WCEC of UC Davis – Davis, California

Energy resource center relies on Strategos® rooftop unit for efficiency


Western Cooling Efficiency Center (WCEC) of UC Davis, a public-private partnership that identifies technology and implements programs to reduce cooling system electrical demand and energy consumption in the western United States.


For businesses and organizations with buildings in the western United States, the Western Cooling Efficiency Center is an invaluable resource: founded in 2006, the WCEC researches and evaluates a variety of energy-efficient cooling technologies, helping transfer the most effective ones to real-world applications to help dramatically reduce energy use and costs in cooling commercial buildings throughout the western states.

Hot climates and high-growth areas in California are leading to increased energy use for cooling, with large afternoon “load spikes” the major cause of electric load peaks. The WCEC’s goals are to reduce cooling energy use in the region’s new buildings by 50% and in existing buildings by 25% and to eliminate or reduce the peak electricity demand for cooling (in combination with renewable electricity sources). Conventional cooling systems don’t always meet the hot, dry region’s specific needs, and the WCEC has committed to identifying suitable cooling strategies.

In January 2008, the WCEC built a 3,500-sq.-ft. facility in Davis, California, to provide exhibit space for those new technologies, training facilities for industry professionals and offices for its staff. The new building was conceived as a model of energy efficiency and sustainable design, developed in partnership with the WCEC’s affiliate members such as HVAC manufacturers (including Lennox Industries), industry contractors, utilities and government agencies.


The WCEC invited a select group of partners to provide the industry’s leading energy-efficient systems for use in the new building. As a four-time Energy Star Manufacturing Partner of the Year, Lennox Industries has a well known commitment to developing technology that will help reduce energy usage; Lennox’ revolutionary Strategos® rooftop unit product line featuring the new MSAV™ (multi-stage air volume) supply fan option was introduced in 2007. The mostenergy-efficient rooftop unit in the industry,* Strategos units are designed for efficiency ratings up to 33% higher than ASHRAE 90.1 standards to give businesses advanced control over energy usage and operational costs. For the WCEC, it was clear that the industry-leading RTU was the preferred choice for meeting its efficiency goals for the new building, so Lennox donated a five-ton Strategos rooftop unit with efficiency ratings of 15.5 SEER and 12.8 EER.

“The WCEC has identified the need to provide systems that can be customized to meet very specific applications; in this case, the climate of the western United States and the region’s extreme cooling requirements,” says Larry Wei, Lennox Commercial Rooftop Unit Product Manager. “With their high efficiency ratings and unique multi-stage air volume supply fan technology, Strategos units are an ideal choice for reducing energy demand while effectively meeting comfort needs.”

Strategos rooftop units’ MSAV technology conserves energy during partial cooling operation with up to seven levels of airflow, providing just the right amount of conditioning for controlled energy use and excellent comfort control. When there is a low demand for cooling and only one compressor is active, the unit will reduce airflow to save energy. As the cooling demand increases and the unit activates additional compressors, the system will increase airflow to provide more cooling capacity. Up to four airflow levels are available for cooling, with separate airflows provided for heating, ventilation and smoke detector mode. Airflow settings on MSAV units can be easily modified in the field to match the specific needs of an application. Available in 3- to 24-ton capacities, “Strategos units help meet green building design objectives and can be an excellent choice for buildings designed to qualify for LEED® credits under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design initiative,” explains Bobby DiFulgentiz, product specialist at Lennox Industries.

Customer response

“We selected the new Strategos unit for the WCEC facility because it was the most efficient cooling unit of its type,” explained Mark Modera, Director of the Western Cooling Efficiency Center. “We have supported implementation of the ‘Hot Dry Air Conditioner’ specifications proposed for California, and we found the Strategos unit to be the only 5-ton rooftop unit available that met the rigid ‘hot dry’ criteria. The unit serves our educational mission by demonstrating an advanced cooling system, and will save energy expenditures for many years to come.”