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March 13, 2013 -
Today’s tip from Building Operating Management: Replacing HVAC equipment before it fails can pay off.
While upgrading HVAC equipment is never an easy process, it's certainly easier to do it before something breaks. Nike found this out the hard way.
"We had a reactive plan in place when it came to replacing HVAC equipment, due to budget restrictions, and would only replace the units after they had failed and had no more life left in them to be salvaged," says Kirk Beaudoin, territory facilities manager, North American retail operations, Nike. "After a few difficult summers, where multiple units had failed, causing major discomfort and lost sales as consumers left complaining of the temperatures, leaders asked what we could do to avoid these issues in the future."
The result was a program that allows Beaudoin and his staff to replace rooftop units at the stores before they fail. It also allows them to replace all of the units — usually five — at once.
"It allows us to bring the whole store up to our new equipment brand standards, with greater energy efficiency, r410a refrigerants, and makes connectivity with our EMS easier," he says. "As the fleet is slowly replaced/upgraded, we'll have to revisit the replacement plan, as the equipment 'should' be in greater shape, and last longer, so replacing them one off as needed will likely make more fiscal sense, as we can squeeze more life out of each unit."
If you're looking into upgrading your HVAC system because equipment is reaching the end of its life or because the building needs better service, it can be an easier sell than simply looking to become more energy efficient.
"Are you trying to solve a problem? Or are you trying to make it more efficient?" says Clayton Ulrich, senior vice president, engineering services, Hines. "It's clearly very hard to justify what we would loosely call an HVAC upgrade in an existing building if there isn't a problem."
This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day.