Partnering for Successful HVAC Upgrades
Part three of a three-part article on HVAC upgrades
Partners in success
One key tactic in ensuring successful projects is partnering with a manufacturer that meets the needs and matches the expectations of the organization.
“A lot of times, people go with the low bid, which is fine if it’s a known, quality provider,” McCarthy says. “We tend to go with low bid, except if we know someone else is better. I only allow people to bid who can do the job. In this case, the chiller-heater went to the low bidder.”
A more traditional approach to upgrade projects might not have gone as smoothly as the chiller-heater project because it likely would have involved more parties.
“The beauty of it is that traditionally, you go to a construction manager, who had subbed out the electrical and removal of the old equipment and installation of the new equipment,” she says. “So you’d have five or six different hats involved.
“In this case, there was one hat when something went wrong. We’d call them up and say, ‘Something is wrong. You need to fix it.’ We do a lot of business with (this manufacturer), so when they do a sole source for all the different components, it reduces the project management for me. It makes it easier, and if there’s an issue, they’re fully on the hot seat.”
The finished chiller-heater project has delivered on its intended benefits. At a cost of slightly more than $1 million, the project delivered a one-year payback and then some.
“It gave us a little bit warmer temperatures than we had planned,” she says. “We keep it throttled back to 140 degrees, though we could go higher. We didn’t realize we could get 150-degree water out of the machine. It gives us a nice little buffer.”
The hospital also recently installed two solar-power arrays. One is a rooftop array, and the second is a 2,200-panel array on the ground at one of its off-sites. As with the chiller-heater project, McCarthy partnered with a single vendor in carrying out the installation.
“I did the same thing with the solar farms,” she says. “It definitely helped to have sole responsibility over all the vendors, provided that person is a reputable company, because the subvendor isn’t paid if there are issues. Large companies with project management experience and staff are the types of companies it’s good to partner with.
“The 100 kW solar array was a new construction project and used for LEED points. It was one-quarter the cost of a ground-source heat pump system. The 550 kW array was a third-party install. We locked in a power cost lower than our utility and will have ownership in 15 years. The two rooftop arrays totaling 115 kW were part of a chilled-water to hydronic-water heat pump project and had a combined five-year payback.”