Sud Associates, Durham, North Carolina
2,200 Sq. Feet
Annual Cash Savings: $646
Annual Energy Savings: 5,123 kWh
Payback period: 6.2 years
Prevented 7,790 lbs of pollution
When Sud Associates, P.A., an engineering consulting firm located in Durham, N.C., purchased a 2,200-sq.ft. building, its President, Ish Sud, quickly discovered the opportunity for a sure-fire investment. He knew that spending a little money to make the building more energy efficient would generate substantial savings in energy costs.
Sud found that the building’s cooling equipment did not maintain comfortable indoor temperatures in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day. In addition, newly added computer equipment generated even more heat, exacerbating the problem. As the outdoor temperature soared, the indoor temperature reached a scorching 85 degrees Fahrenheit-and the higher the heat, the more employee morale and productivity suffered.
Instead of beginning the upgrade with the costly replacement of the old, insufficiently sized heating and cooling unit, Sud started smart. He began the upgrade with some inexpensive and much-needed maintenance. First, he focused on the supply and return air ducts. He applied insulation to the return air ducts, then he reconnected one supply air duct that had fallen and was dumping cooled air into the attic space. He also cleaned both the indoor and outdoor heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) coils, removing leaves and debris that were hindering heat transfer and reducing the equipment’s cooling capacity. These maintenance measures cost Sud very little and changed a marginally effective system into one capable of maintaining comfortable working conditions throughout the hot summer. In addition, Sud installed a programmable thermostat to allow for night and weekend setbacks, further reducing energy use.
Sud was aware that much of the new building was overlit. He also knew he could see quick energy savings if he reduced the number of lights, so, where practical, he changed the 4-lamp fixtures in the building to 2-lamp fixtures. This simple step slashed the lighting bill nearly in half. Next he installed occupancy sensors that cost only $65 apiece in sections of the building frequently unoccupied, such as the copier room and the break areas. These sensors reduced the time the lights were on in these areas by 65 percent.
In September 1996, the HVAC compressor gasped its last breath and had to be replaced. Although the cost may seem like a burden to a small business, replacing HVAC equipment is a great opportunity to reduce energy costs. Sud, after weighing the pros and cons, knew it made financial sense to replace his failing HVAC system with a new energy-efficient model.
The new heating system installed by Sud included a gas furnace with an energy-efficient electronic ignition instead of a standing pilot that operated by constantly releasing gas. The new system delivered greater comfort to employees while cutting electricity and gas costs. This new energy-efficient system cost a few hundred dollars more than a comparable standard HVAC system, but the investment was quickly recovered in dramatic energy savings. The new furnace used 20 percent less gas than the old system, saving more than $100 per year. In spite of the unusually warm summer, the new HVAC system used 15 percent less electricity to cool the building, adding another $100 in savings to the bottom line.