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Legal Firm Objects to Older Building's Inefficiencies and Discomfort

Case Study

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Old Building Comes with Age-Old Indoor Comfort Problems

Local law firm Immex Group purchased the upper floor of a 1909, two-story historic building in the once-industrial area of Northwest Portland. Vacant for nearly three years, the 12,000-square-foot space presented many comfort challenges. Air leaked between floors, the fresh air dampers were all closed shut, and the oversized existing HVAC system was aging and inefficient. 

High-Performance HVAC Brings Efficiency, Temperature Control and Improved Air Quality

The owners decided to update their space with efficient equipment that would not only safeguard occupant comfort, but also reflect the firm’s commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency. “We want to be good stewards,” said Emily Wooton, COO of Immix Law Group. “Being a Certified B Corp, energy efficiency is very important to us.”

After looking into their options, the firm discovered that a very high efficiency dedicated outside air system (also referred to as VHE DOAS) was an ideal HVAC solution to meet their needs. DOAS applies the concept of separating heating and cooling from the ventilation system, which allows for optimal control of each of these critical building functions. The system installed for Immix Law Group improves this concept by focusing on efficiency and pairing a high efficiency heating and cooling system with a very high efficiency heat recovery ventilator (HRV). This combination results in:

  • Improved indoor air quality due to 100% outside air being brought into the space
  • Lower energy bills because the very high efficiency HRV allows for a smaller heating and cooling system that runs less often
  • Precise temperature and humidity control

Results

Immix combined their HVAC upgrades with additional energy efficiency improvements by working with Energy Trust of Oregon. Energy Trust helps Oregon businesses and residents benefit from energy-saving solutions by providing cash incentives and technical assistance. Together they identified an incentive package best suited to meet the building’s needs, that included the VRF and HRVs as well as LED lighting, windows and insulation.

Thanks to the very high efficiency DOAS upgrade, the firm is enjoying significantly reduced heating and cooling costs, improved comfort and better air quality. “One of the best benefits has been the quality of air,” said Wooton. “It’s just superior. If you’re to walk in the hallways, you won’t see particulates flying. When the sun shines in, the air is clear and it’s light and it’s crisp and it’s fresh.”

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