The Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) is a private social, business, athletic, and dining club with locations in Downtown St. Louis and Town and Country in West St. Louis County. The MAC’s Downtown Clubhouse was dedicated in a ceremony in 1915.
The downtown MAC facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many believe it was the first air-conditioned building west of the Mississippi River. That air conditioning system was installed at the MAC between 1934 and 1941, for a total cost of $244,000. The original, custom-built air handlers were still in place prior to this new project.
Visitors can appreciate the MAC’s stately architecture, and the maintenance that has kept its woodwork, furnishings and fabric adornments in fine condition. All the more reason for a facility like this to have premium dehumidification and comfort systems operating in top condition.
“The cost of the project was about $2.3 million, but the savings generated from this new, efficient system are sufficient to pay for the project, plus create positive cash flow moving forward,” said Wally Smith, MAC general manager.
The MAC project was part of St. Louis City’s “Set the PACE St. Louis” clean energy financing program. It was the largest project to be financed by PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) in the country in 2015.
“The City’s stock of old buildings cannot keep up with demands for energy efficiency without some major retrofits, which can be expensive,” said Mayor Francis Slay. “We created ‘Set the PACE St. Louis’ to ease the burden and encourage savings — both financially and environmentally — for business owners to use.”
One of the chief characteristics of PACE financing is the ability to finance for longer terms — up to 20 years — so that annual loan payments are offset by real dollar energy savings. Trane St. Louis negotiated, planned and assisted the MAC with the PACE Financing, and managed this “Performance Agreement for Comfort from Trane” (PACT™) project. Trane provided the system design and components for the 220,000 sq. ft. building’s mechanical restoration project.
Integrated Facility Services, Inc., St. Louis, Mo., served as a subcontractor to Trane St. Louis for phase two of the HVAC retrofit. Since 1966, IFS has provided a full range of facility solutions to keep building systems operating efficiently, reliably and safely – HVAC, plumbing, building automation controls, fire protection, 24-hour service and more.
Most of the MAC’s HVAC units were so antiquated that they had to be replaced with entirely new units with variable speed motors. All of the new controls are now tied to a central system, which allows the system to be operated remotely.
Fresh air from outside now gets pulled through the new clean units and heated or cooled depending on the time of year, and is economically distributed where and only when needed.
One of the biggest aspects of the project was bringing the giant Maxon boiler back online, at a cost of approximately $700,000. However, it drove approximately 75-80% of the ongoing cost savings for the project.
According to Gary Tidwell, IFS project manager/estimator/manager, the boiler was installed in 1982, but the MAC discontinued using it less than two years later because it made more sense to exclusively purchase steam from the city.
When the cost of steam went up a few years ago, the MAC saw a more than $100,000 increase in utility costs, according to Smith. In addition to utility costs, the cost of running the existing boiler with high-pressure steam required stationary engineers onsite 24/7 and cost roughly $250,000 annually in payroll. The new HVAC system also takes up less space that the old one and saves $10-$15,000 per month in energy costs, Smith said.
“This originally was a 100-psi high-pressure boiler. IFS and other contractors converted it to a 10 psi boiler,” Tidwell from IFS explained. “To do that we had to change the nozzles coming off the boiler; redo the safety controls, pressure relief valves, and header piping; and reconfigure the entire discharge manifold so that it could still produce enough BTUs per hour in a low-pressure operation,” Tidwell said. “We brought the boiler down to a low-pressure system for the majority of the building while continuing to use city steam in just the laundry department, which requires high pressure.”
“This solution created a beneficial redundancy. If the HVAC system or the steam provider, Trigen, ever fails, the MAC now has a back-up system in place,” Tidwell said.
IFS installed two new Khem Aqua water softeners as part of the boiler upgrade, to improve the life and quality of laundered items, such as linens, and uniforms, and to remove residue, such as the water spots seen on glassware.
Due to the age of the equipment, existing materials and spaces were checked for hazardous materials prior to any work being done. During the course of construction, daily job hazardous analysis (JHA) was performed and documented before the workers started their daily work assignments. Everything was fully tested and commissioned before being turned over to the MAC staff.
Tidwell said the project was challenging due to the age of building and the equipment that was replaced, and the fact that the building remains open around-the-clock.
“We had to maintain comfort conditions throughout the building while we were working on it. We obtained the schedules for the facility, to see which areas would be least impacted at certain times.”
ABOUT INTEGRATED FACILITY SERVICES (IFS)
Integrated Facility Services (IFS) is a full-service HVAC, plumbing, piping, fire protection and building automation firm with more than 240 professional and trade employees. Established in 1966, IFS delivers integrated mechanical engineering and construction, installation, service and planned maintenance, and energy conservation solutions to ensure occupant comfort, improve efficiency and reduce operational costs. Named a 2015 Midwest Top 50 Specialty Contractor by Engineering News Record and ranked among the top five mechanical contractors in the St. Louis region, IFS serves clients in Missouri and Illinois, with offices in St. Louis and Columbia. For more information, call (636) 680-2100 or (573) 442-6100 and visit www.intfs.com.
**Integrated Facility Services, Inc., St. Louis, Mo., was a subcontractor to Trane St. Louis for phase two of this 220,000 sq. ft. mechanical restoration project, which was completed as a concept plan-and-spec project.