University of Virginia

The University of Virginia (UVA) is a leading public university located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson it is one of the oldest and most respected public universities in America and known for excellence in all aspects of its operations and academics. UVA serves over 24,000 students and employs over 30,000 people.

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Innovas Technologies Case Study

University-wide installation of the Helios TCS resulted in more than $1.05 million in savings.

Use Case & Background

The University of Virginia (UVA) is a leading public university located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson it is one of the oldest and most respected public universities in America and known for excellence in all aspects of its operations and academics. UVA serves over 24,000 students and employs over 30,000 people.

The brick and mortar infrastructure supporting these people is comprised of 560 facilities that range from buildings over 200 years old to new construction. District level utility systems serve the more than 18M square feet and include 11 central cooling plants, 6.27 miles of utility tunnels, and 220 miles of underground distribution lines. Centralized cooling plants serve 10M square feet from more than 45,000 tons of cooling capacity comprised of 39 chillers.

Analytical Method

In 2014, the first priority for UVA was energy savings so they set up a comparative test plan for the first system against a duplicate system operating without the ATCS. This process has been repeated elsewhere since UVA’s industry-first integration, resulting in a broader adoption of the Helios TCS within additional UVA facilities.

Multiple factors affecting chiller efficiency were utilized including; Chiller Load, Chilled Water Supply Temperature (CWT), Entering Condenser Water Temperature (ECWT), and Chiller Tube Fouling.

Energy Performance Results

The initial chiller install ran for 3000 hours and performed 4-8% more efficiently, demonstrated no approach temperature rise, and required no manual cleaning. UVA independently verified this by analyzing detailed metering and chiller performance data. Despite UVA’s very high quality makeup water, the analysis indicated that the system’s simple payback would be approximately 5 years making the system financially beneficial, especially on assets with a 20 plus year life cycle.

Successfully Integrating the new technology was one of UVA’s highest priorities to ensure the system was operated to its highest potential. To assist with the Helios integration Innovas Technologies worked closely from the beginning with UVA operators and maintenance personnel ensuring quick adoption of the technology. It didn’t take long for UVA personnel to become self-sufficient in Helios system operations.

From the beginning of the first ATCS integration, UVA was evaluating energy performance data, but they were equally evaluating the workload involved with operating the Helios system. Specifically, they were measuring any unplanned failures, time needed to repair components, time and skill needed to complete a ball changeout, cost of replacement balls, and ease of operating system controls. Would condenser tube cleaning still be required?  Would the condenser require opening to inspect visual cleanliness? After several years the answers were clear. The maintenance was simple and tasks like manual cleaning and opening condensers for inspection were eliminated from the organization’s job list altogether.

Reliability

Furthermore, the reliability and quality of the Helios Systems proved to be so good that the systems required, and still require, virtually no maintenance. Changing the balls takes about 20 minutes for one person. That means a total of 1 hour and 40 minutes for the whole season, and 33 total hours per season for all 20 systems. And when a rare maintenance occurrence does arrive, it is usually immediately repairable at the basic skills level. And in the few instances over the last 8 years when technical support was needed, it has been met with immediate and effective support from the manufacturer. The technology is simple to operate and requires minimal maintenance.

The results? UVA now operates 20 Helios systems constituting over 27,000 tons of cooling while actively pursuing installation on remaining systems. The systems have run for over 250,000 hours and over 1,000,000 injection cycles with no Helios caused chiller process interruption. Furthermore, no manual cleaning has been required for Helios served chiller condensers saving over 2,000 man hours of labor, and freeing up skilled maintenance teams for higher value-added projects.

Study Results

“We can’t imagine our operation without the equipment.  The financial benefit made the system an easy sell” – Justin Callihan, Plant Associate Director

 The projected energy savings attributed to the Helios™ adoption over the next 7 years equates to $1,425,000 in hard dollar savings.

Heat Exchanger

Energy cost savings.

University-wide installation has resulted in over $1,051,431 in total savings and 10K+ tons of C02 emissions.

Exceptional reliability.

The systems have run for over 250,000 hours and over 1,000,000 injection cycles.

Data Summary

Manual cleaning of chiller condensers has been eliminated and the estimated labor savings equals $25K/year. In addition to the financial savings, the Helios program has also performed at an exceptionally high degree of reliability. There have been no chiller shutdowns caused by the Helios and operations costs have not risen in 7 years. We estimate the entirety of the ATCS (Helios) install performs with reliability rates better than 99.75% – an exceptional number over time.

Also, UVA holds minimal parts stock, (less than $4500.00) to support all 20 Helios systems. The energy savings and cleaning related labor savings are compelling and demonstrate a very high performing program. Furthermore, fewer maintenance activities (From chiller tube cleaning) has enabled UVA to redirect thousands of skilled man hours towards higher value plant related maintenance moving UVA further toward its pursuit of operational excellence.

George Mason University Cost Savings Summary

Find out how much your organization could save.

Learn how the Helios Tube Cleaning System® from Innovas improves the energy efficiency of cooling systems.