For 80 years, the historic R.J. Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, served as the corporate headquarters for The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, a subsidary of Reynolds America, Inc. In 2009, when Reynolds America relocated offices, the building went up for sale. But in 2014, the building gained new owners. PMC Property Group, Philadelphia, and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurant Group, San Francisco, purchased the building with the plan to offer a boutqiue hotel and luxury apartments to visitors and/or future residents of Winston-Salem.
A challenge of the Reynolds Building’s restoration was replacing the outdated HVAC system with a modern, energy-efficient system that could meet the building’s needs. The building needed an unobtrusive and whisper-quiet system while providing tenants with individual control. The mechanical contractor on the job, First State Mechanical, Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, knew Mitsubishi Electric Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology was the only solution because of its flexibility in design and installation, and because it would not cause any damage to the building’s architecture.
With technical assistance from Comfort Supply, Inc., Pittsburgh, the project team easily installed 84 outdoor units and 425 indoor units, providing the building with a maximum capacity of 5.8 million Btus. In addition to the mechanical equipment, the Reynolds Building was also outfitted with superior controls to keep its tenants comfortable year-round. For the hotel side, specifically, the building system operators have front-end control of the entire building’s HVAC system by using our Diamond Controls™. However, nearly all rooms within the apartments and hotel utilize SmartME Remote Controllers, which allows the building to conserve energy.
Through the renovation, the Reynolds Building has been given new purpose, serving as one of the greatest places to stay or live in Winston-Salem. Once again, our VRF has proven itself to be an effective cooling and heating solution in historic renovations.
To learn more about the Reynolds Building restoration, read the case study provided by Comfort Supply, Inc. here.
A few years ago, Dan Gainsboro, founder and principal of NOW Communities, LLC, Concord, Massachusetts, built the award-winning community of Concord Riverwalk. The West Concord, Massachusetts, development consists of 13 Zero Energy Ready Homes.
While planning the development, Gainsboro faced his largest challenge ‒ finding a system that would cool and heat the homes in an unpredictable climate while also offering impressive energy efficiency. With research and expertise from ZeroEnergy Design, Boston, Gainsboro knew our Zoned Comfort Solutions™ would keep these houses comfortable and efficient even in New England’s icy winter weather.
Gainsboro said, “Japanese-designed mini-splits are just bulletproof. They require little maintenance and are reliable. And the efficiencies!” Gainsboro also noted how year-round performance was a big consideration in the selection process. He continued, “I’ve had good luck with Mitsubishi [Electric] in the past; they’re a bit ahead of the others in terms of addressing concerns related to heating.”
Since project completion, Concord Riverwalk has received media attention across the building industry, applauding its innovative concept and exceptional performance. According to Gainsboro, the residents have also been extremely pleased, especially with their homes’ comfort and low energy costs. Gainsboro said, “I think people are generally pretty satisfied with the return-on-investment for their high-performance home. I believe one resident’s daily electricity is 25 cents a day!”
To read more about Concord Riverwalk, check out the full case study here.
When Jenny and Aaron Stash wanted to settle down in Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, they searched for a house that would meet their requirements. For the Stashes, that meant sustainability, high indoor air quality and energy efficiency. After an unsuccessful search, the Stashes decided to build a home of their own. They carefully designed and built a three-floor, 3,500-square-foot house and incorporated many sustainable elements into its architecture. The Stashes outfitted the home with bamboo flooring, fiber-cement siding, LED lighting and one of our extremely energy-efficient cooling and heating systems.
The Stashes called in Michael S. Kollman, AIA, LEED AP and the president of SmartHaus, Inc., Prairie View, Illinois, a high-performance home design-build company, to find an HVAC system. The selected system would need to provide year-round comfort and be energy-efficient. Kollman worked with two University of Illinois engineers to find an answer for the house. The result: our Zoned Comfort Solutions™.
Kollman said, “Mini-split heat pumps with a conditioned energy recovery ventilation system would give us all the features we wanted and the highest-obtainable indoor air quality. We also looked at geothermal, radiant and forced air systems, but because the envelope is so efficient we just didn’t need a tremendous amount of energy. Mini-splits were the perfect solution.”
The Stashes’ home qualified for LEED® Platinum certification thanks, in part, to our system’s ability to reduce distribution losses and optimize energy. In addition to helping achieve LEED certification, our system also allowed the Stashes to see a great reduction in energy usage. Compared to other houses in Illinois, the Stashes’ home uses just one-quarter of the energy each month!
To read more about the Stashes’ LEED-certified home and how it saves energy all year round, check out the full case study.
Brannon Gardens is a newly built community in the suburbs of Lexington, Kentucky, offering customizable, ranch-style homes. As residents began to move in, several complained about experiencing thermal discomfort on the bedroom level. The cause: ineffective traditional HVAC. The entire community – some already built, some just spec’d – would need to find a solution to address the zoning issues. That solution: our Zoned Comfort Solutions™.
William Richmond, owner and president, Richmond Mechanical, Inc., Lexington, worked with the home builder to fix the airflow issue. Richmond came to the conclusion that dampers would not solve anything and adding a second HVAC system wasn’t practical. The project team took interest in our systems’ INVERTER technology, among many other features and benefits. For Richmond, the answer was clear: “I researched all of the brands. Mitsubishi [Electric] is the only one that goes to 13 below zero. It’s the only one that has a 3-ton air handler you can put ducts on and run to multiple rooms.”
With our Zoned Comfort Solutions, residents of the Brannon Gardens community can now achieve comfort in all parts of their homes at a lower cost of operation. Many residents are also using our kumo cloud™ programmable controller app, which allows them to control their indoor units remotely over their smartphone, tablet or computer.
To learn about Brannon Gardens, which will build another 200+ homes in the next four years, outfitted exclusively with our cooling and heating systems, read the entire case study here.
In recent years, there has been an effort in Detroit to restore the city’s historic downtown area. This rehabilitation included the David Whitney Building (David Whitney), which sat vacant for 15 years prior to its recent renovation. The mixed-use building now offers luxury residences, the Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney (Aloft), a restaurant and a bar.
A challenging, yet essential component of the David Whitney’s restoration, was selecting an HVAC system that could meet the 100-year-old building’s needs. The new system needed to serve the large space without disrupting any of its historic charm.
During the planning stages, developer Vince Dattilo, vice president of construction and project management, Roxbury Group, Detroit, and his team were concerned with the high cost and feasibility of running ductwork. Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology was appealing for its avoidance of this issue, as well as its impressive efficiency and reliability. Energy modeling supported VRF as the best option: Going with VRF would bring the original $6.8 million estimate for a forced-air system down to $5 million.
The project team selected VRF from Mitsubishi Electric. In addition to solving the need for low utility costs, Mitsubishi Electric’s indoor units’ clean design contributed to maintaining the building’s architectural integrity. Further, both guests and employees of Aloft appreciate the system’s high level of consistency and ability to provide personalized comfort in each individual room. Scott Mondock, Aloft’s director of engineering, called Mitsubishi Electric VRF “probably one of the best systems I’ve ever had a chance to work with.”
To learn more about how the David Whitney restoration has served as a catalyst for continued city of Detroit restoration, read the case study here.
St. Ignatius Loyola School, Cincinnati, is the largest private school in the state. Since its original structure dates back to the 1950s, many of the classrooms did not have air conditioning, making the warmer months unbearable. In the winter, the school’s low-pressure boiler consumed a lot of gas, and in turn, cost a lot of money to run adequately. With over 1,000 K-8 students enrolled, the school’s HVAC system needed an upgrade in both comfort and efficiency.
The new system needed to meet three objectives: flexible design, easy maintenance and improved controls for cost savings. Tim Schweikert, the school’s physical plant manager, liked Mitsubishi Electric’s Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology because it offered quiet operation and efficiency. As the only two-pipe VRF system, it would also allow for flexible design for a space-constrained building.
According to Schweikert, the VRF system has exceeded expectations: “When we compare our utility bill to the one from last year, it’s about the same. Keep in mind that we didn’t have air conditioning before and that this new bill includes at least 12 weeks of air conditioning. So it’s like we got free air conditioning.”
In addition to the school’s new cooling capabilities, the system has also performed well during one of Cincinnati’s coldest winters in 15 years. Despite temperatures dropping well below zero degrees Fahrenheit, the system kept up, providing exceptional comfort.
To learn more about the benefits of VRF in St. Ignatius Loyola School, be sure to check out the case study here.
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In the early 2000s, the tiny house trend hit the ground running when homeowners wanted to embrace a simplified lifestyle. As featured on HGTV’s Tiny House, Big Living, tiny house owners Mark and Jen Athanacio loved this new lifestyle because it combined affordable living and comfort in a small space. However, these advantages also came with a question – how can you adequately cool and heat a 224-square-foot house?
When the Athanacios moved from an efficiency apartment to a tiny house in Naples, Florida, they wanted an HVAC system that would provide quality cooling and heating without the stress of having to pay hefty household bills. The Athanacios worked with Speedy Air Conditioning, Inc., Naples, one of our Diamond Contractors™ to select a system that would also give them the ability to adjust airflow throughout the small space.
Limited interior space can be a challenge, but our Zoned Comfort Solutions™ proved to be a perfect fit for this tiny house. Just because the Athanacios’ cooling and heating system is small and their bills are low doesn’t mean their comfort is reduced. Talking about our M-Series system, Mark said, “It’s so quiet. I’m standing under [the indoor unit] right now and still talking on the phone! Overall, it’s just been fantastic. The system is so much more efficient and it looks so much better than window units. I don’t know why more people don’t do this.”
To learn more about how easy it is to install one of our zoned systems in a tiny house, read here.
The Sacramento Drill Tower, Sacramento, California, is an unusual building. A large water tank takes up two-thirds of the 9,476-square-foot, concrete facility. The other third is occupied by offices for the city’s firemen, administrators and IT personnel. For years, these occupants were cooled and heated by a four-pipe chilled-water and boiler system. When that system failed, the city installed our Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology. The result: immense energy savings and easy maintenance.
When the building’s old chilled-water compressor failed, Nghiem Nguyen, the mechanical maintenance supervisor for City of Sacramento Facility Maintenance turned to our systems. “I was fully impressed by VRF and Mitsubishi [Electric]. They were so far ahead of everybody else when it came to VRF. The engineering aspect and operational maintenance were really in place . . . I knew this would be a great application. It wouldn’t be hard to retrofit since we wouldn’t have to open up the walls to pull out old lines. The real selling feature, though, was the energy savings. I knew it was going to be huge for us.”
Ngyuen was correct. Comparing pre- and post-installation energy data shows that the system’s efficiency has led to a total energy savings (kBtu usage) of 50 percent, and a total cost savings of 19 percent. Money has also been saved on maintenance: “We’re saving so much money on service calls and maintenance calls. We probably have a tenth of the service calls we had before.”
The Sacramento Drill Tower project was so successful that it inspired the city to use VRF at two more facilities. To learn more, check out the case study.