Five-Year Capital Plan Helps Chicago High-Rise Cut Energy Use

  June 24, 2015

Today's quick read comes from David Callan, vice president, McGuire Engineers. A five-year capital plan is helping a Chicago high-rise cut energy use. Built in 1974, the 575,897-square-foot high-rise at 125 S. Wacker in Chicago's Loop financial district had an aging mechanical-electrical-plumbing (MEP) infrastructure. A five-year capital plan was developed that would both appeal to tenants and meet the owner's long-term energy expenditure goals. Instead of just changing out each piece of equipment or system for its most updated version, a path was created for the renovations based on a cascading ROI. Currently half way into the five-year master plan, the MEP upgrades aim to reduce the energy expenditure of the building by 50 percent over the course of the five years while increasing the building’s reliability and occupancy comfort and reducing its operating costs — all while fully occupied.

The 125 S. Wacker upgrades began with the building's control system in order to maximize efficiencies as the rest of the new MEP equipment was brought online. Subsequently, new boilers, a chiller plant upgrade and the addition of VAV equipment was championed, all allowing the building to heat and cool its spaces based on actual occupancy numbers, providing variable and part-load performance abilities.

Still on the docket for the second half of 125 S. Wacker's five-year plan: an area cooling tower upgrade, the addition of integrated controls and sensors for the building's lighting system and more. Currently, two years into the five-year strategic plan, 125 S. Wacker has raised its Energy Star rating by 12 percent and counting.

"It's really about understanding the building as the asset of our client. We needed to bring in the appropriate tools, technologies and mechanical systems to achieve that," says William Schuch, senior vice president, midwest regional engineering manager, Jones Lang LaSalle, property manager for 125 S. Wacker. "Tying that all together with a global vision will help them achieve where they want this asset to be in five to seven years: to be fully leased and to be energy-efficient, comparable to other buildings of its type."

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