Hill York and ICORR Properties International Co-Author Energy Solutions for Success

By GREENSTAR | 05/30/2013

The One Sarasota Tower (Sarasota, FL), a 12-story, 142,000-square-foot commercial office building, has made monumental leaps in the energy efficiency world. In less than two years, One Sarasota Tower is now in the final stages of qualifying as an ENERGY STAR certified building, a designation which indicates the facility performs better than at least 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide.  The partnership between mechanical services contractor Hill York, and One Sarasota’s management team, ICORR Properties International, has been instrumental in boosting the building’s ENERGY STAR score from 36 to 82, a 144 percent increase. Rob Pulsifer, Director of Energy Service at Hill York, says, “It was very much a co-authored solution. Your client has got to work with you and lay out their expectations in areas such as return on investment and concerns on constructability. Our clients tell us what they want, and we bring the expertise to tell them what they can and cannot do.”

Invest in Savings

Based in Sarasota, FL, Hill York’s primary mission is to partner with their clients to determine the best possible solutions to reduce operating costs and reinvest savings to fund new cost-saving, energy-efficient programs.  The support for Hill York’s case is evident. Pulsifer says that there are two options a client can decide between:  invest in savings or invest in a utility company. The latter, “do nothing” approach keeps clients channeling their capital into a utility company. That being said, ICORR selected the first option.

A Class A Commercial Space

The first wave of energy solution development began in July 2010.  ICORR requested a short, three-year return on investment to drive the capital savings that could be reinvested into future improvements.  This scope of work involved the installation of advanced building controls, including demand control ventilation, optimal start time and variable frequency drive technology. The return on investment for this project was 2.2 years, exceeding ICORR’s expectations.  In addition, the actual savings realized exceed $77,000 per year.  With a 15-year expected life, this new equipment will allow ICORR to recognize savings just over one million dollars. Once Hill York proved that an energy project could pay for itself, there was no turning back. 
The excess savings of the equipment installed in Phase 1 were then reinvested into much-needed infrastructure improvements.  Pulsifer said, “One Sarasota Tower is a 1988, fully-occupied Class A office building that still had a lot of its original 24-year-old equipment in place.  Imagine a premium car with 300,000
miles on it — you might get in the car and everything is okay today, but it might not start tomorrow.”  In the second wave of development, the Hill York team installed new air handling units and magnetic bearing chillers, which offer superior efficiency and sound attenuation and are among the most efficient chillers in the market.  Here’s the catch — Hill York was able to implement this project in tandem with the old system still running.  Pulsifer says, “People thought we were crazy… but, we are a design build firm with our own professional engineers.  There was some risk involved, but the reward for the client was too significant to not take on the challenge.  It was smart, it was calculated, and it went off without a hitch.”  Between energy savings, operation reductions and maintenance reductions, this phase is expected to save ICORR over $100,000 annually.  
The final phase of development was a complete retrofit of the building’s VAV controls by way of system integration through Honeywell’s Trend line of controls.  The ICORR and Hill York teams can access and control the system from anywhere in the world via any Web-enabled device, including smartphones. Hill York’s energy engineers monitor this system regularly to help reduce costs and increase efficiency. 

More than Your Typical Incentive

The cost to implement these three phases (approximately $1.5 million) was offset by various incentives, including rebates from Florida Power & Light (FP&L).  One Sarasota’s complex and comprehensive energy program qualified for a rebate through FP&L’s demand control ventilation program.  ICORR also qualified for tax deductions under the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) 179D, a policy that provides immediate potential tax savings for building owners based on the use of energy efficient improvements. Pulsifer says, “There are a lot of sources that help fund energy programs outside of typical incentives, and it is important for other energy solution providers to know this.”

As a result of these energy developments, ICORR has seen 26 straight months of cost reductions on their utility bill.  The co-authored energy solutions have allowed for successful implementation of projects that continually increase savings.  In the most recent month of measurement, the client saved 45.7 percent in electric consumption over the baseline (the standard before any improvements were made). The annual energy saved from these projects amounts to approximately 1.4 million kWh, reducing the building’s overall energy consumption by 34 percent on average.  Not only will the new system last for approximately 20 years, but over this lifecycle, energy savings will also allow the system to pay for itself and generate an additional one million dollars in positive cash flow.  The benefits are hard to deny.  One Sarasota Tower will proudly display its ENERGY STAR plaque to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and prove that investing in energy savings is a worthwhile effort.