Georgia bank saves 41% first year energy costs with VRF

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Century Bank & Trust of Milledgeville, Georgia, is an independent community bank that has been in operation since 1898 – almost 120 years. It is located 100 miles southeast of Atlanta, in Georgia’s original, antebellum capital. The bank is housed in a 24,000-square-foot, three-level building that was remodeled about 25 years ago.


Century Bank’s renovation 25 years ago combined two separate buildings. The renovation also included the installation of a water-source heat pump system, which relied on electricity and chilled water to deliver the required cooling and heating. Brian Robinson, vice president of Century Bank, said, “This is a 100 percent on, 100% off system.” This inefficiency cost the bank greatly. “Our bill ran from $6,000 to $8,000 a month,” said Robinson. “Then there were the leaks.” Meanwhile the employees were uncomfortable. “We had heaters at every desk, contributing to the electric bill problem.”

Robinson called in Air Conditioning Specialist, Inc. (ACS), Milledgeville, to study the situation and propose a solution. ACS gathered data on the building’s energy use via EnergyPro – modeling software that lets users design, analyze and optimize complex energy projects.


Scott Reaves, ACS senior project manager, said, “We used this software to track Century Bank’s energy consumption at the time, and to predict future energy consumptions in various scenarios.” Three scenarios were analyzed: 1) to install the same system the bank had; 2) to install a non-Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning system; and 3) to install a VRF zoning system. The predicted cost savings figured in equipment from Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating Division, and when it came to the VRF zoning scenario, “the prediction looked good. Almost too good,” Robinson said. The prediction looked so good that the bank called in a second company, Georgia Power, to conduct another study. “Their cost savings looked even better,” Robinson said. So they called in a third company to confirm that such cost savings were actually possible, “and their cost savings looked even better.”

The cost savings predictions were impossible to ignore, but the bank was also focused on improving employee and customer comfort. The bank’s previous system was outdated and aging quickly, but it did offer 20 zones. Reaves said, “They didn’t want to lose that zoning capability, and in fact hoped to have even more zones such that everyone could have their own control.”


Another significant item on the wish list was the bank’s commitment to staying open throughout the installation. Finding a system that satisfied the bank’s energy savings and zoning requirements while allowing minimal installation impact could have provided an insurmountable challenge.

ACS removed and replaced the entire existing chilled water system, and then brought in and installed over 60 tons of Mitsubishi Electric equipment. “The whole installation was very professional,” Robinson said, “and not one time did it interrupt business. The [Mitsubishi Electric] equipment was so much smaller and easier to install. ACS had a harder time taking out the old, heavy units than they did installing the new ones.”

Following installation completion, the bank immediately saw reductions in energy usage. Reaves said, “We ran an energy model and the results were outstanding. We saw an energy savings of more than 28%.” The bank additionally saw reductions in water consumption of about $100 per month. Robinson said that while the three cost savings predictions had all been impressive, “the real energy savings were even better. And this is comparing apples to apples; I’m looking at last June compared to this June, and the weather has been consistent.”

Century Bank & Trust
Project Location:
Milledgeville, Georgia

Completion Date:
April 2012

Project Team
Century Bank & Trust:
Brian Robinson, vice president; Amy
Champagne, chief financial officer

HVAC Contractor:
Air Conditioning Specialist, Inc.,
Milledgeville, Georgia

HVAC Distributor:
Mingledorff’s, Suwanee, Georgia

Drinkard Engineering Group, Inc.,
Rome, Georgia

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