Total System Services Inc. (TSYS, Columbus, GA) is one of the world's leading information technology processors of commercial transaction data. Its services track transactions and payments for issuers of credit and debit cards for both North American and international markets. TSYS offers a range of online accounting services to banks, retailers, and online merchants. Through its family of companies, TSYS processes more than 194.6 million accounts, and it was named 'The Best Company To Work For In America' by Fortune magazine.

Riverfront Campus Consolidates Operations

In September 1999, TSYS officially opened the first phase of its Riverfront Campus in Columbus, after 24 months of development and construction. The campus - located along the Chattahoochee River in downtown Columbus - consolidates three-fourths of the TSYS team from multiple locations in Columbus. The goal of the project was to concentrate operations for improved efficiency, productivity, and communications. TSYS also operates offices in Atlanta and Jacksonville as well as Toluca, Mexico; and Welland, ON, Canada.

"These facilities represent a major milestone in the history and growth of our company," said TSYS chairman and ceo Richard W. Ussery. "Every decision was made with the highest commitment to good stewardship. Every detail clearly reflects our values of putting people first and providing superior service for our clients."

The new facility consists of three separate buildings - designated "A," "B," and "C" - with a broad, connecting underground passageway. The three buildings, each three stories, are arranged above the banks of the river and total 540,000 sq ft. The principal business use of the facilities is office and conference space and data processing support areas. The newly developed office and conference space currently accommodates more than 2,500 employees. On the campus, there is room for additional facilities as required by business conditions.

The mechanical engineer involved in the design of the hvac system for the project was Barrett, Woodyard & Associates. Early in the project planning process, the decision was made to use a variable-air volume (vav) air distribution system with water-cooled, self-contained air conditioning units throughout the complex.

Self-Contained A/C Units A Logical Choice

The self-contained units are Trane Model SCWD. The condensing water supplied to the units is provided by a pair of cooling towers on the rooftop of one of the buildings. A total of 23 self-contained units were specified for the installation. Typically, two units were installed per floor in each building. The units range in size from 32 to 80 tons, depending on the calculated cooling load for the area served.

The project engineer understood that a major challenge with the project was the wide variability of the cooling load, depending on seasonal changes and daily changes in facility use levels. The business of TSYS is computer intensive, with attendant heat gains from individual PCs and peripherals as well as various dispersed processing centers. Thus, responsiveness of the system and ample cooling capacity is essential.

Another factor was the owner's appreciation that comfort levels at their workstations closely influenced employees' productivity and job satisfaction. The air distribution throughout the buildings is accomplished with Trane VariTrane® fan-powered vav boxes. The vav boxes at the building perimeters are equipped with a resistance electric heat option for the four months of the year in this area where heat is required. In addition, vav boxes in the individual mechanical rooms allow for a metered flow of outside ventilation air to be mixed into the distribution system.

The decision to use self-contained air conditioning units rather than a chiller plant was based on several considerations. TSYS had excellent experience with self-contained systems in other facilities and was comfortable staying with this type of system. They also were influenced by the flexibility given by a self-contained system in maintaining comfort in selected areas of the building around the clock, if needed.

Control With A Touch Of A Button

The owner chose to avoid the necessity of staffing to operate a chiller plant. The self-contained system, it was felt, can operate with minimum attention or maintenance.

According to TSYS representative Allen Ruff, “We just felt it was the best value for this application." In addition to the self-contained units, the installation also contains five 10-ton horizontal water-source heat pumps to meet the cooling needs of the several large, open stairwells. The main cooling towers also supply these heat pumps.

The entire cooling system is controlled through a Trane Tracer Summit building automation system (bas) housed in Building A. This control system allows the building maintenance staff to check the status and adjust comfort levels throughout the campus as needed. The automation system will easily accept additional control tasks as other systems are added or additional buildings are added to the campus.

Long-term plans of TSYS involve probable construction of additional building units on the Columbus campus. The expansion capability of the bas, along with the continuing need for zone comfort control, make it likely that self-contained air conditioning units with vav distribution will continue to be the choice of system. TSYS expects that its successful experience with this type of system will continue. ES