Enhancing occupant comfort and improving equipment reliability at a premier office building through a modernization of mechanical systems

For over 35 years, Austeville Properties has demonstrated its commitment to providing the very best in office and rental accommodations. Offering exceptional properties throughout Greater Vancouver, Austeville's high standards for quality, care and maintenance are reflected in their professionalism and commitment to providing superior rental properties and tenant services.

 

"When we installed the new domestic water piping system, we put it in strategically. All final connections to the existing system and fixtures were done as late as possible in the process, which resulted in only a few scheduled shutdowns and no complaints during construction."

--Percy Gamboa, Prism Engineering

Challenge

Built in 1976, Austeville's property at 475 West Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver is an 11-storey, 10,500-square-metre (113,000-square-foot) office building with three levels of underground parking. By the late 1990s, the building's mechanical systems--including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and plumbing--were all nearing the end of their lifespan. Additional maintenance costs, emergency repairs and unscheduled downtime were inevitable unless systems were upgraded in a timely manner. Austeville hired Prism as a lead consultant with whom they could develop a long-term relationship and work towards comprehensive solutions to improve occupant comfort and system reliability.

Solutions

Prism offered a "renewal" program for mechanical systems spanning more than 15 years. The program saw the total replacement of most of the building's mechanical equipment with minimal disruption to tenants. The modernization included the following work:

1994     Prism designed automated building controls for all HVAC equipment, featuring a graphical user interface.
1997     Air quality was upgraded by extending outside air ducting to perimeter offices to provide adequate ventilation in all areas of the building
2000     Aging micro-fibre ducts throughout the building were replaced to further improve air quality and reduce the risk of bacterial growth inside the ventilation system.
2001     With Prism overseeing implementation, 90 heat pumps were replaced. Those in relatively good condition were refurbished and reinstalled.
2006     The technical requirements for a fluid cooler replacement were prepared based on a design-build concept. The documents included procedures to minimize disruption to the tenants during construction.
2007     A new domestic water piping installation was designed by Prism to replace the existing copper piping, which was beginning to corrode and risked leaking. The new system was installed parallel to the existing piping, so that occupancy could continue uninterrupted.
2008     The existing domestic hot water system, which employed a relatively costly and complex steam heating process, was reviewed. To reduce heating costs, the steam heat exchanger was replaced with two 120-gallon tanks equipped with 10-kilowatt electric heaters. Prism also recommended and helped implement the installation of a new booster pump/controls package for the domestic cold water system.

Results

As a result of the building renewal process undertaken at 475 West Georgia, Austeville Properties has more reliable mechanical systems and their tenants are enjoying improved building comfort. In addition to achieving impressive energy cost savings (estimated at over $750,000 to December 2009), by carefully planning the modernization of mechanical equipment, Prism has helped avoid costly and disruptive emergency repairs.