Convention Center Saves Money On Energy Consumption

By Luke Lancaster on 20th Apr 2023

Aging infrastructure upgrades save a large convention center 8% annually

One of the largest and most well-known convention centers in the world covers acres of land in a large city, but also has a hidden problem. The center is over 50 years old, and its aging electrical infrastructure draws a lot of electricity.

As in, an energy bill ranging from $4 million to $5 million every year. 

This didn’t sit right with the building’s superintendent. 

“I think that’s a little excessive,” he said. “Before we took over the building, it was a norm and that’s not a norm. You need to study that and bring that down.” 

Something needed to change. Without an upgrade to make the convention center more energy efficient, its packed schedule of conferences, shows, summits, and other events could quickly dry up. That’s why the superintendent reached out to a local company that specializes in VFD retrofits and aging infrastructure upgrades.  

Here’s how we helped him take control of the convention center’s energy consumption, all without disrupting any of the center’s 350 annual events. 


Convention Center by CbI62 at English Wikipedia

Significant reduction in energy consumption

The superintendent’s primary goal was to reduce energy consumption and bring down that annual spend. To do this, we worked with his team to replace between 60 and 80 aging motors and install almost 100 variable frequency drives on his mechanical equipment.

The campus’ central facility alone has seven 1,000-ton chillers and over 20 pumps and cooling towers, and that was where his team wanted to start. They realized that the equipment was aging and wasn’t as efficient as it should be. 

This concern is common among buildings with older equipment. In some cases, more modern and efficient technology had been developed. In many other cases, older equipment simply doesn’t function the way it should and leads to efficiency losses or additional costs. 

Along with other energy efficiency initiatives, adding new VFDs to that equipment has dropped the convention center’s energy bill by 8 percent. That adds up to over $300,000 annually. 

Along with other energy efficiency initiatives, adding new VFDs to that equipment has dropped the convention center’s energy bill by 8 percent. That adds up to over $300,000 annually. 

BMS compatibility made easy

Going into the project, one of the main concerns was our equipment’s compatibility with the existing building management system. After all, if the VFDs can’t communicate with the system, there’s no way to control them and there’s no reason to install them. 

“The venue is aged by the years and a couple decades of expansion, but they put in a BMS by the name of Siemens APOGEE,” the superintendent said. “That’s a very, very old system. It’s not even supported anymore from Siemens.” 

This is a major problem with many facilities with aging infrastructure. The team on site often must work with multiple systems as old ones become obsolete. Although new systems also have added benefit, they also have a cost to implement and learn. 

In the end, he didn’t need to worry. Our team ensured all our drives came equipped with Siemens’ propriety means of protocol network communication – FLN communication. To do this, we sourced the communication cards, installed them before delivery, and checked that the VFDs were compatible upon installation. 

This meant that they got the best of both worlds: new equipment that communicated with their existing system, meaning ease of use combined with upgraded efficiency. 

For the convention center team, this was all so smooth and simple, they didn’t even realize the equipment was originally built without those communication cards. 

Seamless installation with only one team

Throughout the sales process, the superintendent and his team worked closely with ours to solidify their goals for the convention center and chart the best path forward to reach them. But the partnership didn’t end after those initial conversations and the resulting sales. Our team also provided the labor for installation and startup, meaning the superintendent only had to work with one contractor he already trusted. 

This streamlined communication and further lightened his very heavy load. 

“It’s seamless,” he said. “I love the process. They come in, one team worked with my team, and when they come on site, the deliverables are 100 percent acceptable. They know what they’re doing. They listen to what I’m trying to do.” 

VFD tech installing VFD system

Ready to reduce your energy consumption?

By upgrading aging equipment, installing VFDs throughout the convention center, and introducing other energy-saving initiatives, the property reduced its daily energy consumption by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Not only that, but the superintendent also gained a partner and trusted advisor – he never had to worry about the product, service, or installation. He trusted us to take care of his campus, leaving him to do his job. 

And with those savings, the convention center team is continuing to invest in the its energy efficiency. All while the new, more reliable equipment: 

  • Keeps the 50+ people on their team safe throughout installation and maintenance, thanks to its metal enclosure and safety devices 

  • Communicates easily with the existing BMS 

  • Supports the HVAC system and other mechanical equipment to ensure the campus is comfortable for the full events calendar 

Efficiency gains and eliminating potential downtime are common benefits for aging infrastructure upgrades like this one. For one of the world’s busiest convention centers, however, it meant even more than that. 

“It’s an event center, so it’s always occupied,” the superintendent said. “It’s big, huge, downtown, moving bodies – that’s the atmosphere, and approaching that without disruption? Not even allowing the visitors to know that we’re here or what we’re doing? We did that.”  

Want to save money on your energy bill?

Our team of experts with decades of experience in VFD efficenticy, can help you save money with your aging system.