Building Operator Certification training has left its mark on Len Hintze.
“It’s always in the back of my mind, all the information that came from there,” said Hintze, senior engineer for Berlex Laboratories’ (formerly Immunex) facility in Bothell, WA. He regularly considers such BOC topics as indoor air quality, lighting types, energy conservation opportunities, thermostat setbacks heat-recovery options and motor specifications. Hintze has earned both Level 1 (1999) and Level 2 (2001) certification.
“It’s just a good solid base,” said Hintze. BOC, he added, “exposes you to all the different aspects of the buildings. That’s what I like about it.”
With this broader perspective, he said, building operators better understand their facilities. For example, lowering airflows can save money, but they can also pose IAQ concerns through reduced fresh air. “You think about it rather than jumping in.”
Hintze and his engineering colleagues at the biotechnology company have much to think about in their day-to-day work. Berlex’s Bothell facility features one building with 85,000 square feet, featuring offices as well as various laboratories and other scientific areas. HVAC, WFI water and clean steam are provided separately for each building (which include the Berlex building and two Amgen buildings), along with central utilities of plant steam, chilled water, WDI water and compressed air.
Berlex increasingly relies on computer controls for its building systems, Hintze said, although energy conservation practices still still have a ways to go for the biotech industry. It also faces some inherent limitations, given the 24/7 lab operations and stringent temperature and air requirements.
Still, Berlex has made energy efficiency gains in its Bothell facility–with some prodding from Hintze, who credited BOC as his first conservation-related training. (Two Berlex colleagues are certified from Level I.)
He listed energy-saving measures including a full lighting retrofit in two buildings (with a $40,000 incentive payment from Snohomish County PUD), an economizer for a steam plant boiler, setback thermostats and occupancy sensors in offices, capacitor banks for power factor corrections in two buildings, and variable-speed drive installations. Among other ideas in his mind are reusing boiler condensate and changing chiller sizes to enable more efficient staging of operations.
“If something comes across my desk, I’ll see if I can add it,” Hintze said. “Sometimes management says yes, sometimes they say no.” He thinks BOC training for upper management would help “get the point across” on saving energy. “That’s the challenge sometime… They don’t seem to have a real grasp on the energy efficiency themselves.”
Hintze knows to attach numbers to his proposals, and BOC has helped in that regard. For example, through the training he learned of ways to measure water leaks, handy in pursuing water efficiency projects. He also uses software he received through BOC in specifying motors. And he sometimes refers to his BOC class materials “when a particular problem comes up.”
In addition to the knowledge he gained from BOC, Hintze said he still enjoys talking with building operators he met outside his industry, to find out what’s happening outside biotech.
Looking to his future, he believes BOC certification gives him a valuable credential. “Who knows if I’ll be here forever? The BOC… looks good on a resume.”
By Mark Ohrenschall.