L.A. HVAC Restoration Project Wins TOBY Award

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff April 25, 2005

Ernst & Young Plaza in downtown Los Angeles was recently named a 2004 winner of The Office Building of the Year (TOBY) Award by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles (BOMA/GLA). The recognition is due, in large part, to a new solution for “fine-tuning” HVAC systems that incorporates 3M Filtration technology. The resulting reduction in energy usage is saving the building’s owners thousands of dollars annually in electricity costs.

Renovation work on the heating, cooling and air-handling systems of the 41-story, 900,000+ square foot Ernst & Young Plaza, owned by Trizec Properties, Inc., began last year after Patrick Adams, the building’s Chief Engineer, was challenged by his management to find ways to improve the building’s energy efficiency. Adams knew that the Penn Air Group, a Los Angeles-based service provider and consulting firm specializing in HVAC systems, had developed a rigorous new protocol for improving the efficiencies of older air handling systems. Penn Air’s Steve Clarke was confident he could produce substantial savings at Ernst & Young Plaza.

“The building’s HVAC systems were operating in an over-pressurized state, which was standard procedure 20 years ago,” says Clarke. “This had caused a lot of wear and tear on the system, and the resulting inefficiencies meant the fans had to work harder and use more energy to keep up with the demand.”

Penn Air’s major objective was to “calm down” the system to reduce the load on the fans. Beyond performing routine repair and maintenance tasks, one of their main strategies for accomplishing this was to replace the system’s existing filters with new Filtrete(tm) Commercial High Performance HVAC Filters from 3M.

“Filtrete filters are made from an electrostatically charged blown microfiber that combines high particle capture efficiency with low pressure drop,” Clarke explains. “Essentially this means that the fibers tend to block dirt but not the flow of air, so less energy is needed to circulate air through the system, helping reduce demand on the fans.”

After just four weeks on the job, the Penn Air crew had succeeded in returning the Ernst & Young Plaza’s HVAC systems back to an improved state. According to Adams, “The tuned-up system also helps maintain temperature more evenly, and keeps the air noticeably cleaner.”

The TOBY award was instituted in 1985 by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) to recognize excellence in commercial office building management. Awards for buildings in several size and type categories are presented annually by local BOMA chapters. Winners can go on to compete at the regional level and at the BOMA International Convention in June.

For more information on 3M Building Environment Solutions call 1-800-648-3550.

For more information on the Penn Air Group visit pennairgroup.com .