Winter 2014 Forum    

Can Old HVAC Be Innovative?
Applying new operational strategies to buildings from 2-50 years old: you can teach an old building new tricks!

December 5, 2014
Apollo Solutions, Wilsonville

Held at the Apollo Solutions building in Wilsonville, Oregon, the Winter APEM Forum focused on innovative solutions for retrofitting existing buildings. Guidelines and life lessons of experienced energy engineering professionals were shared in each presentation. Several case studies were used to highlight successful retrofit projects as well as lessons learned from the field. 

The first presentation of the day was from Chris Lowen, PE, Northern Region Energy Director for Glumac. Chris provided an introduction to the energy analysis and innovative approaches to existing building retrofits.  Chris first put the issue in perspective by discussing humanity’s ecological footprint. Using graphs and images from Architecture 2030 and various other websites, Chris highlighted the need for energy efficiency increases in the building sector, as building operations account for 42% of the energy consumption of the United States.  Chris explained that the first step in any retrofit process is establishing a baseline by documenting a building’s Energy Use Index (EUI).  Building benchmarking helps us to know if we are meeting energy efficiency goals and standards like ASHRAE 90.1 2007 and Architecture 2030. The presentation then covered recommendations for which types of buildings are good candidates for retrocommissioning. Very old buildings have high operating costs, huge energy savings opportunities but high costs of improvements. New buildings have low operating costs and low costs of improvements, but low energy savings opportunities.  The mid-range aged buildings have the best opportunities for good savings at a reasonable price.

Finally, Chris gave a brief overview of the savings obtained at Rouge Regional Medical Center and the US Bank building in Madison, Wisconsin, where Glumac has completed a multi-year retrocommissioning projects.

Following Chris was Mark Kinzer, PE, Principal-in-Charge of engineering of Abacus Resource Management Company.  Mark presented on constant volume to variable volume conversions.  Mark peppered his presentation with real life examples and lessons learned the hard way.  First, Mark highlighted the importance of making sure that a design built variable air volume air handling system is actually varying. It is not uncommon to identify variable air volume (VAV) system that are operating as constant volume system because existing controls strategies, set points or operating characteristics override the variable volume capabilities of the system.  The first step is to identify this by logging or observing the behavior of the system.  The operating pattern of the systems should show a clear and definite cyclical pattern with increased levels during the day and reduced levels at night.  If this is not occurring, the terminal units, operational set points and controls strategies should be examined. 

Next, Mark explained that although the fan affinity laws predict a reduction in speed will result in a cubed reduction of power, in reality, only results in a squared reduction of power.  This occurs because of real life inefficiencies and changes to the fan curve after the speed is slowed.  This is an important concept because it dramatically affects the expected energy savings of a variable speed drive retrofit.

Mark discussed chilled water systems and how variable speed drives are very important to getting the maximum chiller efficiency out of a chiller system.  Also, Mark discussed using occupancy based controls to control VAV system. Examples of this include using occupancy sensors or light level sensors to turn down air flows when a space is unoccupied.  Mark followed his presentation with a lively discussion with the APEM membership about retrofitting variable air volume systems.   

Next, Mike Bailey shared two case studies of HVAC system retrofits.  The first example was of a four story office building which was designed to LEED standards but was operating with high energy costs. Changes resulting from post-construction remodels were not incorporated into the controls system and monitoring was not continued past the initial system start up.  Lessons include the necessity of funding for updating the controls system after major building updates are made.

The second example Mike shared was of a small limited service hotel built to LEED Gold standards which also operated with extremely high energy use.  An audit revealed that there were very high winter electrical load peaks because they were using electrical energy for heating.  Lessons include the necessity of life-cycle costing to evaluate design options.

Chris Lowen wrapped up the Winter Forum with his presentation on Continuous Commissioning. He started with discussing the many different ways the industry refers to various commissioning strategies. He categorized the strategies into three main buckets: retro-commissioning, ongoing commissioning and monitoring based commissioning. Commissioning is important to ensure a building is operating correctly. Chris mentioned that retro-commissioning a building is important because a building can drift by as much as 1% each year after initial commissioning is completed. He went on to discuss an online software tool that provides reasonable end use break outs for buildings. Chris wrapped up his presentation with a case study of the McDonald’s Plaza.


Chris Lowen, Glumac, Presentation Part 1  

Chris Lowen, Glumac, Presentation Part 2

Mark Kinzer, Abacus

Mike Bailey, P.E. Energy Trust Of Oregon

Fall 2014 Forum    

The Upcoming Lighting Revolution

October 3, 2014

Sure, LEDs can save energy and last a long time, but as solid state devices, they are also very versatile performers. Their controllability allows for color temperature tuning according to human needs. This represents a paradigm shift for designers, specifiers and end users. How will this impact building codes and affect incentive programs? The benefits of lighting in the future will go well beyond just meeting light level and watts per square foot requirements. How will tunable lighting affect human performance, mood, health and productivity? When do we recommend and how do we specify these advanced lighting features? Welcome to the new lighting revolution. And welcome to the Oregon APEM Fall Forum!

The Fall Forum was an entertaining and educational discussion about the future of lighting for both energy efficiency and for the human factor. We heard the main presentation from Rod Heller who flew into Oregon just for this event and a presentation by Robert Dupuy a local lighting designer. After a catered lunch we participated in a lively panel discussion with the two presenters and Tony Adams, who has worked at Intel, designed fixtures, and is currently a consultant. 

The common theme throughout the presentations was how rapidly the world of lighting is changing. As Rod Heller put it “Lighting technology has progressed from a glowing piece of metal to a computer chip.” This is causing a large shift in the lighting manufacturing industry since the traditional big three lamp companies did not produce computer chips – although some of them have been recently purchasing newer companies that do. Rod even referred to the new lighting technology the next “dot com” type of industry, indicating that it is on the edge of a huge increase. The pace at which LEDs are advancing are unprecedented in the history of lighting. While there are now many products on the market generating 60-100 lumens per watt, this year CREE announced that they have developed a chip that generates over 300 lumens per watt. While these chips are not commercially available, it illustrates how far the LED industry can go in the future. This is why Rod believes that every light source available today will be replaced by LEDs in the future.   

Rod Heller’s company is primarily a lighting retrofit company – retrofitting existing lighting systems with a focus on energy conservation and simple paybacks. These types of projects are often driven by a need to create a reasonable payback for owners to install them. From a retrofitter’s perspective, LEDs are viable today for all exterior lighting upgrade opportunities, and they have been for the last year and a half. The only areas where LEDs are viable for most interior applications (on a strict payback level) is in replacing MR-16 and other incandescent and halogen style flood lamps. (Of course, for new construction projects today, LEDs can be used in most interior applications with just a slight increase in initial cost). 

LEDs are changing so fast, and there are so many new companies involved, it is hard to keep abreast of the changes. Just recently, inthe last few months, have LED 2’x4’ upgrade opportunities really made stride towards cost effectiveness for retrofitting – they are almost there but are still primarily implemented by those wanting to be on the cutting edge of technology, rather than strictly as a cost saving business opportunity. As recently as this year the “LED – T8 replacement” lamps have been something that Rod would not seriously consider, but with the very recent introduction by a traditional “Tier 1” company (Philips), he is considering them seriously for upgrades. 
Rod also talked a lot about the how artificial light impacts human health. For millions of years we spent 90% of our time outdoors under the blue sky, and we slept in total darkness. The only time we would have seen “orange” colored light would be around the fire before going to bed. 

Very recently scientists have discovered that the ipRGC’s (intrinsically photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells) in our eyes (separate from the rods and cones) seem very receptive to “blue” colored light, and they also seem to impact our circadian rhythms. When our eyes see this blue light we stop producing melatonin, and we often feel alert. Likewise, the orange light produced by lower Kelvin colored lamps may be predisposed to make us sleepy. Rod is therefore a big proponent of using blue colored lighting in office environments; to both help keep us alert at work and to help our eyes see more clearly. Rod uses 8,500K lamps in his office, most of his coworkers use 5,000K – 6,000K lamps, and some still choose the traditional warm colors of 2,700K or 3,500K, but they are in the minority at his company, where everyone is given the opportunity to choose their own color lamps. 

Our current society demands we wake before the sun rises and go to bed after the sun goes down – this has only been happening for a couple hundred years. Today we spend 80% of our time indoors – thus Rod feels that the artificial light that people work under should be primarily designed with people’s health in mind – energy codes notwithstanding. Of course, by designing artificial light for people’s health, we would be using dimmable and color changing LEDs, which are by their nature very energy efficient, so the energy used would be below current energy codes anyway. 

Robert Dupuy is a lighting designer that focuses on providing lighting for the elderly. The IESNA lighting handbook recommends much higher light levels for older people. This is due to the lens of our eye discoloring as we age (getting yellower). This yellowing of the lens blocks some light from entering, which is why our eyesight deteriorates with age, and why we need higher light levels to see well as we age. 

During the Q&A session the panel (Heller, Robert DupuyTony Adams) was asked if LEDs are being used for outdoor stadium opportunities, and the three panelists all agreed that today they are not ready, but ask again in a few months. Then one of the vendors in attendancespoke up, and announced that Centurylink Field in Seattle is being retrofitted with LEDs this year, the new Atlanta football/soccer stadium is being built with LED lighting, and the site of the next Superbowl will be retrofitted with LEDs. The high light levels recommended by the IESNA handbook for outdoor playing fields that are televised are based on the needs of film equipment technology that is 30 years old. The new film equipment does not need the light levels to be so high, especially when the LEDs produce a more even light level throughout the playing field. They can accomplish this because LEDs are a directional light source that can more be directed more easily than conventional metal halide lighting used traditionally on these fields. Another vendor in the audience mentioned that they have made a custom pole fixture that spreads light in an “L” shape for a biking path – a feat that could only be accomplished by LEDs. 

• Rod Heller, Energy Performance Lighting (  Presentation #1 / Presentation #2

• Robert Dupuy, Robert Dupuy Consulting (  Presentation

• Tony Adams, Evergreen Consulting (

Summer 2014 Forum    

Brewing Up Energy Savings

June 6, 2014
Widmer Brewery, Portland

 The Oregon APEM 2014 Summer Forum, Brewing up Energy Savings, was hosted at the Widmer Brewery.  The day was kicked off with an introduction from Kurt Widmer who discussed the history of the brewery. Widmer sustainability efforts focus on reducing energy, water and resource consumption. Energy reduction was achieved through equipment upgrades and employee awareness.

The second speaker, Rob Del Mar from Oregon Department of Energy, provided insight into the practicality of solar thermal projects.  Solar thermal systems are often viable when photovoltaic systems are not. The brewing process requires significant heat input and solar thermal systems are a good way to preheat city water prior to the water entering the brewing process. Several local breweries already utilize solar thermal heating in their facilities. The presentation also included a demonstration of online monitoring for solar thermal systems. As with any energy system, monitoring can result in additional efficiency and savings.

After a short networking break Tom Hudson from PCC presented on the benefits of refrigeration controls. New controls are being developed that will allow walk-in refrigeration systems to cool spaces more efficiently. Mr. Hudson also spoke about some work he is involved in that utilizes the refrigeration control technology to help save bee populations from the mite epidemic that is currently causing colony collapse.  

Paul Kuck from Ecova shared his experiences with efficiency projects for commercial kitchens. There are several resources that facilities can utilize for energy efficient design in commercial kitchens including the Food Service Technology Center. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) and Energy Star have certification programs for foodservice technologies.

After lunch the Student Project of the Year award was presented to Stephen MacDonald, Chazrick Branson, and Daniel Shaw for their Energy Northwest Hydrolysis Plant Design Project. The Oregon State University-Cascades students provided a brief presentation explaining the project and answering questions from the audience.

David Yudkin, Co-owner of Hot Lips Pizza, and Howard Bales, Principle Technologist at Old Growth Systems, provided two case studies of efficiency projects at Hot Lips restaurants and bottling process. The summer forum concluded with a tour of the Widmer brewery.


Robert Del Mar, Oregon DOE

Thomas Hudson, Portland Community College

Paul Kuck, Ecova

Student Project of the Year Presentation: Chazrick Branson, Daniel Shaw, Stephen MacDondald

Spring 2014 Forum    

Keepin’ It Cool, How to Get The Most Out of Your Chilled Water Plant

March 7, 2014
United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290 Union Hall and Training Center, Portland

The Oregon APEM 2014 Spring Forum, “Keepin’ It Cool, How to Get the Most Out of Your Chilled Water Plant” on March 7, 2014 was a huge success.  The forum was held at United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 290 Union Hall and Training Center.  The day was kicked off by Greg Nelson who gave us an introduction to Chiller terms, vocabulary and some basics about mechanical cooling. He discussed the differences between air cooled systems and water cooled systems. Greg then went on to discuss the difference between scroll chillers, screw chillers, and centrifugal chillers and the different capacity and chiller efficiency  associated with each system for both  air cool and water cooled systems.  After discussing some key differences between air-cooled and water-cooled systems for decision-making purposes, Greg finished his presentation by highlighting primary and secondary pump efficiencies. 

We then heard from a panel of speakers starting with Henry Verde, a representative from Carrier, who gave us a quick look at Carrier’s interactive “Building System Optimizer”.  By choosing a building type, location, system performance level, and other variables, Carrier’s program compares two different system options side by side. This program can be useful for anyone looking to purchase a new system or replace an existing system. It gives a company the opportunity to evaluate specific chillers relative to their unique environment.

Daniel Driver, a representative of Oregon Trane, discussed in more detail the differences between air-cooled and water-cooled systems and the expense involved with installing a new system or retrofitting an old system.  Daniel recommended looking for the “Sweet spots” for a system between highest efficiency and low initial costs.  The price for the chiller is not the only cost that should be considered. In some cases additional piping, a new mechanical room, or controls for tower/pump/refrigerant monitoring may need to be added for the system to work properly. 

Anthony Tomasi, a representative from Johnson Controls discussed basic types of “packaged” chillers available today and their most common applications, recent advancements in technology, rough idea of costs vs. efficiencies, and most common chiller system pitfalls. 

We wrapped up the panel with Michael Wilson, a representative from McQuay, who talked about magnetic bearing chillers. Magnetic bearing chillers minimize efficiency losses and mechanical complexity inherent to traditional centrifugal chillers. Magnetic bearings have less than 0.2% the friction losses compared to conventional roller or ball bearing designs. The rotor shaft is held in position with electromagnetic cushions. These continually change in field strength to keep the shaft centrally positioned. The shaft’s position is monitored by ten sensor coils whose signals are fed back to a digital controller 

After the panel Doug Hansberry discussed chiller plant efficiency, with a focus on CW and CHW temperature reset, centrifugal chiller adjustable frequency drivers (AFDs), and variable primary pumping (VPP). He explained that these are three means for improving energy efficiency in water cooled chiller plants: adjustable frequency drives (AFDs) on chiller compressor motors, condenser water temperature reset, and variable primary flow. But are the savings claimed by the manufacturers really true?  How cold can you run the condenser water system before running into problems?  How is the condenser water system temperature controlled?  How do you retrofit a fixed primary system to variable flow and how is it controlled?   Do the economics work?  Doug Hansberry discussed the results of retrofitting these technologies to a very large chiller plant at a large semiconductor facility. Decreasing CW temperature eliminates wasted work done by the compressor. This strategy can be applied to existing plants. 

After lunch Don Snodgrass briefly discussed chiller maintenance. Don explained that the amount of time spent on each machine makes a big difference on the machines overall efficiency.  In order to get the most out of your chiller you should be spending the proper time maintaining the machine. Some basic steps that can help maximize efficiency are, stay on top of maintenance, cleaning tubes annually, and oil analysis.

Jerry Bogorad, the Director of Facility Operations at OMSI provided a brief history of OMSI and background regarding recent chiller upgrade.  His presentation included a time lapse video of the old chiller being removed and the new chiller being lowered into the mechanical room.  

Peter Mobery, gave us an overview of the OMSI Chiller upgrade. The areas of focus were energy modeling, engineering design, and commissioning. The analyses process was fieldwork, creating building geometry, modeling systems, creating schedules, and calibrating models. The original system was a 205 ton heat recovery chiller, 2,480 MBH heating capacity, and a 500 ton cooling only chiller capacity with standard efficiency boilers (7000 MBH). The heat recovery chiller made hot water from 90°F up to 130°F depending on outside air temperature and available cooling load. The conservation measures evaluated in this project were to replace the chiller, separate the chiller from projector room, replace data room air conditioner, replace pneumatic controls with DDC, add VFDs to AHUs, add airside economizers, and add CO2 DCV to AHUs. The results of this analysis was that the energy saving were not as high as expected, and initially showed payback of less than ten years.

Lyn Schmidt from the Energy Trust discussed the role incentives played in the project at OMSI and gave a brief overview of potential support the Energy Trust could provide for other projects. 

Mike Wilson, wrapped up the OMSI discussion by comparing the old  OMSI chillers with the new equipment that was installed. OMSI had a McQuay heat recovery chiller nominal 200 ton and a McQuay Centrifugal nominal 500 ton. These were replaced with a McQuay Templifier chiller nominal 190 ton (the purpose was to reduce gas demand from the boilers) and a Daikin/McQuay magnetic bearing centrifugal nominal 550 ton. The problem with these machines is that the centrifugal would not unload, the heat recovery was beating itself to death, the control system could not optimize, and they could not install air side economizers. OMSI now saves energy because the centrifugal chiller now has superior part load to 15%, the heat recovery has more compressors in the chiller, control system now optimizes chiller changeover, and the boilers are tuned and more efficient. Some other benefits to this upgrade was magnetic bearings use no oil or oil management. Efficiency will remain consistent since there is no oil, and very low maintenance.

In addition to having many wonderful speakers also had a chance to talk to multiple chiller manufacturer’s representatives and vendors for chilled water system components during multiple networking breaks.


Doug Hansberry 

Jerry Bogorad

Lyn Schmidt

Oregon Air Reps

Greg Nelson

Henry Verde

Michael Wilson

Anthony Tomasi