Roof top units play a vital role in the success of commercial enterprises, ranging from small to large-sized businesses. Roof top units condition more than 50% of the commercial floor space in the U.S., but traditional units and approaches to maintenance open the door to risk. To mitigate this risk and understand the importance of commercial building roof top efficiency.
In light of these facts, Facilities Managers need to know when a roof top unit (RTU) has reached its life expectancy, the common practices applied in making repair versus replacement decisions and key considerations in moving to a newer, energy-efficient system.
Commercial Building Roof Top Efficiency Is a Cost-Center
In a recent webinar, sponsored by the Advanced RTU Campaign (ARC), Sormeh Konijkav of Waypoint Energy went in-depth into the problems with traditional roof top inefficiencies. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) created the ARC to help transition more roof top units away from the limitations of existing systems. Existing units may be approaching their end-of-life period, function on R22 refrigerants, increasing environmental risk, and waste energy. Units may not be the right size for a facility, and constant fans lead to excess energy costs. Paired with vacancy runtime, the units’ overall cost soars.
Another problem with existing units was explored by Tom Mills of Pace Controls. According to Mills, Facilities Managers are looking for the “green Swiss Army Knife of facilities management.” The metaphor implies a need for a facilities management system that can intuitively predict changes in settings, the indoor environment, and optimize such settings. Unfortunately, today’s commercial building roof top efficiency suffers from a lack of visibility due to this problem. While units can be retrofitted with new technology, the issue moves to considerations for early retirement or repairing units.
How Early Retirement of RTUs Can Become a Profit-Center
Early retirement of RTUs can actually lead to a net present value (NPV) of $5,030 following installation of new units after five years. The initial investment for early retirement and replacement reaches payback at 3.3 years. This is achieved through the significant reductions in energy costs and consumption after installation.
For instance, the benefits of installation include $38,439 in energy savings, $26,000 in avoided emergency replacement, and a $2,000 value on improved air quality and comfort.
So, when is the right time to consider early retirement. The ARC has created the following decision tree to help.
Key Considerations Before Jumping Into Early Retirement or Repairs
Improving commercial building roof top efficiency can seem like a no-brainer, especially given the NPV. However, poor planning and a lack of consideration will lead to added costs and extend the time to payback. Facilities Managers need to take the following considerations into account before making a decision, as explained by Konijkav:
- What is the exact purchase cost for each unit, and what is the installation cost?
- Will the roof require shoring up or additional construction to support removal and installation of new units?
- How much downtime will be associated with replacement?
- Will the facility need to close during replacement?
- Using the formulas below, also listed on Page 11 of the ARC Business Case instructional guide, what is the payback period, ROI, NPV, and IRR for your facility?
- Will your facilities management team be able to handle removal and installation?
- Will you outsource or let internal teams handle other activities, like setup?
- Will you outsource or let internal teams handle equipment maintenance?
- Will you outsource or let internal teams handle equipment monitoring?
- Will you use the Internet of Things to make self-optimization and “remote control and management” possible?
The final four considerations focus on maintaining and optimizing the system after installation. With today’s technology, new RTUs can be controlled from mobile devices and connected to various platforms to increase energy efficiency and drive savings. Even skilled team members may not have the experience necessary to handle such upgrades. As a result, partnering with a field service technician network, such as that offered by QSI Facilities, may be the best solution.
Infographic: Results from the DOE's High-Performance RTU Challenge
Choose QSI Facilities to Help With RTU Upgrades and More as Part of Your Commitment to the ARC
Choosing to become a participant in the ARC, meaning your facility will actively work to upgrade RTU efficiency and quality, demonstrates your willingness to implement sustainable practices and give customers what they want—a quality experience, better service, affordable products and more. Your RTUs are out of sight and often out of mind, but bringing first and foremost can help your organization reap the benefits of new technology and even increase your eligibility for incentive programs, offered by both governments and utility providers. To get started with your RTU upgrade, visit QSI Facilities online or by calling 1-888-328-2454 today.