Case Study: Performance Contracting

Kentucky Exposition Center

Commonwealth of KentuckyLouisville, Kentucky

An Extensive Renovation Produces Incredible Energy Savings

The Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC), located in Louisville, Kentucky, encompasses 1.7 million square feet of conference, arena, and exhibit space, making it the sixth largest facility of its kind in the country. Several signature events occur each year at KEC, including the Kentucky State Fair.

Facility managers at KEC were facing the steadily growing challenge and expense of operating and maintaining an original 1956 45,000 lb/hr inefficient steam boiler system. As an energy conscious building owner and state agency, KEC’s goal with a replacement project was not only to install a new heating system, but to improve the efficiency of the overall plant. However, the capital to replace the system was not available. 

The Challenges

  • Alleviate “ratchet penalties” caused by the Kentucky Exposition Center’s peak electric demand during the Kentucky State Fair
  • Eliminate the outdated steam plant and replace it with a modern steam boiler plant
  • Convert electric heating devices to use the hot water plant
  • Achieve sufficient energy efficiency to fully fund the project through guaranteed savings
  • Perform all these functions while the facilities were in use and occupied
  • Renovate entire chilled water system
  • Replace aging and often inoperable lighting control system with a new web-based system and reduce electric consumption
Created with Sketch.

This was the smoothest construction project I can remember during my tenure at KEC. The project was ahead of all issues before they became problems, this was a great benefit to the Operations Department. Created with Sketch.

Kevin McCoy

Assistant Director of Operations

The Solutions

Due to the age of KEC’s inefficient steam boiler plant, a complete replacement system was required. CMTA was careful to install a system that fit the needs of this facility, including 15 new condensing gas hot-water boilers, hot water pumps, and boiler accessories.

In addition to the challenge of aging infrastructure, this facility also had a unique energy usage profile. Being an exposition center, load peaks do not follow a typical 9-5 schedule. Instead, events like the Kentucky State Fair drive large spikes in electric usage. These spikes result in minimum demand charge “ratchets” that in the past penalized KEC’s electric bill.

Before this project, the impact of the Kentucky State Fair elevated minimum demand charges for the next eleven months. CMTA’s “peak shaving” demand reduction strategies included converting constant volume air handling units to single-zone variable volume AHUs, adding duty-cycle controls, replacing electric domestic water heating and electric space heating with condensing natural gas appliances, and installing carbon dioxide-based demand ventilation controls to produce reduced cooling loads.

Phase 2 included electrical, HVAC, infrastructure, and plumbing system upgrades to the North, South, and West Wings, East and West Halls, Freedom Hall, New Market Hall, and Broadbent Arena, all 100% funded from savings. CMTA renovated the entire chilled water system, including the replacement of three chillers totaling 3,050 tons, converted the chiller system to a variable primary pumping strategy, and installed 3,000 feet of 12-inch chilled water pipe throughout the exhibit space. This chiller plant interconnection scope linked the South Wing and West Wing chilled water piping, so that the South Wing chilled water plant could serve the entire KEC main facility.

A comprehensive interior and exterior LED lighting renovation across the entire KEC campus included upgrades to almost 25,000 fixtures. Additionally, the aged and inoperable lighting control system was replaced with a new web-based system with occupancy sensors that controls all interior and exterior fixtures and allows dimming, thus saving energy.

Dealing with the Energy Demand of the Kentucky State Fair

The Kentucky State Fair is the flagship event of the Kentucky Exposition Center. Attended by more than 600,000 people and featuring thousands of animals and dozens of concerts, food vendors and carnival rides, it is also the most energy-intensive event at the venue each year. With CMTA's understanding of utility rate structures and our development of energy conservation methods, we were able to reduce peak demand by 2000 kW and save KEC more than $100,000 in demand charge penalties annually.

The Results

CMTA came through in a big way for the Kentucky Exposition Center. The demand from the Kentucky State Fair was 2 megawatts (2,000 kilowatts) less than previous years, which reduced the subsequent 11 months of electric bills.

As a bonus, CMTA improved the air quality inside the facility, a critical issue for events such as the Kentucky State Fair’s agricultural show that spotlights thousands of livestock, horses, and other animals. Due to CMTA's energy conservation measures, more than 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions are eliminated annually, compared to pre-project KEC emissions.

KEC required that the project be fully funded through energy and operational cost savings over a 14-year period. CMTA therefore conducted a thorough review of the facility's systems, energy, and repair costs to help us determine future savings. Over the past year (spring 2020 to spring 2021), KEC saved $1,602,589 in energy costs, compared to CMTA's guarantee of $1,519,710. That adds up to an excess savings beyond the guarantee of $82,879.

Kentucky Expo Center Energy Use

What does this data mean?
Baseline: The annual energy consumption before the project
Guaranteed: CMTA's guaranteed energy use for the client post-project
Actual: The measured energy use after the project