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Monday, February 22, 2010

The Power of the Retrofit: Part 2 - Blog - Build2Sustain


A little over a week ago, we highlighted Caterpillar as an example of what can be achieved with an intelligent retrofit. The project earned LEED certification and the energy savings were well publicized. But we weren't satisfied. We know that the most important part of any business case is ROI and payback. With that in mind, we reached out to Tom Gerike, Engineering Project Team Leader at Caterpillar to learn more.

1) Reports indicate your retrofit achieved an energy consumption reduction of more than 40% resulting in $800k worth of savings. We're always making the business case for sustainable retrofit and renovation; can you give us a sense of the ROI and payback period associated with the retrofit?

We spent approximately $3,000,000 to get this $800,000 in savings for a payback of 3.75 years.

2) Were there primary building systems you knew you could target when planning the retrofit or did you evaluate everything? What was the design process like?

Primary building systems that were evaluated were the air handlers and air distribution, the chiller plant, and the lighting. The design process was based on seeing what current equipment was not performing as it should have been and then looking for further improvement opportunities. A walk-through audit was performed after maintenance improvements were made to determine what kind of engineering changes were needed for the systems.

3) As a result of your design process, what primary building systems were retrofitted? Were core systems retrofitted (HVAC, Lighting, Windows), was this largely a control-based retrofit, or both?

The major areas of work for this project were to convert the building from a constant volume system into a variable air volume system, controls upgrades to convert pneumatic controllers at terminal devices to direct digital controllers, control upgrades to the chiller plant, and the installation of an automated lighting system to schedule the lights on and off.

4) You achieved LEED Gold-EBOM certification for this project. Was LEED certification a primary goal of the project? How did that impact the way you approached the project?

Yes, LEED certification was a primary goal. It impacted the approach of the project in the following way. To get LEED, you need a minimum score on the Energy Star of 69. We were well below that value, so the energy improvements became a major focus of the project in order to reach that minimum score. Also, the savings from the energy improvements went to offset the costs of additional changes need to achieve LEED.

5) How long did the project take from internal proposal to completion?

We worked 2 years on this project.

6) Given the success of this project, are there future Caterpillar sites slated for similar retrofits?

Yes, we are always looking to make energy efficiency improvements that are in line with our enterprise sustainability goals.

The Power of the Retrofit: Part 2 - Blog - Build2Sustain


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