Posts tagged ‘retrofit’

July 19, 2017, 9:00 am

Project Profile: St. Patrick Catholic Church

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Since its inception, St. Patrick Catholic Church (St. Patrick’s) in Lake Forest, Illinois, has been a place for the community to gather. As the Lake Forest community grew over time, the 3,900-square-foot building underwent several structural renovations to accommodate new members and guests. In 2016, after tolerating many years without air conditioning, the church installed a new HVAC system in an effort to make the space more comfortable for the large congregation. It turned to our Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology.

Gianfranco Isaia, the church’s facilities and construction manager, said the church was able to bear the winter weather with boilers in the basement, but when it came to the humid summers in Illinois, St. Patrick’s didn’t have air conditioning to create a comfortable environment.

Isaia contacted John Domenz, vice president, North Town Mechanical Services, Roselle, Illinois. Domenz recommended our VRF because of its minimal piping, small equipment footprint and superior performance. He said, “We could install Mitsubishi Electric units in the space without damaging the building’s architecture. We’ve used Mitsubishi Electric products on several other projects in the past, and we’re always sold on the reliability of the systems.”

Upon Isaia’s agreement, installation began. Since completion, the experience has been very positive for St. Patrick’s. Isaia said, “When we unveiled the renovation, including the new [HVAC] units, over 150 people turned out. I had plenty of people come up to me and say how comfortable it was in the church. Since, I have not heard one person say they are a nuisance or obtrusive. And the units are cooling down the building in several minutes during the hot days. The temperature will drop by 10 degrees in less than 4 minutes.”

To read more about St. Patrick’s experience with VRF, check out the case study here.


Don’t miss Chicago area’s GreenBuilt Home Tour

Do you call the Chicago metropolitan area home? If so, check out the 2017 GreenBuilt Home Tour, July 22 – 23! You’ll have a chance to visit 11 different homes in the northern Illinois area, including four with our systems playing a key role. All homes on the tour are third-party verified by programs such as ENERGY STAR® for Homes, LEED® for Homes, DOE Zero Energy Ready Home, GreenStar and Passivhaus Institut – EnerPHit. We’re excited and honored to be a sponsor of the fifth annual tour. Learn more and buy tickets here.

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April 19, 2017, 9:00 am

The Green Retrofit Takeover

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It’s no secret that we’ve seen an increased demand for commercial buildings that are environmentally conscious and able to conserve energy. Building owners and managers have quickly learned that going green can attract more, higher-paying tenants. A majority of this demand is being met by high-performance buildings, but there are not enough new construction projects to satisfy the market. To fully meet these demands, the industry has turned to green retrofits.

The green retrofitting trend is good news for the industry. The National Institute of Building Sciences recently found that retrofitting an existing building can oftentimes be more cost effective than building a new green facility. There’s also been talk about the long-term benefits of green retrofitting. According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), “Owners of green buildings reported that their return on investment improved by 19.2% on average for existing building green projects” compared to just “9.9% on average for new projects.” Other benefits include reduced operating costs and environmental impact, and an increased market value. Green retrofitted buildings also tend to have a longer lifespan and contribute to a comfortable environment for tenants – especially since tenants now want features such as rooftop gardens and use of recycled material for interior finishes and furnishings.

Green retrofitting can also play an important role in facilities where the occupant experience is paramount. These renovated buildings feature improved indoor air quality and upgraded accessibility and security. The USGBC reported the following about how retrofitting can improve tenant health: “Building retrofits which improved the indoor environment of a building resulted in reductions of: communicable respiratory diseases of 9-20%; allergies and asthma of 18-25%; and non-specific health and discomfort effects of 20-50%.”

It’s an exciting time to become involved in green retrofit projects. From now until 2023, the USGBC predicts that commercial building owners and managers will invest an estimated $960 billion globally on green retrofitting. At Mitsubishi Electric, we have welcomed green retrofitting with open arms and our products are a strong fit for this application. For example, our efficient Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology helped Stack House Apartments renovate their facility to be a showcase of sustainability. And, like Stack House Apartments, we look forward to a greener future.

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February 7, 2017, 9:00 am

Project Profile: R.J. Reynolds Building

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Photos provided by Comfort Supply, Inc.

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.

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December 1, 2016, 9:00 am

Project Profile: David Whitney Building

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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.

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September 8, 2016, 9:00 am

Project Profile: Sacramento Drill Tower

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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.

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June 20, 2016, 9:00 am

How Can More People Use Less Energy?

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Ensuring that everyone has a comfortable place to live is always a concern for municipal housing authorities, but as rental space is increasingly scarce and homeownership less frequent, increased low-income housing developments are a mainstay.  ProudGreenHome.com recently highlighted a low-income retrofit in Washington, D.C. – an area desperately in need of financially viable housing solutions. The challenge of low-income retrofits like these is designing high-capacity housing units with low energy consumption.

Specifically with low-income housing – which is primed for retrofit applications and caters to a variety of families and their needs – the challenge is two-fold. First: How do you conserve energy usage while trying to build larger facilities to house more people, inevitably requiring more energy consumption? Secondly: How do you provide quality, comfortable housing without being cost-prohibitive?

You may be involved in a large public works project. If so, keep in mind that our systems offer a compelling solution for energy efficiency. The ability to target specific zones and varying energy needs make our systems an appealing option for this type of retrofit since they help many families meet many needs. For example, the J.L. Young Apartments run by the Tampa Housing Authority, Tampa, Florida used our split-ductless solutions to reduce its yearly HVAC consumption by 1,149,980 kWh, equating to a yearly expenditure reduction of $97,207.

Projects like these illustrate just how effectively our systems can reduce energy waste and ensure that, regardless of how much energy is used, it is only energy that is needed.

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June 6, 2016, 9:00 am

Project Profile: Dodge City Schools

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“I can hear my teacher now.” That was one student’s reaction in Dodge City, Kansas, after the school district began renovating each of its 10 schools’ HVAC systems. When it paired our Water-source Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) with geothermal technology in two of its buildings, that same wonderful thing happened – suddenly, students could hear their teachers. Additionally, the district saw reduced utility bills, green certification and satisfied teachers.

Each summer now, the district focuses efforts on one renovation. Our water-source VRF technology entered the scene during the second summer as part of improving conditions in the 35,000-square-foot Central Elementary School (Central) – a two-story brick facility built in 1927. Water-source VRF paired with geothermal technology replaced outdated, inefficient HVAC systems. VRF brought efficiency, true zoning and excellent control to that pairing.

The following summer, Wilroads Elementary School (Wilroads) – a 19,000-square-foot building from the 1950s – was renovated by pairing our water-source VRF systems with geothermal technology. Drew Rose, electrical engineer, Integrated Consulting Engineers, Inc., Wichita, Kansas, has served as the project manager and designer for the ongoing Dodge City Schools projects. Rose said of the Wilroads installation that “everyone’s been satisfied since, and the teachers were really excited to get something that works without being loud.”

Both Central and Wilroads also earned ENERGY STAR® certification; Central even got a score of 91! “When you think about how it was built in 1927, well, we think that’s pretty impressive,” said William Hammond, the district’s executive director of business operations.

The Dodge City Unified School District’s energy manager, Morris Reeves, spoke of the decision to use VRF: “We work every day to conserve energy. Energy conserved is more money for the classroom – that’s what we’re all about.” Hammond added: “I like being green to save energy and resources, and being green to save money. I try to find projects that do both.” By pairing our water-source VRF systems with geothermal technology, the school district was able to do both. This pairing even earned the district a claim of $215,000 in grants and rebates. And now, nearly 7,000 students can hear their teachers.

To read more about Dodge City Schools, check out the case study.

August 19, 2015, 4:13 pm

Project Profile: Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive

Tamarijn Aruba All Inclusive (Tamarijn Aruba), the astonishing 135,000-square-foot, all inclusive resort attracts vacationers from around the world. With 236 beachfront guestrooms and an impressive average occupancy rate of 80 percent, the resort still found itself flooded with customer complaints. Malfunctioning HVAC systems, poor air quality and moisture were the top criticisms from patrons. Not to mention, the resort was suffering from Aruba’s high energy costs. Tamarijn Aruba knew it needed to improve guest experience and lower energy consumption. The best solution was an HVAC overhaul.

Our Variable Refrigerant Flow system replaced the old system in 12 2,800-square-foot guest buildings. Paying for itself in just three years with its energy savings, the system turned a flood of customer complaints into a stream of compliments.

“The product has exceeded all expectations. Hotel guests are happy about the comfort and the hotel itself is happy since there are so few issues with the equipment,” said Henk Swart, Tamarijn Aruba’s chief engineer.

The system has also brought the resort positive attention from programs like Earth Check, which promote and reward sustainable tourism and research.

Learn more about this project.

August 6, 2015, 4:31 pm

Project Profile: Mamaroneck Passive House

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A 3,000-square-foot dilapidated house from the 60s stood vacant in Mamaroneck, New York for years. It had a leaky roof, faulty gutters, mold, humidity damage, bad ventilation, termites – even squirrels in the attic. That is until homeowner Veronique Leblanc came along.

Veronique purchased the house because of the location that offered views of the Mamaroneck Harbor and proximity to the downtown village and country club. She knew she had a lot of work to do. An inefficient envelope and outdated equipment resulted in energy costs averaging $10,000 a year, and the home wasn’t even comfortable to live in.

Veronique planned to retrofit the house with a driving goal of saving energy: “For me, the best energy is the one you don’t use.” She attended a New York Passive House event where she met architect Andreas Benzing. Andreas shared her vision, and the two set out to create the Mamaroneck Passive House.

Under Andreas’ guidance, Veronique chose our ductless cooling and heating system. It delivers the extreme efficiency needed to meet Passive House standards; offers complete control over energy usage and savings; and affords personalized, year-round comfort for the family.

The cherry on top: a 70 percent reduction in energy consumption and the Urban Green Council’s Power to the People Award.

December 11, 2014, 4:17 pm

Project Profile: La Grange Park Home



John Birmingham and Audrey Bromberger’s 5-bedroom, 3,600-square-foot farm style home was in need of an upgrade. The home was built in 1910 and lacked air conditioning. The owners wanted to update the cooling and heating system without sacrificing any of the valuable living space. The challenge was to find an energy-efficient HVAC system that offers zone control and immediate comfort while preserving as much space as possible.

The homeowners first noticed ductless systems when they were vacationing in Europe. “The only other option was to drop ceilings and put in ductwork, which we didn’t want to do because then you’d lose part of the charm of the house,” Audrey said. After contacting Greg Sutor, HVAC contractor, Sutor Heating & Cooling Inc., it was obvious that our ductless system was really the only viable option. “All other systems would have required significant remodeling and structural alterations,” Sutor said.

The team installed two outdoor units, one on each side of the home. The installation ended ahead of schedule, taking just three days to complete. Our ductless system provides conditioned air right at startup, quiet operation and individual room conditioning, which was a large selling point for Aubrey. “The ability to individually control the rooms is not only very energy efficient but very convenient.”

To read the entire case study, click here.

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