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Is it Greener to Retrofit than Build New?

We all know that building new green buildings is always a hot idea, but experts have been pushing the idea that retrofitting existing buildings with green upgrades provide more environmental benefits. Your first thought may be new = better however, there is now proof that these experts are correct from a report released earlier this year. The report found that it is unequivocally greener to retrofit an old building than construct a new green building, no matter how many high-tech bells and whistles are in the new construction. The report was drawn from “The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse” project which was commissioned by Preservation Green Lab.

Elizabeth Heider, chair of the board of directors at the USGBC said “The thought was in order to build green you have to build new.” However, the report numbers add up in favor of retrofits. The report states:

  • It can take between 10 and 80 years for a new energy-efficient building to overcome, through more efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts that come from construction.
  • Environmental savings from re-use are between 4 and 46 percent over new construction when comparing buildings with the same energy performance level
  • The negative environmental impact of retro green for human health was between 12 and 38 percent less than for new construction
  • When it comes to ROIs, retros showed a 19.2% increase in ROI versus 9.9% for new buildings

Case in point, retrofitting is the way to go! Bruner has a successful track record of helping our customers retrofit their mechanical systems for over 50 years. Let us assist you in developing a retrofit solution that works best for your building by contacting us today!

Boiler Replacement: Start to Finish in 4 Days

On Friday, February 17, around noon, Service Technician Steve Haag received a call from the Kroger regional office in Westerville indicating that they had a leak into the first floor offices below the mechanical room. Haag’s immediate action was to find the leak and identify its cause. Once at the Kroger office, he found that the leak was coming from their thirty-year-old Ajax fire tube boiler.

Project Engineer Chip Neville was contacted to come up with options for which to rectify the situation. “A repair of that style boiler requires special certification welding that only a couple of people in central Ohio have,” Neville said. “Unfortunately, our certified technician was out of town on another service until late the following week.” By the time he arrived at the Kroger office at about 2:30pm, Haag had the system opened and they found more than just a few tubes were leaking.

The two deduced that a repair was not an option and turned their focus toward a new system. Neville had checked options on his way over with Kevin McGovern Associates and Herbert & Conway, and while on site, he received pricing from both. With those costs in mind, the Bruner team discussed options with Kroger representatives with regards to equipment availability, efficiency, cost, and timing.

By 5:00pm that day, Neville presented firm budgets and a recommendation to Kroger’s Senior Engineer, Eric Wagonknecht, with a target of having the new boiler in place by the end of the following week.

Wagonknecht asked the Bruner team to proceed with a modular boiler option called EVO by Hamilton Engineering. Thanks to Kevin McGovern and the late night put in by the Hamilton Engineering team, the boiler was ordered and its assembly started by 6:00pm.

After tremendous effort by the entire Bruner team, the system was ready to be started by the end of the day Thursday – less than one week after discovering the problem. By 10:00am on Friday morning, the Bruner team had the heat back on in the building just as outdoor temperatures dropped. The replacement even managed to increase system efficiency from 76 to 95 percent.

Thanks to the Bruner team for their incredible diligence and efficiency in delighting our customer with excellent service: Steve Haag, Larry Carver, Don McNeal, and Rocky Carr, with assistance from Kevin McGovern Associates and Hamilton Engineering.

If you’re worried about your mechanical systems, check out our e-book for 9 tips to keep them in tip-top shape!

Is Your HVAC System Prepared for April Showers?

With April showers well on their way, one customer asked the question, “How does all this rain affect my HVAC system?”

Bruner Engineer John Mrofchak has the answer:

An air cooled condensing unit could operate more efficiently with a lower discharge pressure when it is raining outside or when cooled with moisture. However, air cooled condensing units are typically not designed to be continually sprayed with moisture. Continual moisture could create several issues, including electrical, compressor, and condenser coil damage.
Compressor damage could result by water spray overcooling the condenser, and liquid refrigerant returning to the compressor. Compressors are designed to compress gas, not liquid. The refrigerant in an air conditioning system changes state from liquid to gas as part of the air conditioning process.
The condenser coil could be damaged by poor spray water quality. Another type of outdoor condensing unit is an evaporative condenser. If you have an evaporative condenser, you’re in the clear; they are designed to be continually sprayed with moisture.

For a more detailed explanation or assistance preparing your systems for the influx of moisture, contact Bruner Corporation at (614) 334-9000.

 

Spring has Sprung: Schedule Your Seasonal Inspection

Depending on the contents of your service maintenance agreement, you may be due for a spring inspection. Spring inspections are vital to your system to prepare it for the cooling season. There’s nothing worse than system malfunctions with temperatures topping out in the 90s or 100s!

What should your service technician be inspecting?

The inspection of your outdoor condenser unit is most important and has the greatest significance of your cooling system. The technician should check for proper refrigerant levels; a system that is low on refrigerant will run for longer periods of time, consuming more energy. They should also inspect the system base pan for restricted drain openings, coil and cabinet, fan motor and fan blades for wear and damage, control box, associated controls and accessories, wiring, and connections.

Additional tasks your service technician may perform:

  • Installing gauges and checking operating pressures
  • Checking voltage and amperage to all motors
  • Checking air temperature drop across evaporator
  • Checking for adequate refrigerant charge
  • Looking for any visible signs of leaks
  • Oiling motors if needed
  • Checking belts and adjust tension (if needed)
  • Checking pressure switch cutout settings
  • Checking reversing valves
  • Adding 1lb. of R-22 or 410-A refrigerant (if applicable)
  • Checking all wiring and connections
  • Changing air filters
  • Checking electrical lockout circuits
  • Checking starting contractors
  • Cleaning condenser coil (if needed)
  • Checking and adjust thermostat
  • Checking air temperature across condenser
  • Checking that condensate drain is open
  • Checking and cleaning disconnect

During the spring isn’t the only time you should be worried about your HVAC system. Check out our e-book for 9 Tips to Keeping Your Mechanical Systems in Tip-Top Shape all year round!

If you’re in need of a preventative maintenance agreement, please contact us to ensure your systems are all set for the coming months!

Bad Omens for Your HVAC System

It’s Friday the 13th. Superstition may get the best of us today, but remember that there are numerous tell-tale signs that indicate it may be time to replace your HVAC system – it’s not just bad luck!

  • The heat exchanger develops cracks or holes
  • The heat exchanger rusts
  • Moisture is in the furnace
  • Water on the floor below the boiler
  • Rust is on the boiler
  • A compressor has burned out
  • Excessive noises are coming from the HVAC system
  • Your utility bills start to rise
  • Frequent repairs are required to keep the system running
  • Increased humidity
  • More dust in the air
  • The air conditioning unit is 12-15 years old
  • The furnace is 15-20 years old
  • The boiler is 15-20 years
  • The HVAC system is no longer able to keep up with heating and cooling needs

If it is, in fact, time to replace your HVAC system, give us a call. We’ll be happy to walk you through the steps necessary to get your system up and running most efficiently and effectively.

LED is H-O-T!

These days, not attempting to save energy or “go green” is quite the faux-pas. So you request that your employees recycle their paper waste and you purchase ceramic coffee mugs instead of Styrofoam cups. But how else can your company cut down on energy? Evaluate your lighting situation.

LED lighting fixtures can save up to 85 percent of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs. Most of the energy emitted from incandescent bulbs is converted to heat instead of light; that’s why if you touch an incandescent bulb after it’s been turned on you will burn yourself. LED lighting also lasts up to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting.

LED lighting can save up to 50 percent of the energy used by CFLs and between 20 to 30 percent of the energy used by fluorescent tube lighting because LEDs don’t contain hazardous materials, such as mercury, like fluorescent tubes and CFLs do. LED lighting also uses solid-state technology, which allows effective dimming and eliminates flickering, unlike most fluorescent lights that cannot be dimmed and often flicker.

Where can you implement LED lighting? Practically everywhere! Options include: post-top lights, area lights, roadway lights, flood lights, and garage lights among others.

To top it all off, LED lighting can be part of your Energy Conservation Program with Bruner, and supply only a small portion of your every savings. Contact us today to see how LED lighting and other conservation measures can cut down your utility bills.