Sfuzzi Uptown wasn’t always one of the hottest spots to dine in Dallas. After humble beginnings as a funeral home from 1928 to 1952, the building at 2533 McKinney Avenue has transformed into an upscale restaurant. The name of this faux Italian restaurant, Sfuzzi, means “having fun while you dine” according to co-owner Robert Colombo.
When Colombo’s firm purchased the 3,000-square-foot single-story funeral home in 2010, the first thing he did was gut the interior. As a graduate of the hotel school at Cornell University and former manager of The Plaza and Grand Hyatt in New York City, Colombo had grand plans for the interior of his new restaurant.
A new AC installation was not originally in the plans for Colombo’s new restaurant, but he hit a snag. The problem was that the 1,000-square-foot bar area – the heart of the restaurant – was sitting in dead, uncirculated air. “The stagnant air around the bar was dreadful,” Colombo said. “My guests were uncomfortable, which eventually hurt my business. I called in several HVAC contractors to help me solve this problem, but I knew the ac repairs and indoor comfort products they offered were either way too expensive or would not work.”
Because of the building’s age, the only space for air ducts was in the exterior walls. Installing a conventional heating and air conditioning system throughout the building was out of the question. In search of the perfect solution, Colombo went online. He found Mitsubishi Electric Cooling and Heating’s ductless air conditioning systems. Colombo turned to his local Mitsubishi Electric contractor, Jack Schmidt of Benchmark HVAC, Inc., for his building’s new ductless AC installation.
Conversations between Schmidt and Colombo and an inspection of Sfuzzi’s space made it clear that the Mitsubishi Electric ductless air conditioning system was the only heating and AC unit in the industry capable of overcoming the building’s space limitations. The installation of two suitcase-sized rooftop outdoor units and two nine-inch indoor units, the most compact in the industry, Colombo’s indoor air quality problems were almost solved.
By January 2011, Sfuzzi had a new ductless system seamlessly incorporated into Colombo’s interior design, almost. “The line sets penetrated the roof membrane perfectly between the old joists,” Schmidt said, “and the indoor units slid nicely up into the roof.” Finding a suitable place for the wall thermostats, though, was another story. The existing walls lacked space for the necessary wiring, so Benchmark technicians used a Mitsubishi Electric remote controller kit to operate the system.
Mitsubishi Electric Cooling and Heating was the first in the HVAC industry to incorporate Honeywell’s RedLINK™ wireless technology into its products. The MHK1 controller chosen for Sfuzzi operates over radio frequency instead of through infrared waves or electrical wires. This eliminated the need for electrical wires and enabled the thermostats to be placed in different rooms, away from the indoor units, and controlled from anywhere in the restaurant. For Colombo, choosing a Mitsubishi Electric ductless air conditioner was a homerun.
Turner Construction Company in Columbus, Ohio, one of the largest general builders in the United States, has constructed some of the most notable buildings in Central Ohio including the Nationwide Arena, Greater Columbus Convention Center, The Ohio State University Stadium renovation, the new patient tower of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Hilton Columbus Downtown. After 14 years working out of Worthington, the company decided to move its offices downtown. We wanted a headquarters presence close to our many Columbus clients, said Kurt Smith, Turner’s regional pre-construction manager.
Turner partnered with M+A Architects to find and revamp a 30,000-square-foot historic mattress factory located just south of previous Turner projects – Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers (Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) and Nationwide Arena, home to the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.
HVAC Contractors to Design for an Open-Concept Warehouse Space
Turner wanted to retain the integrity of original factory, which was built in 1910. The interior would be kept open to show off the layered brick walls and sturdy columns and trusses cut from oaks in the 19th century. High, exposed ceilings meant that the lighting circuit, HVAC line sets, and indoor fan coils would all be visible. Refinished timber floors were also part of the design for Turner’s new offices, but clunky metal ductwork was not.
Heating and Air Conditioning Service for a Century-old Building
For this major restoration, Turner wanted the U.S. Building Council’s LEED® certification. In our planning and design work, they asked us to aim for LEED Silver as a minimum, said M+A Associate Ryan Ware. This meant choosing an energy efficient HVAC system.
Turner hired Dynamix Engineering Ltd. to select the right system for the office space’s new heating and AC installation carefully. Dynamix contractor Frank Hartley propose the following options:
- A Variable Air Volume (VAV) system with hot water reheat
- A VAV system with electrical reheat
- Water-source heat pumps
- Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning systems
After rating the benefits of each system, Turner selected a Mitsubishi Electric Variable Refrigerant Flow zoning system.
Why Variable Refrigerant Flow Systems Work for Adaptive Reuse
Variable Refrigerant Flow technology and equipment design is a perfect match for buildings constructed before air conditioning was invented. Thanks to the ductless nature of VRF zoning systems, Turner ended up with a system that would avoid the huge energy loss generally associated with central air conditioners. Up to 30 percent of the energy in ducted heating and cooling systems is lost through leaks and other inefficiencies within the actual air ducts. The compact compressors and components of a ductless zoning system can be installed in smaller spaces and require less piping. For Turner, this meant keeping the high, exposed ceilings of his new building unobstructed.
Hartley said that the Variable Refrigerant Flow zoning system was exactly the system needed to meet Turner’s design expectations and green building goals. In this old factory, there was no option for the typical mechanical room, and with this Mitsubishi Electric ductless system there was no need for it, explained Hartley. The ingenious central controller, about the size of a large suitcase, can be conveniently tucked away in a small closet. The outdoor units are small and lightweight, and are easily positioned on the roof.
Turner managers were especially impressed with the sound attenuation of the interior units and the connecting piping and wiring, Hartley continued. They were surprised that someone could stand a few feet beneath an indoor unit and not hear it operating.
Ductless Air Conditioning: An Energy Efficient Choice for Green Buildings
The selection of this Mitsubishi Electric zoning system made me a believer, said Turner Mechanical Estimator Scott Blair. At Turner, we are recognized for our pioneering work in the green building movement. The thing that makes me happy is we proved that it is possible to bring century-old spaces up to 21st-century standards. This state-of-the-art VRF technology is ideal for an office environment and has enabled us to pursue LEED Gold.
EarthCraft Platinum House and Mitsubishi Ductless HVAC System: A Perfect Match
The Search for an Efficient HVAC System That Met Family Sustainability Goals and While Keeping Them Cool
Los Angeles natives Lisa and George Vail had dreams of a modern, eco-friendly home when they moved their family to Atlanta – so eco-friendly that even the home heating and air conditioning system would be energy efficient. No strangers to renovation projects, the couple shared a vision for their home that, in 2011, came to fruition as a contemporary ENERGY STAR® and EarthCraft Platinum-certified home.
When we were new to Atlanta, one of our favorite pastimes was to drive around neighborhoods looking for land, said Lisa Vail, a realtor specializing in green homes and a partner in the green building supply company Via Viridis, Woodstock, Ga. Even though we had chosen yet another fixer-upper and were in the throes of a major renovation, we never stopped fantasizing about building.
Energy Stats for an Efficient HVAC System
- The Vail’s utility bills were 43 percent less than the average Georgia home; $75 per month vs. the statewide average of $131 per month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
- The Vail house saves $673 per year on their energy bills, thanks to an energy efficient ductless air conditioning system.
Planning the Dream House with Energy Efficient Heating and Cooling Units
After finding the perfect plot of land, George and Lisa enlisted the help of architect Jordan Williams, partner of the Atlanta firm Plexus r+d, to design a sustainable modern home. George and Lisa are some of the best-prepared and highly motivated homeowners I’ve ever met, said Williams. They knew exactly what they wanted, including all the green-building features that would provide maximum energy savings. A portion of their energy savings would come from a modern, energy efficient ductless air conditioning system.
After reviewing the guidelines for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® certification, Williams and the Vails decided the same goals could be achieved by choosing an affordable home comfort option like a ductless air conditioning and heat pump system. Our design strategy became the challenge of fulfilling the Vail’s dream by doing as much as we could afford to make the house as passive as possible, Williams said.
A Mitsubishi Electric Ductless System Provided the Perfect Combination of Comfort, Healthy Indoor Air and Efficiency.
Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems: a Harmonious Balance with EarthCraft Principles
Building a new house offered various HVAC options, said homeowner George Vail, an IT Director with a GIS/mapping firm. But having lived in homes with forced, central heating and air conditioning systems, Lisa and I knew that we didn’t want to deal with poor indoor air quality from dirty ducts and the suffocating hot, dry air provided by a natural gas heater. After extensive research and abiding by EarthCraft, LEED and Passive House program principals, the Vails decided against a traditional HVAC system for their new, sustainable home.
Instead, the couple chose a ductless air conditioning system from a local Mitsubishi Electric Cooling and Heating contractor. We found that the ductless air conditioning systems provide the perfect balance of energy efficiency, comfort, ductless health benefits, and technology that we were looking for — all at a comparable price of a typical HVAC system, explained George.
The Vail family home was designed with an open floor plan and several large windows facing the property’s pristine forest and creek. In addition to the efficient Mitsubishi Electric ductless system, the couple included other energy-saving features such as:
- 6-inch walls with R-60 blown foam insulation (R-70 in the roof)
- high-efficiency tankless water heater
- energy recovery ventilator (ERV)
- ENERGY STAR advanced lighting system
- water collection system for irrigation and landscaping
- photovoltaic array on the flat roof membrane for power
Why Go Ductless? No Need for Mechanical Room, Ductwork or Alternative Heat Source
Local Mitsubishi Electric contractor ductless system was installed by Pat Hayes, president of Air Conditioning Specialist, Inc. There’s a lot to admire about this technology, Hayes said. I especially like its extremely low energy consumption and highly versatile zoning capability, plus its ability to heat the house down to a very low temperature without needing alternative sources for heating. Air Conditioning Specialist, Inc., a Mitsubishi Diamond Contractor, had experience with hundreds of Mitsubishi Electric heat pump and AC installations.
Homeowner Enjoys Showing off Interior Wall-mounted Units
George likes the multi-zone personalization for each bedroom and the living/dining area and remote control capabilities of his new ductless system. It has allowed us to obtain independent temperature control in the five zones needed in our house, instead of the typical two zones for a multi-story house. The remote controller makes it easy to create slight temperature adjustments from the couch or when I’m in bed.
The Mitsubishi Electric ductless system is so smart that it is activated independently as the Vail house temperatures change throughout the day. The outdoor unit uses an INVERTER-driven compressor that is capable of speed variance and only uses the exact amount of energy necessary to reach the temperature set for temperature each zone.
As a technologist in an engineering field, I love the sleek look and enjoy showing off the noiseless indoor units to visitors, said George. They are so quiet many people don’t believe they are working until I tell them to reach out and feel the light breeze. Hayes also spoke to the ductless unit’s design and functionality, saying, “[The wall-mounted indoor units] are kind of like those flat TV screens you see on the walls of every home today. After a few days you don’t even notice they are there, especially because these units don’t make any noise.
The Vail family expressed that they couldn’t be happier with the unobtrusive design, silent operation, and energy savings they got with their Mitsubishi Electric ductless heating and cooling unit.