This article was originally published in December 2016 and has been updated.
October 12, 2016 was not an average Wednesday at the Park La Brea (PLB) Apartments in Southern California. The USA’s largest multifamily development West of the Mississippi with 4,248 units had just completed one of the largest boiler and energy retrofit projects in the City’s history.
PLB's ownership, the Prime Group, in a celebration ceremony hosted by the Southern California Gas Company, was awarded one of the largest energy incentive rebate checks for its efforts to make energy upgrades.
Constructed during the 1940s, Park La Brea (PLB) is an extensive apartment complex with 4,248 units in (18) towers and (26) two-story garden style apartment building blocks. PLB is the largest housing development in the United States west of the Mississippi which sits on 160 Acres in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles.
PLB is a market-rate property but is also subject to rent control with many long-term residents. The property has a consistently high occupancy rate and low turnover which compounds the same challenges that most other older multifamily properties face.
The financial, logistical, and regulatory requirements are quite apparent as building codes and city policies have continued to expand while construction costs soar. Additionally, the financial return from conducting energy retrofits are only attractive when joint programs are available which combine the incentives and rebates of major utility companies.
Bruce Manning, Director of Maintenance for Able Services; with 35+ years of veteran Engineering experience, was brought on in July of 2013 to implement the full vision of Able Service’s offerings. Manning oversees a 105 employee crew managing all 24/7 Engineering and Janitorial services as well as all Landscaping, Fleet Management, Apartment Turns, Work Order Servicing, and Dispatching services.
Manning approached the (2)-local utility companies, SoCal Gas and LADWP, with the conceptual idea of a 'Multifamily Retrofit' for the facility. The vision required early buy-in and cooperation with an “out-of-the-box” joint utility initiative. The initiative resulted in an up-front investment-grade audit and project enrollment that became the underlying basis for all upgrades.
The utility companies had never before established a joint-utility working group on such a large multifamily project because nothing exists to the scale of Park La Brea. The property had to justify and meet its own project needs factoring in the physical requirements, regulatory requirements, and constructability logistics. Additionally, normal financial considerations combined with available utility funded project incentives were also considered. Working together, the Prime Group, Able Services, and the Joint utility team identified the programs that maximized the incentives that included:
- 2,789 Low Flow Toilets
- Over 10k Low Flow Fixtures
- Irrigation Controller Systems Optimized
- 26 Boiler (EDC) Controllers
- Approximately 400 Lighting Fixtures
- (18) 70-Year Old Kewanee Boilers Replaced with Burnham Boilers
- (18) Domestic Hot Water Recirculation Pump Control Systems
- Some 7,000+ feet of Boiler Room Pipe Insulation
- 504 Steam Traps Audited with 35 Faulty Traps Replaced
The results of the retrofit savings are projected to yield savings as follows:
Total Site Savings:
- 15% of Gas Load
- 10% of Water Usage
- Total Site Therm Savings: 275k (Annually)
- Projected Cost Savings: $250k (Annually)
- Total Electrical Side kWh Savings: Over 8.5k
- Greenhouse Gas Reductions of 17%
The collaboration with LADWP set a model of what is possible using a joint-utility approach on a deep retrofit project.
“The support and close collaboration between the multi-family owner at Park La Brea, including Able Services and the joint local utilities is the first of its kind and will be used as a model for other large-scale retrofit projects in the City in the future” said Mark Drake; SoCalGas Manager – Utility Partnering & Portfolio Integration.
Learn more about what Able can do for you.
Mark S. Kelly
President | Able Services