ABM Energy
Preparing to raise RTUs

ABM Energy Uses PACE Financing to Help Facility Save $1.6 Million

Dec. 27, 2017
ABM’s customized solution will provide energy efficiency upgrades and facility enhancements that are guaranteed to save over $1.6 million in energy and operating costs within a 15-year period.

In June 2016, Heller Machine Tools L.P. became the first manufacturing company in Michigan to use Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing to pay for an energy performance contracting program managed and fulfilled by ABM Energy.

The project was completed in February of 2017. ABM’s customized solution will provide energy efficiency upgrades and facility enhancements that are guaranteed to save over $1.6 million in energy and operating costs within a 15-year period.

More than 30 heating, ventilation and air conditioning units at Heller Machine Tools’ U.S. headquarters in Troy, Mich., were aging past their useful lives, and there was no central energy management system to control the facility’s operation.The company was an established maintenance client of ABM and wanted a proactive, cost-effective strategy to replace this aging equipment as well as reduce the facility’s overall energy waste.

Bill Maurer, senior vice president of energy for ABM Energy, spoke with Contracting Business about the project.

“We started talking with them about a long-term solution to replacing the 15 and 20-year-old units. We had also been talking about lighting retrofits to replace older lighting. Most of the time the larger industrial clients are not real keen on doing large HVAC or lighting retrofits. They like to fix it as it breaks, since it doesn’t directly affect production," Maurer said. “When a couple of RTUs failed, we suggested replacing the lighting and using the annual energy savings to help pay for all the HVAC units, all new lighting, new energy management controls, and a new shop compressed air system."

Together, ABM and Heller Machine Tools outlined a strategy to replace all of the facility’s aging equipment with state-of-the-art, energy-efficient systems using the city’s recently implemented PACE financing program.

ABM Energy’s solutions included:
• replacing more than 30 rooftop units with new, energy-efficient YORK Predator units.
“This required some curb modifications, since we weren’t replacing like-for-like,” Maurer said. “Fifteen to 20 years ago. engineers oversized the units. We may have a 5-ton when a 2-ton would suffice.”
• a Johnson Controls Facilitator web-based building automation system, CRE lighting and ESPEN bulbs for interior/exterior LED lighting and controls.
• upgrading the oldest section of the facility’s ballasted roof with heat-reflective, energy-efficient white thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing.

The old units were removed and new units lifted into place by a helicopter, which was a nine-hour process. The plant had to be in constant operation, with no downtime.

The PACE financing program spreads costs over 10 to 20 years, so that the savings generated are greater than the annual PACE loan repayment, generating immediate positive cash flow. Along with the financial benefits come improved indoor environmental quality, including comfort conditions and lighting levels.

The plant is on track to be one of a select few manufacturing facilities that is ENERGY STAR certified.

Heller Machine Tools will also see continued service benefits throughout ABM Energy’s full-service guaranteed maintenance agreement, which secures for them a fixed maintenance cost for the next 10 years.

“If anything breaks, it’s on us,” Maurer said. “If a belt breaks or a motor burns out we replace it for free. Our theory is that if you allow us to maintain the equipment, we’ll make it last 30 to 40 percent longer than its lifecycle, and they won’t have the emergency repairs that you typically have doing a run-to-fail mode. We also have that Guaranteed Uptime program.”