The Oxnard Civic Center Professional Building.
OXNARD, Calif. - Erected in 1973, the 12,000-square-feet Oxnard Civic Center Professional Building in downtown Oxnard is operational year round, and its 30-plus-year-old HVAC system was requiring constant repairs with bills often exceeding $10,000 annually.

The building's owner, Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez, had endured complaints from the tenants about the HVAC system for many years.

"Ever since I purchased this 12,000-square-foot professional building in 1983, I have had persistent and frequent complaints from 13 very disgruntled retail tenants and one 23rd District Congresswoman Lois Capps, who has an office in my building," said Lopez.

"For nearly 20 years, the temperatures in each of their spaces always ran either too hot or too cold. It was never right or balanced."

The entire ground floor was home to a number of Oxnard merchants, including a print shop and optician. The entire second floor was dedicated to office space, including the office of the mayor.

In spring of 2003, Steve Dishman of Kaiser Air Conditioning, Oxnard, advised Lopez to replace his worn-out equipment with state-of-the-art technology - a cooling and heating system that could provide individual zoning controls for each one of the building's retail and office tenants.

Six of the 22 Mr. Slim MXZ30TN outdoor inverter units during installation are shown here on the roof of the Oxnard Civic Center Professional Building.

Heat Wave Forces The Issue

In the spring of last year, Southern California experienced an early heat wave. Air conditioning systems throughout the state were put under enormous pressure, including in the mayor's office building. In March, eight different leaks were found in the coil of the old 30-ton air handler. The mayor decided to move on Dishman's proposal to replace the outdated HVAC system. But there was a problem.

The cost of raw materials - especially metals - had increased considerably from the prior year, resulting in higher material costs. During this period, the staff at Kaiser Air Conditioning attended a one-day seminar presented by Buddy Delaney, western regional manager for Mitsubishi Electric HVAC.

At this seminar, Dishman realized that the Mitsubishi Electric HVAC system - called Mr. Slim - demonstrated exactly what he needed to effectively cut back the incredible cost increases of the raw materials. He also recognized that the technology and innovative systems design would keep labor and installation costs down.

Resourceful use of existing duct chase allowed installers to run Mr. Slim piping and wiring from the inverter units on the roof down through the building to the 52 wall-mounted MSH09TW units, five MSH12TN units, and one MSH17TN wall-mounted unit in the offices and retail spaces below.
Dishman contacted his distributor, Derek Chan of US-Air Conditioning Distributors, Los Angeles, as well as the local representative, Bobby Hahn.

The result was an immediate decision to scrap the original plans and begin designing around the Mitsubishi Electric HVAC MXZ Inverter technology. Within a month, construction began with a completion date of June 30, 2004. The installation of the units allowed a 30 percent reduction in labor costs because a single master technician, along with two to six journeymen, was all that was needed on site.

Thirty-year-old equipment that had to be removed included a 30-ton air handler with a 15-hp blower motor, a 350-Btuh gas duct furnace, and two 15-ton condensers.

A Mr. Slim MSH09TW unit being installed in the office of Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez.

Complaints Conquered

With the conversion from an obsolete enthalpic (thermodynamic) system to a sleek, variable-frequency compression technology, today the Civic Center Professional Building is "the most perfectly balanced and zoned system in the entire city of Oxnard," said Dishman.

"The retail and office tenants are ecstatic to have their very own systems and controls," he added. "The previous system ran 24/7, 365 days a year, with either the whole building in heating mode or cooling mode. Aside from the initial cost savings for both labor and materials, the monthly electric bill has been cut in half. This was a real win-win for everyone.

"It has been almost a year, and I have yet to hear a single complaint from one of my tenants," said Lopez. "Each unit now has its own temperature control, and the improvement both in quality of life, and ability to get work done has improved remarkably."

Publication date: 10/24/2005