In today’s high pressure work environments, tenants demand work spaces that help ensure employee comfort and enhance productivity. Rocky Mountain Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy examined eight case studies across a variety of industries in 2010, and found that energy efficiency improvements made to lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) generally make employees more comfortable and productive.
Leaders at Westbrook Corporate Center in Westchester, IL, needed to address lighting and HVAC systems in an office complex featuring five, 10-story buildings with three wings each. Westbrook, which is owned by Arden Realty, Inc., features approximately 1.2 million sq.ft. of leasable space. The complex is located in western suburban Chicago, just 30 minutes from downtown Chicago.
Video of Westbrook Corporate Center. Courtesy of Trane
Westbrook Corporate Center, which houses 40 tenants representing the healthcare, financial and education industries, faced challenges including low occupancy due to inconsistent space comfort. Issues also included high energy consumption and costs, poor visibility in conference rooms, and aging and outdated infrastructure systems.
Updated lighting improves conference rooms
Upgrades included replacing lighting in conference rooms with highly efficient GE lighting. Previously, the conference rooms featured older T8 and T12 fixtures. The project team installed state-of-the-art LED fixtures, transforming the rooms from both a lighting and energy consumption standpoint.
The new LED fixtures significantly reduced energy consumption and made the rooms warm and inviting for tenants. The new lighting solution will last for 10-15 years, reducing maintenance and increasing lighting reliability.
“The updated lighting is actually more evenly distributed and provides dimming capabilities to fit the needs of a meeting while also allowing meeting participants to see more clearly with a natural light color,” said Craig Hall, strategic relationship manager
for GE. “We’re also pleased that the new lighting saves time and money from a maintenance standpoint.”
GE Lighting and Trane have invested in the tight integration of environment and lighting systems providing increased benefits through advanced control. Leveraging common occupancy and temperature sensors provides the ability to connect two of the largest energy consumers in a commercial building. Coordinated time of day scheduling, daylight harvesting and load shedding can deliver increased energy reduction for building managers.
Project team upgrades HVAC
The project team also upgraded HVAC systems for the tower complex. The team took special care not to interrupt tenant work, operating primarily on weekends. In fact, the entire air handling system was replaced in a window of time from 6 p.m. on a Friday night until 6 a.m. the following Monday morning.
This included removing the old unit, and replacing, reconnecting and testing the new unit so that it was completely operational by first thing Monday morning. New highly efficient custom air handling units help ensure that the buildings’ space comfort needs are met consistently and reliably.
Previously, the buildings had hot spots and cold spots because the complex featured aging and outdated air handling systems. The new air handling units helped alleviate those issues. The project team also added 30 air-cooled chillers, two in each of the 15 wings. Each wing now includes a duplicate chiller, in case of system challenges or interruptions, to ensure that performance continues regardless.
Tenant comfort escalates
“This past summer, after the first improvements were completed, our tenants let us know that they were comfortable all day,” said Fred Lowy, chief engineer for Westbrook Corporate Center. “Previously, we depended on an outdated ice storage system on the roof that would lose the ability to cool the buildings mid-day. The size and capacity of the ice storage system weren’t able to meet demand. Tenants would start to feel warm and uncomfortable throughout the afternoon hours.”
“We met with our largest tenant recently and the first thing he said was that this past summer was the first time he didn’t need to put in a “hot call” complaint indicating tenants’ discomfort,” said Sheree Worcester, senior property manager for Westbrook Corporate Center. “This is pretty amazing because typically it’s impossible to satisfy 100 percent of your tenants with HVAC. That we were able to so completely satisfy our largest client is pretty impressive.”
Highly efficient controls ensure system regulation
The team integrated Trane Tracer SC controls to help monitor the lighting and HVAC systems to increase efficiency. The controls were interfaced with the existing building automation system monitoring the building. Optimizing and coordinating the two systems has brought about a much higher level of control and efficiencies, improving overall energy costs.
Systems can be accessed onsite or remotely via computer or smartphone to make adjustments as needed to enhance tenant comfort. The BAS works with Tracer SC controls to alert the facilities team whenever a particular system needs attention.
The lighting and HVAC improvements have significantly reduced maintenance. A three-year maintenance contract helps ensure that systems continue to run at optimized levels. The contract covers all systems, including the chiller, fans and controls.
Leaders at Arden Real Estate expect that the upgrades will generate significant annual energy savings, while alleviating challenges with tenants and helping to ensure consistent building occupancy.
For more information about high performance buildings, visit trane.com/highperformancebuildings.