equipment operation over the different systems and cabling infrastructure to achieve the IEEE Standards.  We design our systems with flexibility to handle emerging technologies.  Major technology areas include the following: voice systems, audio/video systems, intra-building communication systems, security systems, data & local area network (LAN) systems, wide area voice & data systems, and building automation systems.


 There is an old saying that knowledge equals power.  At Ascent, we like to put the power back in our clients’ hands by offering commissioning services.  This provides our clients with the system knowledge necessary to achieve powerful savings.  Our clients get to see where their systems have strengths and weaknesses, and then choose the best way to use their money to maximize efficiency. Ascent is uniquely qualified for LEED commissioning.  Our Commissioning Department is led by a Professional Engineer experienced in design, construction administration and commissioning.  We have been extensively involved in verifying correct system operation since long before commissioning was appreciated as it is in today’s current market.


  • Audio/Video/Audio Visual Systems
  • Building Automation (EMS) Systems
  • Building Renovations
  • Closed Circuit Television
  • Commissioning
  • Economic Evaluations
  • Electrical Power
  • Energy Management/Conservation
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Fire/Security/Alarm Systems
  • Fire Protection
  • Heating/Ventilating/Air Conditioning
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Intra-Building Communications System
  • Lighting Consultation
  • Media Retrieval Systems
  • Plumbing- Pre-Planning Studies
  • Process Piping
  • Refrigeration
  • Solar Energy Utilization
  • Sound Reinforcement Systems
  • Thermal Storage
  • Underground Storage Tanks
  • Utilities
  • WAN/LAN/WLAN Systems


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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)


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