ACHRNEWS

Chiller Group in Magnificent Form

August 30, 2010
Contractor David Gough, Mac Donald Miller, joins Dan Thatcher and Mark Platt, both of Mag-Lev Division of Multistack, in an exhibit area during the Chiller Systems Group semi-annual meeting at the Chicago Fairmont Hotel Millennium Park.

CHICAGO - The Chiller Systems Group held its Spring 2010 meeting in style along the area known as the Magnificent Mile, one of the most popular shopping and sightseeing destinations in the United States. The Fairmont Hotel Millennium Park played host to Chiller System Group (CSG) member companies in attendance during the three-day semi-annual event.

For some avid golfers, the CSG meeting began at the Harborside International course just minutes from downtown Chicago. Some, such as Steering Committee and the Controls Group members, used the first day to begin much-needed business discussions. The majority of the nearly 100 attendees began the festivities with an evening welcome reception before starting two days of technical and strategic sessions. The agenda included several full roundtable discussions with key presenters, often from supporting supplier companies. Some of the topics included a Rockwell presentation on variable-speed drive offerings, a Building Advice/Air Advice software tool to provide testing and retro-commissioning on buildings, electronic reporting for turbine overhauls, and vibration analysis on chillers and fans.

CSG BEGINNINGS

The CSG is a network of independent contractors throughout the United States dedicated to knowledge sharing and training to provide building owners the highest level of chiller service. The group works with chiller manufacturers to provide members technical training and information in a timely manner. Meetings are held semi-annually to exchange technical data, best practices, and stay current on manufacturer and supplier capabilities. In addition to the semi-annual meetings and training, members share technical information daily through an e-mail user group.

CSG has been providing highly detailed chiller training to its members since 1994. The CSG was formed by a number of cooperating contractors because, often, training for chillers was slow in getting from manufacturers to contractors, so contractors took matters into their own hands in order to better serve their respective customers.

Today, CSG is comprised of about 46 member companies and three individual members. The exclusive group usually has a waiting list for membership, but prefers to maintain a comfortable number of members, according to John Bevington, the membership committee chairperson. Bevington is with ChillCo, a mechanical contracting company in Mandeville, La. The CSG collectively services more than 10,000 chillers each year.

The various CSG committees that members participate in include steering, publicity, education, website, and technical and individual committees that are specifically focused on these chiller manufacturing companies: York, McQuay, Smardt, Mag-Lev, Trane, and Carrier.

CHILLER CHANGEOUT STATUS

Tim Kensok, of Air Advice, presented a session entitled Accelerating the Sales Cycle of Central Plant Retrofits. According to Kensok, “Chiller project dollars are scarce at this time. Owners, who may have changed out a system three years ago, are now asking ‘How can you get me another five years out of this thing?’ And, any relationship that may have given you a sole source bid opportunity is more likely overruled by the accountants.”

The discussion that ensued between Kensok and CSG members revolved around the question: Will customers pay for an energy audit that might be used to justify a bigger investment in chiller replacements? The consensus appeared to suggest that energy analysis of simply the chiller may not be enough to sway an owner’s decision given current tight-fisted budgeting. Analysis of the entire central plant or even an entire building analysis might be what is actually needed by an owner.

As to whether an owner would pay for this analysis remains a mystery for some contractors, while others present at the meeting said they have successfully charged for such audits.

Publication date: 08/30/2010