Putting the MVP in MEP
Spotlight on Phil Mertens, CA’s Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Project Manager
As CA’s Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Project Manager, Phil Mertens has saved the day countless times over the past eight and a half years. Whether it’s dealing with a weather crisis, water leak or power outage, his expertise is invaluable in helping to keep CA’s facilities running smoothly.
But Phil isn’t just focused on putting out the small fires that pop up. CA’s commitment to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Challenge and Better Climate Challenge means that opportunities to make our facilities more energy-efficient are always on his mind.
With Energy Awareness Month coming up in October, now is the perfect time to celebrate and recognize the hard work and dedication of Phil and the entire CA sustainability team.
“Reducing carbon emissions associated with energy use helps reduce the threat of climate change, so it’s an incredibly rewarding challenge,” Phil says. “That’s why if equipment is eclipsing in age, we don’t just replace it. At CA, our team is always looking for upgraded options that raise the bar on both comfortability and performance.”
Advancing energy efficiency at CA
In 2019, CA hit a major milestone in the Better Buildings Challenge by reaching a 20% reduction in energy use. The next target is a 30% reduction in energy use by spring 2024.
There are a number of ways that CA’s team is working to move the needle on this goal. One that Phil is particularly “pumped” about? Advancing heat pump technology in CA spaces.
“Embracing heat pump technology supports our efforts to electrify and move away from fossil fuel usage,” he says. “The dual fuel units allow for the heat pump to handle the bulk of the heating load and still have natural gas available for back-up.”
In summer 2023, the sustainability team completed the installation of five dual fuel heat pump (DFHP) units at Supreme Sports Club, which is CA’s largest facility. Compared to more conventional HVAC units, the heat pump operation of the new equipment is estimated to reduce natural gas usage by 70%. This project even received national recognition with a 2023 Better Project Award from the U.S. DOE.
“We are looking forward to installing more high-efficiency units in various CA facilities over the next few years,” says Phil. “There’s such an exciting variety of applications in the heat pump realm.”
In late September, CA’s team completed a similar project at the Columbia Art Center. Next up? Looking at ways to utilize ductless heating systems in the lower level of the Art Center, which will further increase energy efficiency.
Heat pumps aren’t just setting a new standard for energy efficiency at CA’s indoor facilities. This summer, hybrid heat pump technology replaced the last liquid petroleum tank in use at one of CA’s 23 outdoor pools. And while our outdoor pools are closed for the season, Phil and the sustainability team are already thinking ahead to summer 2024.
“As pool regulations move from a turnover of eight hours to six, we’ll need bigger pumps and filter systems, so that affects our electrical requirements,” he explains. “Upgrading infrastructure so that it’s fit for new equipment is often as much a part of the job as actually installing the new equipment.”
You may also like:
- Summer Sustainability Highlights at CA
- Every Day is Energy Efficiency Day at CA
- CA Receives Federal Recognition for Energy Efficiency Projects
- CA Recognized as Inaugural Partner in the Better Climate Challenge