IRVINE, Calif. - Mesa Energy Systems is installing a new, technologically advanced centrifugal compressor system designed to help cut operating costs for the Lakeshore Towers office building, located here.

"With energy costs on the rise, the building owners need to look at new technologies to save money on operating costs without reducing the quality of service they provide to tenants," said Tony Ghaffari, Mesa's director of engineering. "Our unique solution for the Lakeshore Towers building is the new Turbocor centrifugal compressor, which is replacing an older model reciprocating chiller."

According to Ghaffari, when a routine inspection was performed, the old compressor was found to be close to the end of its life cycle and to replace it with "an out-of-date piece of equipment was not an attractive alternative for our client."

Ghaffari recommended the Turbocor unit, as it is a variable-speed driven centrifugal compressor with a totally oil-free operation. The unit has an integrated part load value (IPLV) of 0.374, while a typical reciprocating compressor has an IPLV of 0.9 to 1.0.

"This means the new compressor is three times more efficient," said Ghaffari. "The unit also uses magnetic-bearing technology to reduce friction, wear, and create additional efficiencies. This is one of the technologies used in magnetic levitation, similar to Maglev trains in Europe."

For this project, the cost on an installed basis is 30 percent higher than the capital cost of a conventional piece of equipment, Ghaffari noted, "but annual energy savings and rebates offered by utility companies offset the initial cost of purchase and installation with payback in less than two years."

Another reason for the selection is because Lakeshore Towers is an Energy Star-labeled complex, a rating given by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that identifies buildings that meet and need to maintain certain energy efficiency standards. Mesa holds an annual equipment maintenance contract with Dorn-Platz Properties, the property management company at the 400,000-square-foot, 18-story, Class A office building.

"Dorn-Platz Properties prides itself on implementing new technologies whenever possible to reduce energy consumption and extend the life of equipment and systems," said Ghaffari. "The installation and use of the Turbocor unit will lower energy and operating costs while maintaining the quality of life for tenants."

According to Ghaffari, Mesa Energy Systems has five similar projects planned for other clients throughout California. Founded in 1983, Mesa is a wholly owned subsidiary of Emcor Group Inc., a Fortune 500 company with over $4.5 billion in annual revenues and a leader in mechanical and electrical construction, energy infrastructure, and facilities services.

Publication date: 12/06/2004