In 2015, Fairway Independent Mortgage, a national mortgage lender, was ready to upgrade its headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. With exponential growth projected, the company required a building that could grow with them while maximizing energy efficiency. After an initial analysis, the project engineer, Excel Engineering, opted to design the HVAC system in unison with the architectural spaces and elements, rather than force the HVAC system into an already planned space. While a Variable Air Volume (VAV) system was originally specified, Excel had other ideas. To provide both design flexibility and efficiency, they selected Mitsubishi Electric’s Water-Source Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning systems, applied with geothermal technology.
Water-Source VRF Systems are ideal for:
“If we used a rooftop VAV system, the shafts required to move the high volumes of air throughout the building were so large that they were restricting the owner’s desired use of the space. That was one of the main drivers to switch to geothermal VRF. On the interior of the building, VRF was ideal because the ventilation shafts are minimal, the small horizontal ductwork maximizes the available ceiling height and the VRF equipment is easily hidden above ceilings. On the exterior of the building, this VRF system requires no unsightly rooftop units and screening. I always tell new clients that if we can do a geothermal VRF system, we get all those design benefits, plus energy efficiency.”
– Jonathan Brinkley, AIA, PE Senior Project Manager, Excel Engineering
“At first glance, I think many traditional office buildings or even high-performing office buildings would have done VAV (whether rooftop or indoor) for this project. The big driver of switching to VRF is that they’re getting either the same or better zoning than a VAV system and the added energy efficiency, especially with a heat-recovery system. I see a lot more projects going with water-source VRF because you are recovering energy across the entire building. Especially for high-end offices that are trying for high-performance markers like net zero, there’s really nothing out there that can beat geothermal water-source VRF with solar panels from an efficiency standpoint.”
– Matt Blocker, Regional Commercial Sales and Product Manager, Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US