First City Tower
1001 Fannin Suite 230
Houston, TX 77002
First City Tower is a premier Class A property designed by S.I. Morris and constructed in 1981. The 49-story office tower is comprised of about 1.4 million square feet. Located in the center of downtown Houston, First City Tower is conveniently connected to covered parking, a shopping center, a private dining and athletic club, and the Four Seasons Hotel. The building is attached to the extensive tunnel system that runs throughout downtown Houston.
Although the building was considered energy efficient when its doors first opened, a number of "green" initiatives have been developed during the life of the building. Ownership saw a need to implement these green initiatives to reduce negative impacts to the environment and reverse unsustainable building activities. From an economic perspective, green building initiatives can substantially reduce operating costs and improve building marketability. The building owners challenged CB Richard Ellis to put these objectives into practice.
The building has worked to implement green initiatives in the daily operation of the building from water conservation and indoor air quality measures to green cleaning and recycling programs. The programs continue to evolve as better ways of protecting the environment and reducing costs are established. Our philosophy is that we must take every measure we can today to help protect the environment and that we should be willing to adapt new ways of maintaining the building as greater discoveries are made.
Electricity use dropped from an average of 30,000,000 kilowatts (KW) per year in the late 90's with 95 percent occupancy to 22,229,518 KW in 2009. Our goal by the end of 2010 is to reduce annual usage to 20,000,000 KW per year.
First City Tower utilizes a computerized preventive maintenance (PM) management system to identify preventive maintenance and service tasks for the property. The system allows for maintenance comments and all procedures required so that the engineers can maintain a history of repairs for each piece of equipment. The PM program--in conjunction with vibration analysis on all motors, infrared analysis on all electrical systems, and oil analysis and eddy-current analysis on the chillers--contributes toward our savings goal.
During the past 5 years, First City Tower has completed many improvements to building operating systems. We replaced the original Johnson Control 8540 building control system with a new Metasys system. Seventy percent of the building has been converted to direct digital control (DDC) technology. We have rebuilt the cooling tower with high efficiency fill and fan blades, replaced the four outside air units, which are rated at 210 tons each, and replaced one 680 ton chiller rated at .703 KW/ton with one that uses .623 KW/ton. The four 980 ton chillers were retrofitted for R-134A and included replacement of the evaporator and condenser water tubes with high-efficiency tubes. We installed variable frequency drives (VFDs) on all motors that were 15hp or greater. This included the installation of VFDs on chill water and condenser water pumps for the chillers. Automated outside air dampers were installed, along with CO2 sensors in each air handler room.
All of these changes and modifications have given us the ability to monitor and manage the building systems with precision. We are using exactly what is needed to keep the tenants comfortable without wasting energy by generating excess cooling or heating.
The building is heated with hot water generated from three 10,000,000 BTU fire tube boilers. All three boilers are well maintained and have been retrofitted and modified to meet federal carbon monoxide emission standards.
The five-cell cooling tower is located on the 45th floor. The tower renovation began in 2002. The cooling tower was stripped down to the structural support and rebuilt with all new material, including a DDC-controlled bypass system. The 15-year-old fan motor VFDs were replaced in 2007, contributing to the savings goal.
The water treatment system was entirely replaced in 2004 with a new computer-controlled Nalco system. This state-of-the-art water treatment system continuously monitors and adjusts the water chemicals. The results are clean heat transfer surfaces and lower energy costs. In addition, the building added a water softener to the makeup water system, which doubles the number of cycles the water can be used by reducing calcium and magnesium hardness. All of the cooling tower water is metered to ensure proper sewer credit.
There are approximately 110 air handlers and 1,060 variable air volume (VAV) boxes in the building. Each of the tenant floors, from the second floor to the 47th floor, has two air handlers and 30 VAV boxes in a dual duct distribution system. Seventy percent of the building air handling units (AHU) and VAV boxes has been converted to DDCs.
A Schindler elevator modernization was completed in 2005. DDC controls and VFDs were added to the 30 elevators at First City Tower. In addition to better tenant service, the energy efficiency has improved, bringing us closer to our energy goal.
Ten years ago, the building and garage standard lighting was changed to T8 lamps from T12 lamps. The retrofit and subsequent changes have produced savings of 40 percent on lighting electric usage. In addition, the building light fixtures were retrofitted with new energy-efficient ballasts and re-lamped. High-efficiency LED exit lights have been installed on every floor. Infrared occupancy sensors for light switches were added in restrooms and in tenant suites. As new space is built out, the building standard recommendations include T-8 and T-5 lighting and occupancy sensors.
A key area for controlling energy costs is optimum operation and maintenance of the equipment and the systems. Ensuring all equipment is functioning as designed, calibrating thermostats, adjusting dampers, maintaining clean filters and coils, and developing procedures for building security and janitorial staff to assist in monitoring energy use is instrumental in running the building efficiently.
Effective energy management is the responsibility of everyone at First City Tower. In addition to improving control systems and equipment, we educate all employees and tenants on the benefits of controlling energy costs. After-hours lighting and HVAC requests may be made on the Internet or by touch-tone phone via the BAS system for only the amount of time needed.
As an added recognition that complements our involvement with ENERGY STAR and sustainable practices, in April of 2009, First City Tower became the first office building in the State of Texas to be awarded Gold certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Existing Building Operations & Maintenance rating system.
Please note: Narrative information in this profile has been provided by FC Tower Property Partners LP or a representative of this facility. Other building information was verified and submitted to EPA at the time of application. Building energy performance, operating characteristics, and ownership/management may be subject to change over time.
FC Tower Property Partners LP
FC Tower Property Partners LP
Year(s) Labeled (Rating):
Facility Type: Office
Total Floorspace: 1418916 sf
Year Constructed: 1981
Contract Type: None
|Stage 3-Load Reductions|
|Stage 4-Fan Systems|
|Stage 5-Heating and Cooling Plant|
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Houston, TX 77002