Leatherman Tool Group Success Story

OR_Leatherman_CD_11297_010_325x254.jpgAdvanced HVAC controls allow Leatherman Tool Group to cut costs. Scott Bacon, Leatherman facilities maintenance manager, meets with Pacific Power’s Cheryl Carter.

Leatherman Tool Group, manufacturers of pocket tools and knives, prides itself on creating tools that prepare people for any emergency. But when it came to controlling the heating, ventilating and air conditioning units on its own roof, the Portland company was continually reacting to the unexpected.

With the help of Energy Trust of Oregon, Leatherman invested in advanced controls to monitor and fine-tune its HVAC units, delivering estimated annual savings of $62,900. Energy Trust teams up with Pacific Power to offer energy saving programs, technical assistance and cash incentives to customers. 

Outdated system limits options

“The antiquated DOS-based controls were at the end of their life and becoming increasingly difficult to repair,” said Scott Bacon, facilities maintenance manager at Leatherman. “At first, we thought our only options were to install Windows-based controls, which would still leave us unable to optimize the efficiency of the constant-volume rooftop units, or to completely replace the units, which was quite expensive.”

Through Energy Trust, Bacon learned about advanced HVAC controls, which turn constant-volume rooftop units into dynamic part-load systems that automatically adjust according to temperature, occupancy, airflow and other parameters. The advanced controls include a wireless network on the roof that connects all the units to web-based software.

Advanced technology improves control

Now Leatherman has much more visibility and flexibility in the performance of its rooftop units. Facilities personnel keep an eye on the units in real-time using any computer or tablet. Yellow warning lights alert personnel that something will soon need attention; green lights indicate all is well. Personnel easily adjust set points, schedules and sequencing, even remotely. 

“These advanced controls took us from a reactive to a proactive mode,” said Bacon. “Before, we didn’t know there was a problem with a unit until we received complaints from employees. Now, facilities personnel identify issues and resolve them before occupants even arrive. We’re not only cutting operating costs, we’re improving comfort.”

Upgrade reduces energy costs

By installing advanced HVAC controls on all 59 rooftop units, Leatherman was able to trim its annual energy costs by an estimated $62,900 and save 623,832 kilowatt hours In electricity each year. With a $210,332 cash incentive from Energy Trust helping to offset the project cost, Leatherman expects its investment to pay for itself in just under two years.

After working on seven projects with Energy Trust, Leatherman has saved a total of 2.2 million kilowatt hours. But the company doesn’t think it’s done. “I intend to keep taking advantage of Energy Trust help,” said Bacon.

For details on energy efficiency incentives and services for Oregon businesses, contact your account manager, call Energy Trust at 1-866-368-7878 or visit energytrust.org.