4  FM quick reads on retrofits

1. Project Management: Successful Lighting Retrofits


I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, lighting system retrofits.

Commercial and institutional facilities measure the success of building retrofits in many ways, including cost savings, reduced energy use, and improved productivity of those responsible for maintaining the new technology. But one important indicator that is difficult to quantify is the level of interest from peers outside the organization. A prime example of this dynamic is taking place at the University of California, Davis, where lighting retrofits are garnering a great deal of attention.

"It's been an interesting ride so far," says Chris Cioni, the university's associate director of utilities. "We've had a lot of inquiries from folks in the field who have found out about the projects just by searching on the Internet."

The university's Smart Lighting Initiative has turned the campus into something of a lighting laboratory, thanks in large part to the university's relationship with the California Lighting Technology Center, or CLTC, a demonstration and education facility on campus that develops energy-efficient technologies. Cioni uses CLTC staff as a sounding board when considering cutting-edge lighting technology for retrofit projects.

Cioni, his team, and the CLTC joined forces in retrofitting fixtures in campus parking structures and surface lots. Their next set of projects will focus on pathways, roads, and fixtures on building exteriors. The opportunities for savings are great, considering the number of exterior fixtures on campus — 2,300 fixtures in parking structures and surface lots, as well as 700 fixtures on roads, 1,300 on pedestrian and bicycle paths, and 3,000 on building exteriors.

The Smart Lighting Initiative does include interior lighting, but Cioni concentrates solely on exterior fixtures. The university spent almost $1 million retrofitting fixtures in its surface lots and parking structures, which generated about $300,000 in utility rebates. The projects have resulted in additional benefits, including energy savings, reduced maintenance, and improved safety.

"The energy savings were the first target," Cioni says. "What drove me was having those very large and prominent parking lots right near a very visible part of campus. We have a big performing arts center, and it's kind of a focal point. Seeing these empty parking lots when I would drive in early in the morning when it was still dark, it just caught me as wasteful and a real opportunity to do something different."


2.  Occupant Input Can Aid HVAC Retrofits

Today's tip comes from James Piper, contributing editor for Building Operating Management.

One of the goals of any HVAC retrofit is to improve the level of service. While FMs might understand the technical problems with existing HVAC systems, they will not fully comprehend the needs of building occupants unless they get them involved in the retrofit process. Occupants are the ones that understand their operations best. FMs will not know what system will best meet their needs - indeed, they might not even have a good understanding of what their HVAC needs are - but occupants will give FMs a clearer understanding of what the HVAC system will be expected to do.

Building occupants are also good sources of information on the performance of existing systems. Frequently, they are aware of problems that go unreported to building staff. That information is often crucial in setting priorities for HVAC system retrofits.

There's one other reason to get occupants involved: HVAC retrofits can be disruptive. They can require temporary relocation of occupants. Heating or cooling service may be disrupted for days or weeks. A schedule of moves and outages will have to be developed. Without the cooperation of occupants, retrofits can turn into scheduling nightmares.

3.  Lessons Project Management

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is,

When Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., initiated plans in 2005 to install the combined heat and power, or CHP, system and build a 10,000-square-foot Central Utility Facility to house the technology, maintenance and engineering managers knew they were undertaking an immense challenge.

In the end, the project delivered the intended energy efficiency benefits to the organization. Of all the benefits CHP is designed to deliver to facilities, the two biggest are cost savings and reliability, two issues that resonate with managers in any discussion of power management.

"The savings and the reliability — not being married to the grid in the event of an emergency," says Bill Romatzick, the university's manager of energy controls & plant systems. "For a hospital, a university, or anywhere where uptime is critical, I think that's a big selling feature."

The project also provided lessons that have improved the efficiency of the department and personnel involved.

For example, during construction of the facility, communication with occupants, staff, and the utility company was paramount.

"Whenever we shut down, we have to notify the utility ahead of time," Romatzick says. "For the whole process, the utility dictates your interconnection agreement, how you're going to connect to their grid, what safety measures have to be in place, and the cleanliness of the electricity you're generating. They're the final say."

Romatzick offers a few other lessons learned:

First, building size. "If you're going to build the building or find a location for the CHP system, make sure that it's large enough," he says. "Our facility is a little tight, as far as maintenance goes."

Next, additional equipment. "There is additional equipment you have to buy," he says. "We also have to increase gas pressure. We don't have a high-pressure gas main in the area, and turbines require 200 pounds of gas to operate. We had to install a 250-horsepower gas compressor to increase the pressure of the gas on site."

Finally, the nature of operations. "You have to have a place that you can year-round use that heating source," he says. "That's why it's so popular in hospitals and universities where you have a heavy air-conditioning load."

4.  Plumbing and Water Conservation

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, plumbing retrofits.

Among the biggest challenges facing maintenance and engineering managers overseeing plumbing retrofits is product compatibility. For example, older toilets can have flows as high as 6 gallons per flush, or gpf. And the bowls on these toilets were designed for that flow. But if a retrofit calls for an upgrade to fixtures that use 1.6 gpf or 1.28 gpf, the manager will need to check with the bowl's manufacturer to ensure its design operates with the new, lower flow.

If not, it might be necessary to replace the bowl as part of the retrofit to prevent back-ups and overflows. Even so, the savings of 4.4 gpf or 4.72 gpf — multiplied by the number of flushes per year and again by the number of toilets, plus trouble-free operation and lower maintenance costs — are worth the upgrade cost.

Other product options for managers to consider incorporating into retrofits are dual-flush, auto-flush, and waterless urinals.

With dual-flush valves, moving the handle in one direction allows a lower flow for flushing liquid waste. Moving it in the opposite direction allows a higher flow for flushing solid waste.

Auto-flush valves flush when the user moves away from the fixture. This design uses only the amount of water needed to keep the fixture clear, as opposed to a periodic, scheduled flush, whether a visitor uses the fixture or not. Managers also can specify auto-flush valves that operate on solar energy, using only the lighting in the restroom to maintain sufficient energy to operate the valve.

Waterless urinals do not require valve upgrades, just the addition of the liquid seal and an insert to hold it in the existing urinal drain. While waterless urinals eliminate water use and generate savings, managers need to consider their maintenance requirements before specifying them for retrofits, as they might demand more specialized maintenance compared to their more traditional, water-using counterparts.


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