Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Industry: Local Government
Products Used: Chillers, Energy Management & Controls, Wayform,
Services Used: Energy Analysis & Monitoring,
Climate: Humid & Hot
Topic: Efficiency, Cost-Saving, Decarbonization,
SCDOT Customer Story
SCDOT Headquarters Building Cuts Energy Use by 41 Percent with Trane Upgrades
It was time to drive change at the South Carolina Dept. of Transportation (SCDOT) headquarters building. While the approximately 900 employees in the six-floor building diligently focused on maintaining a safe and reliable state transportation network, their own building struggled to provide a comfortable place to work.
Constructed in 1977, the 222,000 square-foot building, which houses executive offices, a data center, emergency response employees and multiple administrative offices, had been “chopped up” to accommodate changing space needs over the years. Unfortunately, the infrastructure systems were not updated when the building’s space was reconfigured.
As a result, hot and cold spots plagued employees throughout the building. During summer months, for example, occupants faced chilly, sweater-clad mornings with the thermostat set to 65 degrees F. This low temperature was established in the morning to try to cap the building’s late-afternoon temperature at a sweat-inducing 80 degrees.
Beyond the temperature issues, humidity in some building areas skyrocketed to more than 60 percent on hot days. The lighting also had not been modified when building changes were made so controls didn’t match current office configurations. New staff shutting the lights off could suddenly find that their light switch managed multiple office locations.
Additionally, the building’s original heating and cooling systems, including outdated pneumatic controls, were proving to be increasingly unreliable and inefficient. Further complicating the scenario, the facility was purchasing steam and chilled water from a 42-year-old, remote, degrading central steam and chilled water system located nearly a half mile away through underground piping and under multiple lanes of traffic.
SCDOT also was financially responsible for repairing any leaks along the nearly five-block route to their facility. Staff could see evidence of steam leaks along the route to the building, an indication of the system's inefficiency and a literal view of agency costs vanishing into thin air.
Facilities management staff were spending an estimated 30 to 40 percent of their time “putting out fires.” Managing building challenges was significantly impacting their day-to-day productivity. Building infrastructure upgrades were badly needed, but the agency needed a way to fund them. “We wanted to come off the central plant, address issues on our own, and decrease our energy cost,” said Roger Sears, PE, SCDOT Headquarters.