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Building Retrofits: Why chiller plant optimization offers a high ROI.
September 14, 2022
Innovas Technologies

Why do building owners choose to retrofit properties?

Building owners have many reasons for retrofitting properties with the two most common being to increase the marketability of the property or its operating efficiency. Both are financially driven decisions that increase rent revenue or reduce operating costs.
In addition to the financial considerations, the reputation for operating environmentally friendly properties has become a priority for many developers. For example, the USGBC states, “LEED buildings have faster lease-up rates and may qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.”

What retrofit Options do owners have?

Most building retrofit options center around reduced energy consumption. With the soaring cost of energy, the financial savings alone are enough to prompt action. To better understand retrofit options, we can look at the elements in a typical energy audit like the building envelope, lighting, appliances, and HVAC systems.
Upgrades to LED lighting and replacing appliances with new units of higher efficiency may have a modest impact on energy consumption. Fixing air leaks in the building envelope with more efficient insulation can also help. However, the single largest energy consumption in any commercial building comes from the HVAC system. Most large facilities, like high-rise buildings, use a Chiller, Cooling Tower and Air Handling Unit that work together to provide climate control. These systems are notoriously inefficient which is a problem when commercial buildings account for nearly 40% of total energy consumption in the United States and of that up to 50% of their energy is consumed by chiller plants

How chiller plant optimization impacts building energy consumption.

As many as 95% of all Chillers are subject to a condition called fouling. Chiller fouling is the deposition of material on heat transfer surfaces, which significantly impacts the thermal and mechanical performance of heat exchangers. Fouling increases the overall thermal resistance and lowers the heat transfer coefficient of heat exchangers, impedes fluid flow, accelerates corrosion, and increases pressure drop across the heat exchanger.
This strips the entire system of its cooling capacity and uses more and more electricity. Building owners looking for retrofit solutions that impact building profitability can target the largest expense, electricity, by exploring solutions that improve chiller plant optimization.
One of the options is the Helios Automatic Tube Cleaning System®. This is a proprietary technology developed by Innovas Technologies in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Helios® is installed on water-cooled chillers and keeps the tubes clean without time-consuming intervention. Specialized cleaning balls are injected at set intervals into the cooling water flow. The balls rub the tubes clean and are then trapped at the outlet of the heat exchanger, where they are prepared for the next cleaning cycle. The technology prevents chiller tubes from accumulating dirt—translating to an average 10% energy efficiency improvement for generating air conditioning in large buildings, hospitals, and campuses, with energy savings up to as much as 25%.
Helios installations have completed millions of cleaning cycles over the last decade with operational reliability above 99.97% and zero cooling process interruption.

Case Study: Empire State Building

In April of 2019 Innovas Technologies began work to commission a Helios Automatic Tube Cleaning System® in New York City’s iconic landmark, the Empire State Building. The project’s goal was to optimize chiller plant efficiency within the building’s HVAC systems.
Over the last three cooling seasons the project has shown to cut energy consumption by 1.2 million kW-hrs annually and reduce the world-famous building’s CO2 emissions footprint by 13,500 tons over the next 15 years – equivalent to removing 2,400 fossil-fueled cars from the road.
“We’re thrilled to have our technology selected to improve energy efficiency at the world’s most iconic building,” said Charles Dirks, CEO of Innovas Technologies. “The Empire State Building has long been a global symbol of leadership, and they have taken the initiative to embrace innovation and recognize the value it brings to them. This is a tremendous opportunity to introduce our technology to New York City.”

Conclusions

Chiller Tube fouling is an often-overlooked opportunity to retrofit older buildings and improve energy consumption. Because HVAC systems consume half of the energy used in a commercial building, the financial return on chiller plant optimization is substantial.
In addition to reducing the cost of electricity, the Helios Automatic Tube Cleaning System® helps owners reduce operating and maintenance costs.
To learn more about the Helios® and find out how it can improve the operational capability of your property contact Innovas Technologies at (877) 897.6564 or online at innovastechnologies.com.