Enginuity Sets a Progressive Standard for Energy and Cost Savings

By GREENSTAR | 07/29/2013

Located in Mechanicsburg, PA, Corporate Center 15 was built in 1989 to serve as office space for local companies. Szeles Real Estate Management Company (Szeles) bought the building in 2010 after it went into foreclosure, and was immediately interested in updating the building both cosmetically and mechanically. “When we bought the building, the controls had been neglected for years and were outdated. The building’s electric costs were over $3.50 per square foot in a building that was only 60 percent occupied,” says Todd Shutt, Property Manager at Szeles Real Estate Development. That’s when Szeles reached out to Jeff Winterborne, a partner at Enginuity, LLC (Mechanicsburg, PA), to devise a renovation plan.
Enginuity, a company that’s name is a play on the words engineering and ingenuity, was founded in 2002 by Jeff Winterborne and his two business partners, James Elash and Jim Mooney. Specializing in commercial and industrial HVAC and plumbing work, Enginuity has received praise both locally and nationally. They have landed on lists such as Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Hot 100” list, featuring the fastest-growing new companies in the United States, Inc. 5000’s annual ranking of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the country, and Central Penn Business Journal’s “50 Fastest-Growing Companies” (an honor the company received four years in a row). Enginuity’s success at Corporate Center 15 serves as an example of the high-quality work that the company has put out in the past decade.

The Energy Audit

Winterborne and energy engineer JP Kloske started the renovation process with an energy audit. The primary purpose of this audit was to: 1) monitor the building to get a feel for how the mechanical systems were functioning and, 2) assess whether the lights were working effectively and efficiently. Enginuity collected over a year’s worth of Corporate Center 15’s utility data and used this data to establish a benchmark to measure against future developments. Enginuity also used ENERGY STAR®’s online Portfolio Manager tool to calculate the building’s ENERGY STAR rating at the time. Throughout the monitoring process, Enginuity found that one of the key areas of improvement would have to be in the building’s lighting system. Corporate Center 15’s scheduling system was not set up in a way that allowed Szeles to take advantage of night and weekend setback opportunities.  Additionally, the building’s temperature control system was inefficiently heating and cooling. Lastly, the building’s lights were not being regulated properly, which was causing certain lights to remain on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Planning for Success

After evaluating the audit results, Enginuity devised a two-part plan. The first part of the plan required updating all fluorescent lighting from T12 to T8 — a project that was outsourced to a subcontractor. The second part of the plan was to overhaul the building’s automation system. Enginuity was able to reuse 50 percent of the building’s original Trane system and replace the other 50 percent with a new Trane tracer. Although these developments were the most time and energy intensive, they resulted in the highest return on investment for Corporate Center 15.
Through the successful implementation of these two developments, Enginuity increased the building’s ENERGY STAR rating by 120 percent, from a score of 31 to a score of 68. Additionally, Enginuity was able to cut the 56,000 ft2 building’s cost per square-foot from $3.50/ftto $1.83/ft2 (saving Szeles approximately $94,000). The total cost of the project was $101,200. However, this cost was cut in half as a result of custom rebates amounting to $50,000 in incentives. Overall, Enginuity has achieved annual savings of 227,749 kWh and $47,743 for Szeles.
While the project was a huge success, it came with quite a few challenges. Winterborne says, “All of this had to be done while the building was occupied. We had to minimize the discomfort to the tenants, which is always the biggest challenge in a project like this. If you’re overhauling a substantial portion of the control system, you have to take things offline periodically. Logistically, it becomes very challenging.” To overcome this challenge, Jeff and his team worked evenings and weekends.

Energy Savings + New Business = Everybody Wins

The savings earned from Enginuity’s work with Szeles on Corporate Center 15 has prompted the owners to employ Enginuity to work on multiple green projects at their other properties. It has also motivated Enginuity to expand its energy department. Winterborne says, “Our goal is to have a small group functioning completely separately from the company that is devoted to just energy work.” The nine-month return on investment on a project that only took three months to complete, coupled with substantial improvements in the overall efficiency of Corporate Center 15, makes this project a huge success.