Iowa State University Lied Recreation Athletic Center


Project: Iowa State University Lied Recreation Center, Ames, Iowa

Firm: Henneman Engineering

Product: 10 Powerfoil®X Plus fans, ranging in size from 20 to 24 feet (6 to 7.3 metres) in diameter, as well as 12 6-ft (1.8-m) diameter Pivot® fans

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“We projected a $3.2 million cost to air condition the entire facility; with Big Ass Fans we were able to provide substantial savings by offsetting these mechanical costs with a large volume of air circulation.”

Chuck Heldenbrand
Henneman Engineering Consultants

Project Summary

The need to cancel exercise classes due to excessive temperatures was just one of the issues prompting Iowa State University to upgrade its recreation facility’s cooling system. Built in 1995, the 236,000-sq-ft (21,925-sq-m) facility was only air conditioned in a few select areas, rendering most of the facility incredibly uncomfortable for the 1,400 daily occupants. The lack of air movement and sauna-like conditions led to an ambitious renovation project, aimed at providing effective natural ventilation without incurring the high cost associated with mechanical cooling. “The building as a whole would have needed well over 500 tonnes of cooling,” said Chuck Heldenbrand of Henneman Engineering Consultants. “Air conditioning the entire facility, if we were to do it, came with an initial cost of about $3.2 million.” Instead, Big Ass Fans provided much-needed air movement at a fraction of the cost.

Engineers opted to use Big Ass Fans above and around the upper track level, as well as in the lobby. “The intent was to offset the increased temperatures with air movement, improving the comfort of those using the facility,” noted Heldenbrand.

Big Ass Fans supplement the natural ventilation with constant, steady air movement. According to Robert Holzworth, a project manager for the university, the reaction from students has been positive. “In addition to the fans’ obvious summer application, they have assisted with air distribution in the winter,” said Holzworth. “We had a stratification issue, but Big Ass Fans keep the hot air down at the floor level and improve thermal comfort.”

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