An air-loop was designed, constructed and instrumented to characterize the heat transfer rates and energy storage potential of a small scale PCM thermal energy storage (TES) unit. The storage unit was custom made and housed multiple aluminum flat plates filled with PCM (RT44HC). The plates were aligned in two rows of 29. Overall, three variables were studied for the characterization: the HTF flow rates, the initial temperature of the PCM and the HTF inlet temperature. An empirical model was created in TRNSYS. This model was used to simulate a PCM TES integrated into an AHU using the integration method of strategic heating with the goal of reducing peak power during start-up. The simulation results were compared to the AHU without PCM TES to determine whether any energy improvements were achieved. It was determined that by adding the PCM TES the start-up peak power could be reduced by 35 kW.