This Aventine office building is benefiting from energy upgrades. The Aventine complex in La Jolla, Calif., installed OptimumHVAC software to reduce energy costs and environmental impact. Images supplied by OptimumHVAC.

The Aventine in La Jolla, Calif., was designed to offer everything for work and play. The 11-acre complex contains office space, restaurants, a 33,000-square-foot athletic facility and a 400-room Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The space was built to be perfect for tourists visiting the San Diego area or for La Jolla residents looking to get away for a night of dining. Visitors to the Aventine probably aren’t thinking about energy use, but owners of the 250,000-square-foot complex are watching it closely. For the owners of the Aventine, the goal is not just to show visitors a good time, but to do it while reducing operating costs and lowering the structure’s carbon footprint.

Owners of the Aventine are able to remotely monitor chiller activity at its chiller plant with OptimumHVAC software.

Software to the rescue

In late 2007, Glenborough LLC, owner of the Aventine complex, set a goal to lower operating costs and lessen its projects’ impact on the environment. In fact, owners were eager for the Aventine to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

While the Aventine offers a great location for potential business owners, officials said, it was important for Glenborough to offer more than that

“Tenants are becoming more attracted to our buildings,” said Carlos Santamaria, director of engineering for Glenborough. “Usually in this business, it’s location, location, location, but our tenants are also pleasantly surprised and proud to be in buildings that are leaders in energy efficiency.”

Glenborough conducted a study to find where energy improvements could be made. The study revealed that the complex would save the most money with the least amount of capital investment by upgrading to an all-variable-speed chiller plant with OptimumHVAC optimization software. The study also found that the facility could keep its two existing McQuay centrifugal chillers.

Optimum Energy’s Ultra High Performance HVAC optimization software aims to reduce energy use and operating costs without impacting occupant comfort. According to the manufacturer, the software is compatible with all building automation systems. It was also developed with the goal of improving the efficiency of centrifugal chilled water plants and variable-air-volume air-handler systems.

With OptimumHVAC's OptimumMVM service, building owners track building performance remotely. This helps to verify energy savings while the equipment is running.

The Aventine projected a return on investment in less than three years. With this in mind, engineers decided to convert the facility’s centrifugal chiller plant to a primary-only, all-variable-speed system. The complex also retrofitted the two 300-ton chillers with oil-less variable frequency drive centrifugal compressors. The chiller plant retrofit was completed in a just a few months. By early 2008, the energy performance in the chiller plant started to improve and energy savings were realized. 

With the OptimumHVAC software, owners of the Aventine are able to monitor energy use. This screen shows relevant building information, energy use and savings.

Going for platinum

In its quest for LEED platinum certification, the Aventine was also focused on increasing its Energy Star rating to earn the maximum number of points under the LEED-existing buildings program. As a result of the HVAC plant retrofit and use of the OptimumHVAC software, the Aventine earned an Energy Star rating of 100 in 2008, a 15-point increase from its rating in 2007. That qualified the Aventine to receive all the available points for LEED’s energy and atmosphere credit.

“Achieving an Energy Star rating of 100 is unprecedented for a 20-plus-year-old building,” Santamaria said. “Installation of OptimumHVAC is saving us money and better positioning the Aventine in its pursuit of LEED-platinum certification. This next-generation technology is unlike any control strategy in the market today, and its proven energy-efficiency benefits can significantly change the way buildings operate.”

The OptimumHVAC software also made it possible for the Aventine to garner more LEED points. Because of the software’s tracking capabilities, LEED points were available in the areas of investigation and analysis, implementation and ongoing commissioning, and emissions reduction reporting.

“Improvements in HVAC energy efficiency play a vital role in helping commercial facilities reduce their environmental footprint and operating costs, and I’m proud that our products contribute to more than 25 percent of the points needed to achieve LEED certification,” said Nathan Rothman, founder and CEO of Optimum Energy. “Not only can we improve HVAC energy efficiency up to 60 percent, but continuous optimization and measurement of HVAC plant performance helps ensure energy savings persist.”

In the first year with OptimumHVAC, the Aventine was able to save 500,000 kilowatts per hour of electricity and cut operating expenses by more than $80,000. Also, the Aventine decreased its carbon emissions by 600,000 pounds.

Owners also said that they received a utility rebate of $105,000 due to the energy efficiency measures. Glenborough officials are pleased with the results and said that they have separated themselves from other mixed-use facilities.

“A lot of firms market well about what green initiatives they’d like to do,” said Santamaria. “We’ve done it already and gone way beyond.”

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail