Performance Services guarantees City-County Building energy savings

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

They came out of the woodwork over the last few years: upstart energy-efficiency consultants, along with existing companies introducing “green” building specialties.

The enterprising firms seized on a flurry of new federal grants and tax credits available for efficiency and renewable energy. They warned that Congress is scheming to tax carbon emissions, which could drive up electric rates.

One firm in the sector, locally based Performance Services Inc., hit the green jackpot recently, landing a deal with the city to make more efficient all 28 floors of the high-profile City-County Building.

Yet Performance Services is not a new company. It was a pioneer in the energy savings niche more than a decade before green became cool or was perceived to be a viable market.

For the last 12 years, PSI has toiled quietly, mostly in public-sector projects involving schools, municipal buildings and medical facilities. It may be better known elsewhere, such as in the Indiana-Ohio border town of Union City. There, PSI has quarterbacked the construction of two 1-megawatt wind turbines to power the town and its schools.

“We’ve done over 100 energy savings projects,” said Tim Thoman, president and founder of PSI.

To those outside the engineering and construction realms, PSI is an animal that’s a bit hard to classify. The 50-employee firm calls itself a “design-build engineering and construction company.”

In a traditional project, an architect/engineer designs a building first, with a competitive bidding process later to pick contractors.

Under design-build, PSI essentially handles all aspects of a project itself—competitively bidding equipment and installation. It is solely responsible for seeing that all elements of a project are completed.

PerformanceDesign-build has turned out to be an attractive format for energy-savings projects. It allows PSI to guarantee a set level of savings and building performance.

For example, with the City-County Building project, PSI guarantees that the city will save at least $250,000 a year—or it has to cut the city a check for the shortfall. So far, among all clients, “we haven’t cut any checks,” Thoman said.

He thinks the accountability aspect helped land a number of projects, including work for Hamilton Southeastern Schools that PSI guarantees will save the district $1.1 million a year. Improvements range from rewriting control sequences for HVAC systems to high-efficiency boilers.

A lot of buildings already have efficient equipment and sophisticated digital controls. But traditionally there’s little incentive for contractors to set them up most efficiently before heading to the next job.

“[Building owners] are tired of spending a lot of money for a building that doesn’t work well,” Thoman said.

At their Carmel headquarters off Gray Road near East 96th Street, PSI engineers have the “very methodical and analytical” task of monitoring clients’ buildings, via an Internet link. They keep precise records of energy consumption. If someone at the school overrides a building’s HVAC settings, “we know immediately. We can work with the facility to improve energy efficiency.”

While the nearly 50-year-old City-County Building was well-maintained over the years, the maintenance team wasn’t enabled to make much in the way of holistic improvements, said PSI’s business development manager, Phil Yuska. He’s been combing over the building for weeks, marveling at robust features such as welded steel ductwork. “It’s built like a tank.”

Thoman is banking on a 40-percent improvement to building efficiency.

“They weren’t focused on energy efficiency when they built it,” said Thoman, who worked for HVAC giants Johnson Controls and Siemens before founding PSI.

One of the solutions will be a geothermal system.

The tower sits on a high water table. Its basement is deluged with thousands of gallons of water daily that must be pumped out. The geothermal system will strip heat from the 55-degree water for heating in winter. In summer, the water will be used for cooling.

The project also includes new street lighting on the building’s grounds that will be powered by batteries fed by vertical wind turbines and photovoltaic cells mounted atop light poles.

The guaranteed annual savings will be about $780,000, but the city’s net savings will be $250,000 a year over the 15-year life of the project.

“The majority of this savings will be used to pay for the energy conservation measures to make the building more energy-efficient,” said Karen Haley, the city’s director of sustainability.•


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

  2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

  3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

  4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

  5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?