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.
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:
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.
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.