Case Study: Express Scripts – A Multi-Tiered Efficiency Program

When the project was completed, the enhanced comfort at the energy efficient facility sparked another big change: higher employee productivity.

Project Name and Location: Express Scripts Call Center | 10045 S. US Highway 1 | Port St. Lucie, FL 34952
General Contractor: Hill York | 3921 Westgate Ave. | West Palm Beach, FL 33409 | 561.689.7344
Completion Date: March 2015

Project Scope: A Fortune 100 company and one of the nation’s leading pharmacy benefit management services, Express Scripts operates a number of call centers around the country. The HVAC equipment at their flagship call center in Port St. Lucie, Florida was near the end of its lifecycle and problems were mounting. More frequent breakdowns and repairs had become the norm, and unusually high humidity and hot and cold spots throughout the facility were causing a crisis in comfort and employee productivity.

Having retained Hill York to handle maintenance on the building after acquiring it in 2012, in 2014 Express Scripts asked for a quote to replace the aging HVAC units with new “like for like” systems. Hill York’s Energy Solutions Group conducted a detailed facility efficiency assessment at the Call Center, uncovering a disturbing trend. Not only were the humidity levels abnormally high, but they peaked in the winter months – a clear sign of frequent short-cycling and inefficiency.

The extreme humidity issues were contributing to declines in worker productivity, which required an alternate approach to system replacements. Hill York’s recommended strategy: Convert the system design from a decentralized, air cooled application to a central chilled water application. The upgrade consisted of a 200 ton water cooled plant with air handling units having complete variable capacity. Also key to the plan was the installation of an energy smart ventilation system to reduce cooling loads and a web-accessible HVAC control system that allows remote monitoring and management of the building from off-site locations. The overall system increases energy efficiency, enhances system control, and improves employee comfort all while reducing utility costs.

The plan included one more attractive feature that was consistent with Express Scripts’ corporate commitment to promoting sustainable business practices. The chiller plant recaptured condensate and recirculated it back into the system rather than send it down the drain as is often done in construction projects.

Building on their success in helping the City of Port St. Lucie save in excess of $154,000 a year in energy costs, Hill York began discussions with Express Scripts management to recommend a value-added course of action in addition to the requested replacement option. At a meeting led by Vice President of Energy Solutions Rob Pulsifer and Vice President of Construction Mike Senecal, a data-backed proposal presented some meaningful statistics to Express Scripts’ corporate executives at the national level.

Hill York’s financial analysis showed that by switching to a chilled water system, the resulting energy efficiency improvements would produce utility savings of $71,000 a year. Even more impressive, the value of increased employee productivity resulting from a more comfortable working environment far surpassed the energy savings. Express Scripts executives approved the plan on the spot and green-lighted the project within days.
“Express Scripts initially viewed the project as an air conditioning issue with utility cost savings at stake,” observed Pulsifer. “We were able to show them the even bigger potential to impact their core business – the productivity of a 450-person call center.”

Completing the project with no interruption to day-to-day operations, Hill York’s comprehensive approach to facility efficiency programs has provided Express Scripts with initial results and a path for company-wide improvements. Humidity levels that once hovered around 70% at the Port St. Lucie call center are now consistently below 50% and employee productivity has rebounded. Through an Energy Services Agreement, building performance continues to be monitored on an ongoing basis to generate additional efficiency benefits and cost reductions over the long haul. The Port St. Lucie project has become a springboard for even greater gains in sustainable success, including ENERGY STAR™ benchmarking and LEED certification of their facilities in Florida and across the country.