Project profile: Headquarters energy efficiency improvement

Franklin Energy saves 32% on electric, 48% on gas with VRF zoning systems.

By Auer Steel & Heating Supply Co. September 4, 2014

Project name: Franklin Energy headquarters

Project type: Existing building retrofit

Engineering Firm: Auer Steel & Heating Supply Co.

Building type: Office buildings

Location: Port Washington, WI

Timeline: January 2011 – January 2011

Project background

Franklin Energy moved its 10,000-sq-ft national headquarters into a historic structure on the shores of Lake Michigan in January 2011. The structure previously served as a city processing plant. The company had always made its headquarters a showcase for the firm’s approach to energy efficiency. The newest headquarters thus needs to continue this tradition.


Because of the building’s orientation and outdated glass windows, solar gain was a huge issue for HVAC system selection.


The first suggestion was to install a hydronic heat system in the new headquarters, but it was rejected because it was out of step with his high energy-efficiency goals. Auer Steel & Heating Supply’s then suggested a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) zoning system from Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating Division (Mitsubishi Electric). VRF zoning technology was an ideal choice for Franklin Energy for several reasons:

  • Ease of installation
  • Sound attenuation
  • Ability for load-sharing (not possible with conventional systems)
  • INVERTER-driven compressor
  • Small footprint and lightweight modularity of the outdoor units
  • Simultaneous cooling and heating ability

Project results

  • Electric Energy Usage: CBECS average – 17.9 kWh/ft2/yr; Franklin Energy actual – 12.2 kWh/ft2/yr (32% savings)
  • Gas Energy Usage: CBECS average – 42.3 ft3/ft2/yr; Franklin Energy actual – 21.9 ft3/ft2/yr (48% savings)