Cincinnati’s Melink Corp. aims for zero-energy building in new HQ2

By: Bunnell Hill Construction/Schueler Group  and Melink Corporation

Commercial buildings and homes consume a tremendous amount of energy in the U.S. and represent a majority of our country’s carbon footprint. We need to achieve zero-energy on all new construction by the year 2030, and the millions of existing buildings by 2050.

Can we really achieve a zero-energy building? The answer is yes – and is being developed here in Milford, Ohio at Melink Corporation’s second headquarters. “When completed, the facility will not only double their office and manufacturing space, it will be one of the greenest buildings in the world, “ said Steve Melink, chairman and CEO at Melink Corporation. “It will serve as a model on how to design and construct affordable zero-energy buildings (ZEB) of the future.”

Bunnell Hill Construction (BHC, a division of Schueler Group) is the construction management firm for Melink’s HQ2 and it is working alongside KZF and Motz Engineering to complete the project. Project Manager for Bunnell Hill Construction, Dan Thomas said, “We are proud to be the builders of this facility, and it also represents the height of my own career.”

What can you do to make your own facility or building head down the path to zero energy?

The main energy source for Melink’s new building is the sun. The sun will naturally light the spaces inside, passively heat the building during the winter, and generate most of the electricity it needs for the HVAC system and other loads. In addition, as the sun traverses the sky every day, sensors will automatically close window shades to minimize the solar heat gain and air conditioning loads during the spring, summer, and fall.

Zero energy will also be achieved through the proper selection of materials for the building envelope. Precast concrete panels will absorb the sun’s energy during the day and release it at night. And extra insulation in the walls and roof will ensure that heat-flow into the building is minimized during the summer and heat-flow out of the building is minimized during the winter. This will help control the energy costs of heating and cooling the facility.

The windows and doors will have special glazing for the same purpose. The result will not only lower energy costs, but also ensure a healthy and comfortable work space for the Melink employees. Super-green buildings are as much about providing an optimal workplace so that occupants can be productive and happy, as they are about saving energy and water.

The most innovative feature of the building will be its HVAC system. It will use a rainwater cistern in conjunction with an air-source and ground-source heat pump to heat and cool the building. Thomas said he and his team “are learning important lessons to take clients into the future.”

“Our new building will not be just a second headquarters to say we ‘walk the talk’ at Melink. It will be about showing architects, engineers, and contractors how to design and construct zero-energy buildings with only a 10% cost premium. It will be about revolutionizing the building industry for the 21st Century,” said Melink.

“I believe other building stakeholders from across the land will want to see and hear how we did this. I believe our customers will want to see and hear how we did this. The ROI will be too good for them not to,” said Melink.

“Our company prides itself on repeat business, and we are honored to be working again with Steve Melink and his team,” said Kevin Scott, president, Bunnell Hill Construction. “His ideas and innovative concepts continue to expand our company expertise.”

Article originally featured on Cincinnati Business Courier’s website. 

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