June 28, 2023
Staff Accomplishment

PNNL Engineer Earns Best Paper Award

Recognition from buildings group holds extra special meaning for Jamie Kono

Photo of Jamie Kono standing next to her parents, Jody Cummings and James Cummings. Jamie is holding the 2022 Journal Paper Award.

Jamie Kono, a PNNL building research engineer, holds the 2022 Journal Paper Award given to her by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Joining her for the occasion are her parents, Jody Cummings and James Cummings.

(Photo courtesy of Jamie Kono | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has given its 2022 Journal Paper Award to Jamie Kono, a building research engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

The study, of which Kono was lead author, explored possible ventilation improvements for two office buildings constructed in 1980s. The two buildings reflected typical building practices of the era, a time when an emphasis on energy efficiency compromised ventilation rates. The award honors the best paper or article published in the ASHRAE Journal.

“These two particular buildings needed to double their ventilation rates in order to meet current minimum standards for commercial buildings set by ASHRAE,” said Kono, who received the award on June 24 at the organization’s annual meeting in Tampa, Fla. “The study discusses the process we went through to identify options that building managers could pursue to increase their ventilation. We also conducted general cost estimates of each of those options and considered construction logistics, including how much disruption there would be to tenants.”

About 164,000 U.S. office buildings in use today were constructed in the 1980s, representing 17% of all office buildings, the study says. “While many have been renovated over the past 40 years,” the study says, “a significant number still rely on constrained ventilation systems that fall far short of today’s standards.”

COVID-19 motivated Kono and the study’s three co-authors to produce the article, titled “Increasing Ventilation In 1980s High-Rise Commercial Office Buildings.” The authors noted that the pandemic inspired public interest in building ventilation rates as well as the creation of an ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force. That group recommended that buildings “provide and maintain at least the minimum outdoor airflow rates for ventilation as specified by applicable codes and standards.”

The award holds extra special meaning for Kono, who earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2016 and began work at PNNL last year.

That’s because her father, James Cummings, program director of the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, Fla., won the same award in 2009. Her father was co-author of “Problems Related to Air Handler Leakage.”

“My mom’s the one who spilled the beans,” Kono said. “I heard that we would receive the award, I told my parents, and they were thrilled. It wasn’t until about a month ago that my mom said, ‘By the way, your dad also got this award.’”

Kono’s mother, Jody Cummings, develops energy modeling software at the Florida Solar Energy Center.

“Yep, they’re both in the building science industry. You might say I was heavily influenced from a young age,” Kono said. “We’re the type of family that walks into a restaurant and instead of looking first at the menu we’ll talk about the pressurization of the building and how, you know, maybe one of the kitchen exhaust fans is underperforming.”