Retrofitting Boilers Reduces Fuel Usage by 20% at Office Tower

Built in 1981, First Canadian Centre is a 41-story office tower located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The building owners wanted to increase the efficiency and reduce the emissions of the boiler system. Because the pressure vessels of the 30-year-old boilers were in good shape, the owners had several options. They could (1) Replace the steam system with hot water boilers, (2) Utilize Calgary's new heating municipal system, (3) Replace the existing firetube steam boilers with new steam units, or (4) Retrofit the existing boiler units. 


There were challenges associated with each option. Replacing the system with hot water boilers would incur extra costs as it would necessitate replacing the steam boilers' heat exchangers, air handling coils and distribution equipment with all new equipment. Utilizing Calgary's new heating municipal distribution system presented the same challenges and costs of installing a new hot water system. Lastly, installing new steam boilers would require demolition and reconstruction of multiple walls, including the fire-rated stairwells.


Because the boiler pressure vessels in the office tower were in good shape, retrofitting them was an option. By replacing the burners and adding advanced controls to the existing units, the efficiency of the boiler system would match that of a new system at a reduced cost. 


As a result of the boiler retrofit, First Canadian Centre decreased its emissions from uncontrolled (130 ppm NOx) to low NOx (30 ppm) and reduced its fuel usage by 20%. As a result, the owners won the President's Award for Sustainability from the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Calgary.

The retrofitted boiler system at the office tower achieves the same efficiency and emisisons performance as a new boiler system. In addition to superior performance, the upgraded system is easy to maintain, has a low lifecycle cost, and operates quietly.

Because the boiler pressure vessels were in good shape, retrofitting was an option. By replacing the burners and adding advanced controls to the existing units, the efficiency of the boiler system matched that of a new system at a fraction of the cost. 

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