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HVAC Upgrades Leads to LEED Gold Certification

The Bank of America Plaza in Columbia, SC is a 17-story office complex housing 302, 340 sq feet of Class A commercial office space. The structure has gone a series of HVAC service improvements since it changed ownership in 1989.

In 2006 Cooper Realty brought in Johnson Controls and NAI Avant, a property management company, to make sure the building obtained LEED Certification. Over the course of the next year and a half Johnson Controls implemented a variety of approved energy conservation measures resulting in an annual utility cost savings of over $43,000. These measures included upgrading variable air volume controls from pneumatic to digital, installation of variable-speed drives on all cooling equipment, building-wide lighting control retrofits and upgrading the building controls to a Johnson Controls Metasys building management system.

The Metasys system communicates using standard web browsers and maximizes monitoring and control of all mechanical and electrical throughout the building. Control sequencing enhancements were done were done on equipment throughout the building. New controls on water heaters and unit heaters allow for off-hour scheduling and control sequencing to reduce energy consumption. Power monitoring initiatives included sub-metering of individual floors and select equipment.

A keypad on each floor allows tenants to override the preset schedule for HVAC and lighting. Because those billable hours can be tracked and reported, it helps manage energy costs and justify tenant charge-backs when appropriate.

The ENERGY STAR rating system was used to benchmark building performance at the beginning and end of the retro-commissioning process. This helps to ensure the long-lasting benefits of the process. An ongoing controls-based service agreement with Johnson Controls ensures system performance and optimization.

The building’s ENERGY STAR rating in April 2008 was 84 after some of the energy conservation measures had been completed and the building received the ENERGY STAR award.

When the building decided to pursue a Gold rating the building once again consulted Johnson Controls. Cleaning and recycling practices along with basic everyday operations were identified to assist in writing internal policies and procedures. Green cleaning practices implemented to require the use of Green Seal Certified cleaning agents, which improve the environment and reduce toxins and waste.

Johnson Controls identified and implemented additional upgrades to achieve certification including installation of fresh air measurement and CO2  monitors to better control indoor air quality. Additional power monitors were installed to allow for sub-metering of chillers and lighting control panels. Metsys system trending was written to sub-meter all variable-speed drives and generate reports. As a result, nearly 80% of the energy in the building is sub-metered, allowing energy in similar areas to be tracked and further enhancements to be made.

In April 2009 the building achieved an ENERGY STAR rating of 87, once again receiving the ENERGY STAR award.  As a result, the Plaza was awarded Gold certification in March 2010. Energy was reduced by 15% and water by 40% at the Plaza as a result of the energy initiatives that have been put in place.   

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