Energy Improvement Aims High

Retro-commissioning project at former Nestlé Company headquarters recognized by inaugural Retro Rumble.

By Robert K. Calloway, P.E., CxA
From the December 2020 Issue

Building systems tune-ups are much like taking your car to a mechanic for a check-up. Preventative maintenance and repairs in facilities can result in significant reductions in operating costs and improvements to comfort conditions within the buildings.

My company, Global Facility Solutions, works with clients to develop and implement customized retro-commissioning plans for existing buildings. By applying the same principles used in commissioning a new building, the retro-commissioning process ensures, through documented verification, that all building systems perform interactively according to the design intent and operational needs of the building occupants.

Retro Rumble
A retro-commissioning project at a property in Glendale, CA achieved an increase of 20 points for its ENERGY STAR score. Shown here is the central chiller plant for the building. (Photo: Global Facility Solutions)

During a retro-commissioning project, the team identifies system deficiencies that are impacting building performance and implements corrections to improve operations and reduce energy costs. Candidates for retro-commissioning include new structures that are underperforming or have unexpected problems, existing facilities undergoing changes, or existing buildings being retrofitted for new technologies.

Why Is Retro-Commissioning Necessary?

Changing occupant needs, space redistribution, building renovations, and obsolete building systems reduce system efficiency and cause significant occupant complaints. These issues drive up energy and maintenance costs while making your facility less attractive to new and existing occupants.

One of Global Facility Solutions’ projects was recently recognized in the Energy Management Association’s (EMA) inaugural Retro Rumble competition as the “Overall Winner.” In partnership with ENERGY STAR, the contest assessed energy efficiency success in commercial and public buildings (see sidebar). According to EMA, “participants were judged based on their overall changes in ENERGY STAR score and Site Energy Use Intensity (EUI).”

Retro Rumble
Originally constructed in 1990, this 21-story building is the former U.S. headquarters for the Nestlé Company. (Photo: Global Facility Solutions)

Our “Overall Winner” project is the 800 North Brand property, located in Glendale, CA. Originally constructed in 1990, this 21-story building is the former U.S. headquarters for the Nestlé Company. The retro-commissioning performed achieved an ENERGY STAR increase of 20 points over the comparison period. In February 2016, 800 North Brand received an ENERGY STAR score of 76. In February 2020, the property’s ENERGY STAR score increased to 96. The building’s EUI score dropped from 70 to 34.

At 800 North Brand, Global Facility Solutions’ retro-commissioning program identified system deficiencies and provided corrective actions. The investigation process ensured, through documented verification, that all building systems performed interactively according to the design intent and documentation and matched the operational needs of the building occupants.

Through new ownership, the day-to-day operations of the HVAC systems serving the building were revised to improve energy efficiency while enhancements to the building automation and control system were made through capital improvements and modifications to set-points, schedules, and energy management features. Capital improvements included new variable frequency drives for pumps and air handlers and control system upgrades that enhanced energy management features that were previously not available.

The 800 N. Brand property consists of a single building with a total of 527,338 rentable square feet of office space on 21 floors. The typical floor plate consists of 25,384 rentable square feet. The building floors are a rectangular shape with similar floor size on the low- and high-rise levels.

When Nestlé Company relocated its headquarters to the East Coast, the new ownership renovated and updated the building. The new owners turned the building in to a multi-tenant Class A office building and leased out the space.

The building is fully conditioned on all floors by a central cooling and heating system. The central HVAC system consists of central chillers, cooling towers, and individual air handlers located on each tenant floor. The chillers consist of two (2) 600-ton York variable speed centrifugal chillers and one (1) 400-ton York standard centrifugal compressor chiller. The chillers reject heat to a BAC cooling tower with two (2) 600-ton tower cells. Chilled water and condenser water pumps are located within the main chiller room on the lower level.

EMA & ENERGY STAR Retro Rumble Winners

In early 2020, the Energy Management Association (EMA) partnered with ENERGY STAR to host the first Retro Rumble, a competition that recognizes commercial and public building energy efficiency success. Participants were judged based on their overall changes in ENERGY STAR score and site Energy Use Intensity (EUI). The winners, including Global Facility Solutions as Overall Winner, were recognized in October. Retro Rumble’s introduction also marked the designation of EMA as an ENERGY STAR Partner.Retro Rumble

Healthcare Sector Winner: ETC Group
Project Name: Heart Hospital, Banner Health
Site EUI Change: 214 to 160
ENERGY STAR Score Change: 71 to 97

Multifamily Sector Winner: Cyclone Energy Group
Project Name: 340 on the Park, Lieberman Management
Site EUI Change: 76 to 60
ENERGY STAR Score Change: 19 to 27

Office Sector Winner: Cyclone Energy Group
Project Name: 70 W Madison
Site EUI Change: 64 to 50
ENERGY STAR Score Change: 58 to 72

Each tenant floor contains one (1) Pace air handling unit that provides conditioned air to the floor via variable air volume (VAV) boxes. The air handling units contain a chilled water coil for cooling the supply air to the floors and the supply air fan motor is controlled via a variable frequency drive (VFD).

The HVAC systems are controlled by an open-protocol direct digital control energy management system. The DDC control system was upgraded in 2000 and is connected to all systems except for four tenant floors. The typical operating schedule for the HVAC Systems is 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with no operation on weekends, unless required for HVAC overtime.

Global Facility Solutions utilized turn-key retro-commissioning services during the project such as conducting a facility audit to identify deficiencies, developing a retro-commissioning plan and providing project management oversight of the implementation. By correcting deficiencies in the existing building systems and installing operational enhancements to the building automation and control system, the significant increase in the property’s ENERGY STAR score was achieved.

Robert K. CallowayCalloway is the Founder and President of Global Facility Solutions, having established the company in 2006 to provide independent and objective facility solutions to the commercial, industrial, and government marketplaces. The firm serves Fortune 500 companies and federal/state government agencies nationwide. Headquartered in Columbia, MD, Global Facility Solutions is a privately held company. Calloway has over 30 years of experience in energy and engineering solutions as a mechanical engineer, a project manager, and project executive. He graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in multiple states and the District of Columbia.

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