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COUNTRY Financial Increases Energy and Operational Efficiency

October 21, 2013

Country Financial

Trane presented financial services firm with Energy Efficiency Leader award

Recent systems and services upgrades at the five-story, suburban St. Paul, Minn., office of COUNTRY Financial have reduced energy costs and increased energy and operational efficiency. COUNTRY provides financial products and services, serving about 1 million households and businesses throughout the United States.

The retrofits are part of an ongoing plan to reduce energy costs while improving facility operations. COUNTRY leaders expect the upgrades completed so far to save the company more than 8 percent in annual energy costs. Launched in September 2010, the improvements have also delivered expected operational efficiencies, reducing the number of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) service calls by 25 percent.

The phased-in approach undertaken by COUNTRY Financial leaders enabled them to optimize building performance, including functions at their critical 24/7 data center, even while reducing facilities staff. Improvements in earlier phases delivered some savings, while providing tools and data to drive later initiatives.

Initial improvements included a Trane Tracer™ building automation system (BAS), designed to capture key building operating parameters. The control system has become a communications hub used to implement intelligent building services that allow maintenance staff to optimize building performance by obtaining automated real-time reporting on systems performance. The Tracer BAS enables alarm monitoring for their 24/7 data center. Data generated enables staff to more easily maintain building performance and address any minor challenges before they become larger issues.

In recognition of COUNTRY’s commitment to energy and operational efficiency, Trane, a leading global provider of indoor comfort solutions and services and a brand of Ingersoll Rand, presented COUNTRY with the “Energy Efficiency Leader Award” in late April.

“We took a phased in, thoughtful approach to improvements that have enabled us to realize savings through each stage of building upgrades,” said Randy Hagerty, manager of property and facilities for COUNTRY. “We’re pleased that the reduction in service calls has already shown a significant return on investment, demonstrating improved building performance even during limited staff times.”

The improvements represent a major step in transforming the Arden Hills COUNTRY building into a high performance building that links to its business mission. High performance buildings take a whole building approach to performance while creating spaces that are reliable, safe, healthy, comfortable and efficient.

High performance buildings meet specific standards for energy and water consumption, system reliability and uptime, environmental compliance and occupant comfort. All standards are set to deliver established outcomes that help building owners and occupants achieve their business missions.

The multi-tenant building, which houses more than 500 occupants, includes office spaces, a cafeteria, an exercise room and the 24/7 data center. Specific improvements included:

  • Implementing Trane Intelligent Services (TIS) which combines technology, proprietary analytics and expertise to continuously collect, interpret and act on data from building equipment and controls to optimize the performance of the building. The services program includes alarm notification and active monitoring to optimize building performance.
  • Installing a new web-based Trane Tracer BAS building automation system (BAS) to replace an outdated BAS which allows the facility team to manage the facility, track energy use, and easily provide remote access and real-time reporting to a central location.
  • Installing an updated control solution on the chiller to more precisely monitor temperature control, increase operator productivity and chiller efficiency. The controller also provides quick and easy data access for faster issues analysis and resolution, and has extended the useful life of the existing system.
  • Adding variable speed drives on pump motors for optimized energy efficiency.
  • Implementing instrumentation in the data center to ensure constant uptime and computing availability.

About COUNTRY Financial

COUNTRY Financial serves about 1 million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a full range of financial products and services from auto, home and life insurance to retirement planning services, investment management and annuities.