Once the home of the biggest oilman’s club in
the world, the historic Petroleum Building in
Denver recently completed upgrades to replace
obsolete and inefficient systems.
Owners of the building sought to enhance
occupany rates and renew leases by creating a
healthy, comfortable, productive, safe and
environmentally considerate place to work. The
renovations restored the HVAC system to its
original intended design and added
computerized controls and tracking. Key
benefits of the improvements are reduced
energy use and more flexibility to address
tenant comfort issues. The upgrades are
expected to provide $117,000 in annual energy
and operating cost savings.
The Petroleum Building challenges were
twofold. The owners were 100 percent reliant
on their engineer to run the entirely manual
HVAC system, leaving the building vulnerable in
his absence -- nor was the system easily
adaptable to changing weather. The operator
could choose to heat or to cool the building, but
could not do both in different areas at the same
time. This created temperature issues,
particularly during seasonal transitions.
Building owner objectives were to increase
efficiency and reduce costs, allow more
flexibility to maximize tenant comfort, and
upgrade to an automated system with
computerized controls and tracking that could
be run by anyone.
A Trane Turnkey Contracting solution backed by
a Performance Guarantee allowed owners of the
Petroleum Building to leverage efficiencies to
finance the initial renovation investment. A
detailed site survey was completed, historical
energy billing data gathered, and the
information was benchmarked against other
relevant buildings to validate the savings
potential of energy conservation measures.
To reduce cost and increase efficiency, the
temperature controls were overhauled, valves
and pumps replaced, and variable frequency
drives and piping modifications completed. A
boiler plant was added to replace the expensive
city steam supply and the chiller was also
replaced. Lighting retrofits were installed to
improve quality and reduce electrical usage.
A building automation system (BAS) with direct
digital controls ensures consistent lighting and
effective temperature control thoughout the
building. With the BAS, the building engineer
has the ability to respond to alarms, view reports
and evaluate trends.
A Trane Scheduled Service Agreement prolongs
the useful life of the systems, reducing costly
repairs and improving performance. This assures
building owners that all required maintenance is
being performed as scheduled to protect their
Solid building improvements were performed to
overcome the challenges facing the Petroleum
Building. The up-front building improvements
were financed with energy and operating cost
reductions, expected to save $117,000
annually, with an eleven-year payback.
Additional operating and maintenance savings
provide significant value, while also retaining
and extending tenants.
"So far the results are good," said Tim Borst,
building co-owner. "Our system has been
restored to its original design. With the
computerized controls we have more heating
and cooling flexibility, and no longer need to
rely solely on our engineer to manually control
everything. We are continuing to monitor our
performance and adjusting as needed."
About the Petroleum Building
When it opened in 1957, the Petroleum Building was Denver’s tallest
building and housed the biggest oilman’s club in the world with 1,100
members. It was a mid-century modernist high-rise with austere lines
designed by Denver architect Charles Strong. The oil and gas industry
was booming in the Rocky Mountain region, and Denver was the
regional oil capital. At one time, thirty-three oil companies had offices
in the building. Built to last, the building boasts two bomb-resistant
stairways and a heavily reinforced basement.