The Alfred A. Arraj Courthouse is the newest addition to downtown Denver’s Federal District. Completed in 2002, the 320,000 sq. ft., 14-story building served as a model of sustainable and environmentally conscious design. It received numerous design awards and was certified as LEED O+M: Existing Buildings (v2.0) Silver in 2009. However, when the General Services Administration (GSA) staff recognized the building’s energy consumption was higher than expected, and occupant complaints increased, a change had to be made.
As one of the newest buildings, GSA staff expected the Arraj Courthouse to operate flawlessly. However, year after year the complaints increased and they wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. The building was designed to be best in class for energy use, but the GSA was not realizing the benefits, and as a result, it cost the agency additional staff time and money.
The GSA appointed SCS Engineers to perform a retro-commissioning (RCx) study and work with the facilities staff to re-set the building’s systems so they would operate at peak efficiency. SCS Engineers’ staff listened to the GSA’s concerns and helped identify the source of the courthouse’s problems. During the audit, SCS Engineers identified, prioritized, and resolved more than 300 issues to help the GSA reduce the courthouse’s energy consumption and, more importantly, occupant complaints.
Outcomes and Benefits
The building occupants have stopped complaining. GSA staff take those complaints very seriously and are relieved that they are nearly eliminated. On top of that, they reduced the building’s energy consumption by more than 30%. Now the building operates well below the original design goal of 75 kBtu/sq. ft., down to 69 kBtu/sq. ft. The building has surpassed all efficiency expectations, and the GSA and SCS Engineers achieved it all by applying the proper controls sequence to existing equipment.
Now the GSA saves $165,000 per year in energy costs – so much more than expected that the GSA engaged SCS Engineers to provide continuous commissioning (CCx) for another year. The courthouse project is paying for itself, and the GSA is investing those savings into additional RCx projects.
This unique project resetting a new building helped the GSA develop a repeatable process for how to handle future RCx and CCx projects. Having a documented process positions the GSA for future success and is a key piece of their staff’s ongoing energy use strategy. The process they went through gives the GSA a roadmap for future success.