Project Profile: Electrical-System Retrofit
Part 2: Project Team Replaces Switchgear, Specifies Direct Digital Controls
Project Team Replaces Switchgear, Specifies Direct Digital Controls
By Chris Matt, Managing Editor - Print & E-Media - March 2010 - Power & Communication
The driving force behind the renovation and addition was space demands, though aging mechanical and electrical systems also forced the project team into action. The original building already had reached capacity the day the police department occupied the space, so the city knew it would have to act if the police wanted to expand operations at some point.
"The police had done a long-term space-planning (analysis) for the entire police department," Miller says. "This was part of the resolution to that space-planning need. They were decentralizing a lot of police functions that were originally located in downtown Minneapolis and moving a lot of these functions out to the various precincts. It was a big space need."
As part of the city's long-term capital plan, managers keep a close eye on life-cycle costs related to equipment performance, repair, and replacement. For the Third Precinct Police Headquarters building, modernization of electrical and mechanical equipment was a must.
Electrical. The city replaced the main switchgear coming into the building and specified an emergency back-up generator to ensure reliable power. The new electrical equipment gives the building versatility if the police department eventually decides to expand or change operations within the space.
The project team also specified direct digital controls (DDC) for the building, technology that has improved the facilities department's productivity and made troubleshooting more streamlined.
"We've got a couple of different (DDC) systems that we use now throughout our facilities," Miller says. "We get some pretty good initial training for our operations staff. But then what's been really helpful is we get ongoing training because these systems upgrade all the time.
"We're sending our maintenance staff — our stationary engineers — to training on a fairly regular basis. They're a pretty computer-savvy group."
HVAC. The Third Precinct Police Headquarters building had been notoriously difficult to heat and cool before the renovation, due to an open atrium that featured a translucent roof. While the roof provided daylighting benefits, it made heating and cooling the space a challenge.
The city had success specifying high-efficiency, condensing boilers for its facilities, so the project team followed suit by selecting those units for the renovation and addition.
"Efficiency is big, but also the amount of effort we have to put into something like that after the fact (is minimal) — our long-term operation and maintenance costs," Miller says of the boilers. "These things are easy to run, they're easy to maintain, and we've had a lot of good luck, as far as life of the units."