Keith Sinclair had a problem. He owned an attractive and ideally located office building in the South Pasadena area of Los Angeles County. The five-story building had 28,000-sq-ft of rentable office space, and Sinclair's goal was to keep it rented. But in recent years, an aging comfort system was causing occasional building cooling failures, and the rising maintenance costs were cutting into the 30-year-old building's profitability.
The building's comfort system was a double-duct A/C system with DX cooling and two duct furnaces. The system was centralized in a penthouse equipment room that housed the DX cooling coils in an air handler, which in turn was served by two 40-ton reciprocating compressors. These were connected to a rooftop evaporative condenser. The compressors were at the heart of the problem. They had outlived their useful life, and were prone to frequent breakdown. Further, even when they were operating, the energy costs seemed to be out of line with those in other similar buildings.