Energy efficiency

Energy Efficient Programs for Commercial Buildings

If you’ve been considering taking steps toward making your commercial building more energy efficient but are still Depositphotos_29604955_m-2015-2on the fence, maybe it’s time to consider some of the financing programs that can be a big benefit to your goals.

Take a look at some of the benefits and financial programs available:

– State and local governments can issue debt in the form of public bonds, which fall into two categories: tax liability and security bonds. Tax liability bonds include tax-exempt bonds, private activity bonds, and taxable bonds and security bonds include general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, and asset-backed bonds. There is also a bond available known as the Qualified Energy Conservation Bond, or the QECB. The QECB is a bond that allows qualified state, tribal, and local government issuers to borrow money at great rates to fund energy conservation projects. This is one of the lowest-cost public financing tools because the U.S. Department of the Treasury subsidizes the issuer’s borrowing cost.

– Loan Loss Reserves is a type of credit enhancement that can support clean energy finance mechanisms. A credit enhancement is anything that can improve the chances of repaid financing. Loan Loss Reserves are used by state and local governments to provide partial risk coverage to lenders. This means the reserve will cover a pre-specified amount of loan losses. These can be used in any market, from the residential market to the commercial market to nonprofit lending.

– Leases are contracts allowing an entity to obtain the use or purchase of equipment or real estate. Leasing improvements that are energy-related is very common and cost-effective for local governments to finance upgrades and use the savings to pay for the cost of financing. While leases typically have higher rates than bond financing, they are faster and a more flexible tool than bond financing.

There are several types of tax-exempt lease arrangements available including the tax-exempt lease-purchase agreement, private-placement agreements and certificates of participation. The tax-exempt lease-purchase arrangement is the most commonly used lease arrangements by local and state governments. Advantages of taking the lease arrangement route to financing a commercial building include voter approvals typically not required, flexible terms, short development time, and lowers costs. Some disadvantages of this finance option are higher interest rates than bonds and reserve fund and capitalized interest are typically required.

– The last financing option available is a loan. There are financial institution loans used for clean energy projects that are service through an entity other than the government, usually a bank. The state or local government is not the administrator, but can still play a role through credit enhancement discussed earlier or providing capital for the loan, sometimes both. There are also Revolving Loan Funds, which are pools of capital from which loans are made for clean energy projects. When the loans are repaid, the capital is re-loaned for another project. These are great because they are sources of capital that are recycled over and over for new future projects, given that the defaults are low.

There are two types of Revolving Loan Funds: internal and external. Internal revolving loan funds start with a fixed pool of internal funds to pay for the desired projects and money is lent to specific projects internally, then some or all of the savings are repaid. External revolving loan funds are government-sponsored. These revolving loan funds usually offer lower interest rates and more flexible terms than commercial capital markets offer.

As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Some advantages of a revolving loan fund are that they are simple to set up compared to other options, expertise may exist in-house because many cities and states already have them available, cheap, available long-term, and can have no interest. Disadvantages include that the government acts as an administrator, capital needed to start a fund, the time it takes to revolved is slower with longer loan terms, and a credit analysis on the borrower’s ability to pay must be conducted before approved.

For more information on these programs, visit Energy Star’s website here.

While these are several of the financing options available for commercial building energy efficiency projects, there are numerous other financing options that we help our clients secure. While considering an energy efficiency upgrade for your facility you can count on Smith-Boughan Mechanical Services to help you every step of the way. Download our guide today for great information on how to get your building ENERGY STAR certified.

Energy efficiency

Cut energy costs in your building with these simple tips

Here’s a pretty startling statistic: Energy costs represent about 20 percent of total expenditures for the typical office buildings. That’s a fairly significant operational cost.

Statistically speaking, most office buildings’ lighting, heating and cooling represent 54 to 71 percent of total energy use, making them the best places to cut energy consumption.

That’s not bad news if you use it to your advantage.

It may surprise you, but many commercial office buildings can get big benefits from simple practices. Making sure things are turned off and turned down is a low-cost way to help save energy. Also, putting in the time and effort to make sure your HVAC system is cleaned and maintained on a regular basis will help your bottom line along with sustaining it for years to come.

1) Cleaning and Maintenance

An HVAC system that receives regular cleaning and maintenance helps prevent higher heating and cooling bills. For instance, trained technicians can clean, performance test and make repairs to the inner-workings of your air-conditioning system, this can save more than 50 percent on your annual energy bill while making sure it’s running efficiently.

Along with having a trained technician regularly check your system:

— Make sure air-conditioning damper vents are working correctly.

— Filters should be replaced on a quarterly basis.

— Every quarter, check the panels on your air-conditioning unit. Make sure they’re secure and check for leaks. Leaks can cost up to $100 per year per unit.

— Condenser coils should be cleaned before each season.

— Check airflow in your registers to make sure it’s adequate. If it’s not, have a technician inspect the ductwork and the unit itself.

2) Turn off, Turn down

Did you know that for every 1,000 kilwatt-hours you have something turned off you save up to $100 on your utility bill?

— Have your employees make it a habit to turn lights off when not in use.

— Occupancy sensors and timers also are a good idea to keep lights off when they aren’t needed.

— Computers and office equipment can really be costly to keep on. Computers and printers burn about 200 watts per day and a single monitor can draw 100 watts per day. Make sure your employees are using their low-power sleep modes when not in use because when they are left on it can result in $30 more on your annual bill.

— Space heaters suck up energy like crazy. The average space heater can be costing you $8 to $10 a month to operate. Have a certified technician determine what adjustments are needed to your existing HVAC system to make the space more comfortable and stop wasting energy with the space heaters.

— Turn down HVAC temperatures during closed hours in the warm seasons and turn them up in colder seasons.

— Dim hallway lighting by 30 percent during the daytime.

These are some of the ways you can immediately help the energy consumption in your commercial office building. Adhering to these daily practices will help you save money while assuring you that your system and your building is running as efficiently as possible.

The best way to make sure your HVAC and building systems are clean and running smoothly is to get the best certified, highest trained technicians. At Smith-Boughan Mechanical Services, our technicians have the experience and certifications to keep your building working at top efficiency. Call us today at 419-991-8040 or fill out our form for a free consulation and let us help you save money and save energy.

Energy efficiency

Finding solutions for Northview Laundry


Recently, we helped Northview Express Laundry address and solve a host of problems: Laundry1

  1. Northview Laundry was having problems with hot water heating equipment that was 20-plus years old.
  2. The natural gas atmospheric burner was inefficient.
  3. With high lint/dust concentration in the ambient air, the burner was prone to delayed ignition and flame roll out. Both are serious problems that could lead to fire or explosion.
  4.  A replacement utilizing sealed combustion  was desired, thus eliminating those concerns.


The circulating pump operates with high amps due to higher than normal pressure drop through the old boiler, causing wasted energy any time the system is operating.





Piping was not insulated, allowing for constant heat losses.











Armor Laundry4
Smith-Boughan recommends installing a Lochinvar ARMOR ultra-efficient condensing replacement system which includes:
• A stainless steel heat exchanger;

• A sophisticated electronic controller;

• A variable firing rate for optimal load matching efficiency;

• A sealed combustion chamber for added safety;

• A high-efficiency boiler mounted pump.


All exposed piping insulated for increased overall system efficiency.


Clean unobtrusive inlet and outlet flue piping. Looks good on exterior of any building/structure.


This project was performed with minimal downtime for the facility. Pre-planning and pre-fabrication allowed Smith-Boughan to shut the water off to the facility around 5 p.m. and water service was restored around 2 a.m. the next morning.

For more great projects Smith-Boughan has worked on to help businesses overcome challenges, check out our projects summaries page.

Energy efficiency

Chillin’ with Chilled Beam Systems


What is a chilled beam?

Chilled beam just sounds interesting, rolls off the tongue with much more panache than VAV system. VAV or “Variable Air Volume” just sounds confusing. But chilled beam, that is fun to say, kind of reminds you of a Coke commercial with the polar bear or a good Dairy Queen ad: Chilled beam, ahh, it must be a system that can really make you chill.

Or will it?When working properly it will. But, if the system isn’t controlled correctly, sensors

aren’t calibrated accurately or, worse yet, a proper sequence of operation isn’t programmed; then the glamorous sounding chilled beam system becomes a building owner or building engineers’ worst nightmare.

Recently designers have shifted away from VAV, with some calling them antiquated and inefficient. Chilled Beam, VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow – Think Mitsubishi), or Geothermal have received the attention of most building designers.

Think of a VAV system as a Chevrolet, think of a chilled beam system as a European sports car. Most HVAC service providers handle VAV well. If a problem develops it’s investigated, the problem

Chilled1 is identified, parts are ordered, and the problem is resolved.

The scenario plays out much like taking your Chevy to a local auto mechanic when it needs serviced. Chilled beam systems are more sophisticated like the European sports car, each requiring specialized qualifications and skills to properly troubleshoot and diagnose. Chilled beam systems must operate within razor thin parameters to achieve both comfort and efficiency.

Is your chilled beam system chillin’? Or do you find it constantly operating with condensation alarms? Or worse yet — is it raining inside the space? Is the system sending DRY cool air to the conditioned zones or is your contractor just lowering the discharge temp in the hopes the problem will magically go away?

The service department at Smith-Boughan has spent the past several years working with “troubled” chilled beam systems.

We have field technicians who understand the complexity of how a chilled beam system is supposed to operate along with engineers who are experienced in the actual design.

If your chilled beam system isn’t “chillin” we can help. Contact us today at 419-991-8040 or email to



Energy efficiency

Is your heating system ready for another polar vortex?


Is your heating system ready for another polar vortex? Before winter begins blasting us with cold nights and deep breezes, make sure your heating system is ready for the long days ahead. Take a look at our five maintenance tips to help you get your system running smoothly today.

1. Stick to Preventive Maintenance Schedules

Routine cleaning, a frequently deferred maintenance task, can have a significant impact on energy efficiency, according to the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP)’s O&M Center of Excellence. Dirty coils can reduce efficiency by as much as 30%.  Specialized skills and equipment are often required to properly clean most HVAC systems.

2. Air filters

Dirty air filters reduce system efficiencies by restricting air flow and causing fan motors to work harder than necessary.  This increases energy costs and negatively impacts equipment lifespan.  Utilizing the correct filter is also important and can save money in the long run as well.

3. Temperature setpoints and Setback Scheduling

Ensuring your facilities temperature setpoints are within acceptable range will result in energy savings and better occupant comfort.  Optimizing setback schedules ensures maximum savings are realized without negatively impacting occupant comfort.  It is recommended to have your facilities HVAC operating schedule checked by a skilled BAS technician on an annual basis.

4. Boiler Systems

Testing for proper combustion is a critical step in achieving both maximum efficiency and safe burner operation. A combustion analysis, performed by a trained technician, will ensure your boiler is operating within safe and efficient parameters.  Improper combustion can result in high levels of carbon monoxide, a risk for any facility, and can soot the inside of the unit, causing reduced efficiency by as much as 50%.

Water treatment needs to be tested annually to ensure proper levels of inhibitors are present to prevent corrosion within the heating system.  Inhibitors that protect against corrosion don’t last forever and need to be boosted to maintain protection. Testing should be performed prior to each heating season to ensure the system is protected from both corrosion and potential freezing, depending on the equipment design.

5. Safety Relief Valve

It can be argued that the relief valve, or safety relief valve, is one of the most important safety devices on the boiler, or perhaps even the most important safety device. It is intended to prevent catastrophic failure if there is a failure of any component in the control circuitry that regulates the firing of the boiler.

Each safety relief valve should be inspected and tested annually by a competent person.

(Bob__Lima_City_Schools)_017The last thing you want is your heating system breaking down in the middle of January. Follow these five HVAC Maintenance tips now to ensure your system is ready to hum along smoothly for the winter blast ahead.

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