Project Profile

Project Profile: Walnut Hill Community Church

Outside of Walnut Hill Community Church

Clay Norman has been a member of Bethel, Connecticut’s Walnut Hill Community Church since 1985. Serving as both an Elder and as the Director of Facilities, Norman has seen many church renovations over the years and knew that in 2017, the building’s HVAC system needed to be replaced. With over 1,000 Sunday service attendees and many church activities throughout the week, energy efficiency for the sake of cost savings was critical. After consulting with an HVAC distributor and contractor, the selection was clear: Mitsubishi Electric’s CITY MULTI® Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology.

The Right System for the Job

In 2002, the church installed a chiller system when they added their sanctuary space. Fast forward 16 years and the system was working at only 30 percent efficiency. Completely removing the chiller system and the church’s four, 32-ton ducted air handlers would have been a hassle and expensive. Upon review, Jim Messenger, service manager, Eastern Mechanical Services, Inc., knew VRF was the right system for the job.

“When the church initially brought me in to replace the chiller, I immediately told them about Mitsubishi Electric’s CITY MULTI system,” said Messenger. “Together, myself, Matt Berry from Mitsubishi Electric and Taylor Cannavaro from Homans Associates sat down and came up with a design-build for the church.”

Faced with large equipment and the need to keep things cost-effective, the three came up with an innovative strategy for the HVAC design: give a unitary system VRF capabilities.

Unique Innovation

“We decided to utilize Mitsubishi Electric’s LEV kits in a unique way. They were retrofitted and sized to fit the current air handlers,” explained Messenger. “This allowed us to use the unitary products and existing electrical to get the variable efficiency of VRF. It even allowed all the third-party equipment to communicate with the AE-200 Centralized Controller.” Mitsubishi Electric’s LEV (linear expansion valve) kits allow CITY MULTI outdoor units to connect to air handlers produced by other manufacturers.

The team also added Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to all the air handler motors. “Instead of the motors running constantly like they previously did, we can now soft start them and have the capability to slow down the fan speed to meet the comfort settings of the church,” said Messenger. “The motors are now running at two-thirds of their capacity.”

In addition, the application includes 11 Mitsubishi Electric ceiling cassettes and one wall-mounted unit to ensure optimal comfort. The projected cost savings mean the project will deliver a relatively quick return on investment.

“Conservatively, the cost savings for this church are projected to be about $50,000 per year,” said  Messenger. “Anytime you talk with a customer about having a five-year return on investment – which we got with this project – they’re going to listen.”

To read the full Case Study, visit