Retrofitting of Commercial Rooftop Units Results in Savings of $5.6 Million

April 21, 2017

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Image courtesy of Daikin.

Image courtesy of Daikin.

By Monica Kanojia

Earlier this week, the Energy Department’s Advanced Rooftop Unit Campaign recognized eight organizations for their exemplary efforts in replacing and upgrading rooftop units (RTUs), saving $5.6 million over a span of just one year. RTUs, used to regulate and circulate air as a part of HVAC systems, are an example of technology that can contribute to high energy and maintenance costs for commercial building owners if they become outdated. Considering that RTUs last for approximately 15-20 years, it is no surprise that many currently in place are approximately 10 years old, and thus present a large opportunity to decrease energy consumption.

RTUs are responsible for the heating and cooling of 60% of U.S. commercial building floor area and consume about 4.3 Quads of energy annually – about a fifth of total commercial building energy use. The replacement of older RTUs with high efficiency units and retrofitting eligible RTUs with advanced controls can result in a reduction of 20-50% in cooling and ventilating energy consumption per year. Through the Advanced Rooftop Unit Campaign, many organizations and corporations are learning the value of the untapped potential savings represented by RTUs, with some even adopting preemptive replacement recognizing that as the system ages, it progressively becomes more inefficient and costly.

Since the Advanced Rooftop Unit Campaign’s inception, it has seen 300 partners replace or upgrade a total of 77,000 units, realizing energy cost savings of over $166 million, with $66 million of that being achieved in 2016 alone. The following organizations are being recognized this year for achieving significant savings. Altogether these eight organizations replaced and retrofitted 8,552 units in a single year and realized a savings of $5.6 million.

  • CLEAResult’s Southern California HVAC Optimization Commercial Quality Maintenance program with 867 retrofits and saving approximately 6 million kWh, had the highest number of advanced RTU control retrofits through an efficiency program. The program enhances maintenance agreement and financial incentives, and is being recognized as the most innovative RTU efficiency program by a supporting partner.
  • Fontana Unified School District had the highest number of RTU installations that meet or exceed RTU challenge specifications with 200 RTUs worth $220,000 in energy savings annually.
  • Giant Tiger Stores Limited had the largest efficiency gain for a single building RTU replacement project. They reaped a 64% installed efficiency gain with 40% capacity reduction, saving approximately 30,800 kWh annually.
  • H&M had the highest number of advanced automated fault detection and diagnostic (AFDD) retrofit installations on their RTUs, with 131 installations.
  • Life Time Fitness had the highest percentage of their RTU portfolio with high-efficiency upgrades since 2013 and had the most innovative RTU management approach by a participating partner. Their program replaced 1,027 RTUs and retrofitted 1,800 RTUs with advanced controls, or 78% of their entire RTU inventory in four years resulting in an estimated savings of 21 million kWh, worth $2.1 million annually.
  • Target Corporation had the highest number of high-efficiency RTU installations, as well as the highest number of advanced RTU control retrofits. Target installed 372 high-efficiency RTUs and upgraded 360 of their existing RTUs with advanced control retrofits across 60 stores resulting in an estimated savings of 11 million kWh, worth $1.1 million annually.
  • Ulta Beauty has upgraded 1,310 RTUs with high-efficiency replacements since January 2013, or 31.4% of their RTU inventory - the highest percentage of portfolio upgraded with high-efficiency RTU installations in a four-year period providing an estimated savings of 13 million kWh and $1.3 million annually. Ulta is also being recognized for having the most successful landlord/ tenant arrangement for RTU efficiency in leased spaces.
  • Xcel Energy Colorado had the highest number of high-efficiency RTU installations through an efficiency program by a supporting partner. Xcel’s program installed 2,484 high-efficiency RTUs, resulting in an estimated savings of 2.3 million kWh, worth $230,000 annually.

As shown through the diversity of participants that received recognition, the Advanced Rooftop Unit Campaign continues to reach all segments of the market, spanning both the public and private sector. Further, the campaign serves as an invaluable resource toward improving efficiency through technology upgrades without impacting productivity. The campaign exemplifies the positive impact public-private partnerships can have on improving energy performance, while also decreasing the cost burden on the commercial sector.

Learn more about the Advanced Rooftop Unit Campaign and how to get involved here.