Project profile: Headquarters energy efficiency improvement

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




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

Franklin Energy moved its 10,000-square-foot national headquarters into a historic structure on the shores of Lake Michigan in January 2011. Courtesy: Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating Division

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Because of the building's orientation and outdated glass windows, solar gain was a huge issue for HVAC system selection.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

The VRF zoning system helped keep Franklin Energy’s office space comfortable all year, despite issues with solar gain. Courtesy: Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating DivisionProject 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)


Product of the Year
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
40 Under Forty: Get Recognized
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
MEP Giants Program
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
November 2018
Emergency power requirements, salary survey results, lighting controls, fire pumps, healthcare facilities, and more
October 2018
Approaches to building engineering, 2018 Commissioning Giants, integrated project delivery, improving construction efficiency, an IPD primer, collaborative projects, NFPA 13 sprinkler systems.
September 2018
Power boiler control, Product of the Year, power generation,and integration and interoperability
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
click me