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Part 3: Making the Case for HVAC Retrofits
By Loren Snyder
August 2010 -
The three facility managers interviewed for this article recently undertook large HVAC upgrades.
1. RICK MARTORANO, Arizona State University, replaced a building control system on campus. "A complete control system was needed due to component failure of the last system," Martorano says. The original system, which dated back to 1993, had been malfunctioning. "We could not obtain repair parts, so we limped along under manual control for several years," he says.
2. KEVIN DEVINE, Brookfield Properties Corp., is responsible for several of the largest Class A office buildings in Los Angeles, including the Bank of America building. One recent project included replacement of variable frequency drives and CO2 monitoring.
"We replaced the items because some of the existing drives were starting to fail," he says. "They were operating at 100 percent, which isn't efficient." Goals were to improve reliability and energy savings, as well as BAS compatibility and better integration with alarms.
3. JIM COOKE, Toyota Motor Sales U.S. operations, undertook the ongoing replacement of HVAC units. "We are in the process of replacing many self-contained, single and multi-zoned package roof top HVAC Ôboxcar' units that have exceeded their useful life," he says. "We're also replacing compressors as they begin to fail."
Cooke says that many of his organization's facilities have HVAC equipment that has been in service for 25 to 30 years. Toyota's facility equipment maintenance program has allowed Cooke and his team to get extended life from this equipment.
"But we're starting to see increased maintenance, signs of impending failure of major components and a lack of efficiency compared with new equipment."
Toyota's facility team replaces end-of-service-life units with comparable units that employ current engineering technology, non-CFC refrigerants, true BACnet control interfaces and the most energy efficient units from a life-cycle cost perspective, says Cooke.
— Loren Snyder
Sometimes it can be difficult to justify replacement, especially when a good, proactive facility team can troubleshoot vintage systems. That's one end of the spectrum. At the other end are facility managers who have huge capital budgets and can replace HVAC equipment whenever they choose. In the middle is a vast gray space where marking the right time for HVAC replacement can be tricky. How, then, does one decide?
In Arizona State University's case, the decision was fairly easy for Rick Martorano, director of space and facility operations. The college president issued a bulletin outlining ways ASU would achieve energy savings. That mandate both made the economic case for HVAC equipment and Martorano's efforts easier, and also bolstered the college's sustainable profile.
For Brookfield Properties, the commercial real-estate market helps determine what can be justified. But Kevin Devine, director of engineering for the southern California region, says that the green building movement has helped facility managers everywhere. "It gives us a forum to talk about efficiency and justify our choices," he says.
For Toyota, Jim Cooke, national facilities operations manager, was able to demonstrate that his team had significantly exceeded the expected useful life of the equipment. They could also show senior management the trends in increased maintenance costs over time, and, in most cases, a relatively short payback on the new equipment from an energy efficiency standpoint.
Part 1: Planning and Coordination Helps HVAC Projects Succeed
Part 2: Measuring the Benefits of HVAC Upgrades