New Courthouse Chiller Handcuffs North Carolina's Humid Climate
For the past 20 years, the Wilkes County Courthouse in Wilkesboro, NC, has depended on its chiller system. The courthouse had been reliably cooled with a Daikin ALS170A screw compressor chiller, but the unit was beginning to show signs of aging.
At the customer’s request, Steve Heidorn, Daikin’s district service manager, and Brett Harrell, service sales representative, set out to develop a new service proposal for the county. In doing so, it quickly became apparent that the operational costs for the existing chiller would rise significantly in the coming years.
“The chiller was nearing the end of its useful life, which would drive service demand up, but we realized an opportunity to help the customer cut costs and increase efficiency by installing a new chiller versus continuing to service the existing one,” said Harrell.
For two decades, the existing chiller had maintained critical cooling functions to provide a comfortable setting inside the courthouse, despite North Carolina’s humid climate. As summer approached, it became clear that due to the age of the existing chiller, it was not able to meet the cooling load of the building in order to sufficiently maintain IAQ and temperature.
As the Daikin service team finalized a new seven-year service proposal, its analysis confirmed a rise in service requirements would be necessary to maintain the existing screw chiller due to the age of the chiller. To provide the customer with options on how to proceed, the service team completed a separate analysis related to cost savings for the courthouse, if it instead purchased a new, more efficient chiller.
“We calculated annual savings of about $6,800 in energy costs with the installation of a new chiller at the courthouse,” said Heidorn. “Over the seven years of the new service agreement, the courthouse could save almost $48,000 in energy costs alone.”
This cost savings potential was the determining factor in the courthouse facility team’s decision to purchase a new chiller.
A Daikin Trailblazer air-cooled scroll chiller was selected as an optimal replacement because the unit closely matched the older unit with respect to electrical, piping and dimensional characteristics, in addition to the cost and energy savings Daikin’s initial analysis showed.
Further, the new chiller would help the courthouse achieve the desired temperature settings inside the building more efficiently and reliably. The combination of high efficiency and low maintenance made the Trailblazer product the clear choice for replacement.
While attempting to configure the new Daikin chiller to operate with the existing BAS system, the service team hit a roadblock. Although a BACnet™ state-of-the-art integration card was provided with the new chiller, the existing BAS control system was unable to communicate via the standard BACnet chiller communication protocol. The BAS manufacturer then proposed a five-figure upgrade to the control system in order to fully integrate the new chiller information into their BAS system. The courthouse saw this as less than ideal and they asked Daikin Applied to find an alternative solution.
“We recommended our Intelligent Equipment control solution be added to the new chiller to provide the service team with an alternative way to remotely access, control, and manage the unit’s settings via a cloud-based connection. In addition, Intelligent Equipment eliminated the need to fully integrate the new chiller into the BAS control system,” said Harrell.
Daikin’s cloud-based Intelligent Equipment connects directly to an HVAC unit to monitor energy consumption. It gives owners direct access to over 240 data points on the Daikin Trailblazer chiller in real time. The installation of Intelligent Equipment saved the customer thousands of dollars and solved the compatibility issue.
“By adding Intelligent Equipment, we truly elevated how effectively the chiller can be managed and maintained,” said Heidorn. “The control solution gives the Daikin service team and the facilities managers at the courthouse a much deeper understanding of how this unit is performing. Adding Intelligent Equipment helped extend the efficiencies and cost savings of the chiller.”
The Intelligent Equipment-enabled Trailblazer will also help keep service costs down for Wilkes County Courthouse in the longer term because diagnostic checks and other functions can be remotely managed. If the chiller does experience a service issue, it can be diagnosed remotely and the cause determined, prior to sending a technician to the facility to fix the issue. This visibility into the unit’s operation reduces unnecessary truck rolls and optimizes service dispatch efficiency.
While the contract with Wilkes County is comprehensive and Daikin will continue to service the system, the on-site maintenance team also has instant and remote access to the Intelligent Equipment dashboard. From any device with internet access, the team is able to log-in with a unique username and password to check the system status.
The Daikin Applied team took a solutions-based approach, keeping the customer’s best interest in mind, and this ultimately helped the team extend its ongoing relationship with Wilkes County.