When you compete for premier office tenants in a high-rent market, like south Florida, your building better have the best finishes and systems to stand out from the competition. That’s an ongoing challenge that motivates Bunnie Willis in her role as vice president, senior property manager for the 12-story BayView Corporate Tower in Fort Lauderdale. Built in 1973, the 412,000-square-foot Class A building houses 13 corporate tenants, including AT&T, Whole Foods and Landmark Worldwide.Willis routinely looks for ways to enhance the value of BayView Corporate Tower and the other Florida commercial properties she manages on behalf of Delray Beach, Fla.-based New Boston Fund Inc., a multibillion-dollar private real-estate- investment management firm. In July 2011, during a routine evaluation of the BayView Corporate Tower’s mechanical systems, she learned that she could provide her tenants with cleaner, healthier air by making modest upgrades to the building’s HVAC systems. One such upgrade—ultraviolet-C lamps—also held the promise of saving energy, reducing maintenance costs and extending equipment life.
The Use of UV Lighting
Used extensively in HVAC equipment since the 1990s to improve indoor air quality and later to improve heat-exchange efficiency, boost airflow and reduce maintenance, the UV-C wavelength eliminates and further prevents microbial and organic materials buildup on cooling coils, air filters and duct surfaces, as well as in drain-pans.
However, it is the technology’s ability to potentially slash between 10 to 25 percent of HVAC energy use that drives nine of every 10 UV-C installations, says Bruce Fontaine, vice president of Business Development and Operations at Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Sustainable Management Solutions, a national energy-efficiency consultancy specializing in commercial HVAC, electrical and water-use reductions. Fontaine’s team recommended the sustainable UV-C solution, product selection and installation at BayView Corporate Tower.
Following the recommendation to add UV-C technology to the office building’s air handling units (AHUs), Willis, a registered Real Property Administrator and president of the Fort Lauderdale + Palm Beaches Chapter of the Building Owners & Managers Association, did her homework to learn more about the technology.
As BayView’s chief engineer, I met with Willis to discuss the many benefits of UV-C. Chief among these benefits is the improvement to indoor-air-quality levels, so tenants enjoy cleaner, healthier air. Absenteeism due to the spread of microbes and allergens via HVAC systems is almost eliminated. Moreover, the use of UV-C extends the equipment’s useful life and reduces downtime and preventive-maintenance expenses, like cleaning the coils and drain pans and purchasing coil-cleaners and drain treatments, etc. In addition, the afterhours labor costs and the use of harsh cleaning chemicals are eliminated with UV-C.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Department of Energy, Willis is not alone in targeting her HVAC equipment as a potential source of savings; HVAC equipment accounts for up to 50 percent of a building’s total energy use–a figure that may be even more pronounced in southern climates, such as Florida.
PHOTOS: Mitchell Zachs, magicalphotos.com