It isn’t just the small business owners and homeowners who are looking to increase the energy efficiency of their buildings and homes — it’s the big utility companies as well. One recent example of how a utility company is serving its commercial building owners by upgrading to more energy efficient mechanical systems is Veolia Energy North America and its district energy network in Los Angeles.

Veolia Energy’s district energy network supplies chilled water for cooling to 20 commercial office buildings in downtown Los Angeles and Century City, representing nearly 12 million square feet of space. The investment in new HVAC equipment has helped make Veolia Energy’s district energy network even more energy-efficient for its customers.

Chiller Investment

Veolia Energy acquired the Los Angeles network in late 2007 and determined that the three rotating engine-driven chillers in place were not sufficiently energy efficient. After assessing its options and searching for new technology, Veolia Energy found Trane HVAC equipment to be the best fit, and then identified that the company qualified for an efficiency rebate from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) for making this investment. The upgrades to the duplex chillers began in June 2009 and were completed in December 2010, with the Trane equipment meeting parameters involving performance tests and guarantees.

“Within three months of on-site work, we installed the equipment and had it up and running, trained up to eight Veolia Energy technicians, and completed our commissioning — all ahead of schedule,” said Lee Ostrander, Trane account manager. “We are proud to support Veolia Energy’s commitment to environmental and operational excellence.”

Rebate for Efficiency

Last year, Veolia Energy was recognized by the LADWP for its efforts to reduce energy costs and carbon footprints in the commercial buildings it serves throughout Los Angeles. In June 2011, the LADWP presented Veolia Energy with a $420,000 rebate check for its increased energy efficiency. “Whenever we evaluate capital investment opportunities for equipment or infrastructure upgrades, our capital budgeting process factors in whether or not rebates are available to offset a portion of the investment required,” said Sanders.

In a press release prior to the awarding of the rebate check, David Jordan, general manager of Veolia Energy Los Angeles, said, “Our decision to install the Trane equipment is part of our company-wide effort to continually invest and upgrade our district energy networks across the country. Not only do these investments reduce fuel consumption, they also demonstrate our commitment to our clients, and to our future, by contributing to a more environmentally sustainable infrastructure.”

Sanders noted that Veolia Energy customers were made aware of the changes — and they saw immediate benefits once the replacement equipment was installed.

“We made our clients aware of the new chillers by promoting and hosting an open house for clients at our plant in June 2011,” he said. “Our efficient energy solutions help customers to conserve their capital, lower their operating costs, and preserve building space for revenue generation, by avoiding the need for boilers and chillers in each building. Each customer does not need to install and maintain its own HVAC plant, fuel supply, and HVAC supervisors and employees, thus saving on cost and space, and allowing each customer to maximize operating efficiencies through utilizing Veolia Energy’s network.”

Sanders added that he sees the potential for collaboration with Trane on future projects, too. “With our existing scale, and with our desire to expand, there is clearly potential for additional projects with Trane,” he said.

Sidebar: Veolia Energy Fast Facts

According to Rowan Sanders, director of marketing and communications for Veolia Energy North America, the company owns and operates more than 800 district energy networks globally and networks in 14 cities in the United States. “These networks serve a range of customers in a variety of industries, including hospitals, universities, office buildings, hotels, industry, retail, arenas, convention centers, high-rise condos, and churches,” he said.

Veolia Energy North America’s thermal energy production capacity:

• 11.6 million lb/hour of steam

• 449 MMBtu of hot water

• 269,694 tons of chilled water

• 111 miles of steam/hot water distribution pipes

• 34 miles of chilled water distribution pipes

Publication date: 6/4/2012