Project Location: Brooklyn, New York
Completion Date: August 2014
Finding an HVAC system to provide year-round comfort and energy savings to 150+ condo units
Mitsubishi Electric VRF
Superior zoning, extra square footage and satisfied residents
The Domsey Project represents a new era of HVAC in Brooklyn, New York. The first big development in the Williamsburg area, this 280,000-square-foot condo development houses 159 families across eight buildings. It’s high-end and high-efficiency, attracting a lot of attention. Its success is due in part to Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) systems from Mitsubishi Electric which have offered true zoning and comfort control to the development’s many families.
Joel Braver, president, Express Buildings JB Inc., Brooklyn, said, “I want to give my buyers the best housing possible, but we are of course always limited by money. So for this project, I thought about finding a balance between giving the best I could and staying on budget.” When it came to HVAC, Berry Kaufman, president, Berry’s Cooling & Heating, Brooklyn, knew just the answer: VRF systems.
Berry’s Cooling & Heating, a Diamond Contractor®, “was one of the first in the area to go with VRF. This was in 2000. Everyone was laughing at me because they were afraid of the heating . . . it’s just not as common a technology in this region, so there are misconceptions. But I saw the way this technology builds efficiency and I thought it would work. I tried it on my own house, and it worked great. Then I tried it on other projects, and people were very happy. They saved a lot of money all year round,” said Kaufman.
Having built a long history of positive VRF experiences, Kaufman suggested installing S-Series systems at the Domsey Project: “The S-Series, specifically, is a great unit with a lot of mode options, a good heating load and a strong compressor.” Going with that unit also meant going with Mitsubishi Electric—a big win in Kaufman’s mind. “I’ve worked with different brands. I’m the contractor so I can see the performance. Step by step, Mitsubishi Electric performs better. It’s just a better-built unit. I get fewer callbacks.”
Braver was very pleased with Mitsubishi Electric as the brand choice, having done several Mitsubishi Electric VRF projects with Kaufman before. He said, “I once looked at other brands, but I prefer Mitsubishi Electric. I just like it. I like the look of the machines and the performance, and I like that there’s no need to have a closet for the unit because you can put everything in the ceiling. This means a bigger apartment, so it can fit a bigger family. Every closet makes a difference for people. And compared to traditional units, the ceilings are much higher with Mitsubishi Electric units because there’s not much—or any—ductwork going on.”
He continued, “Big families also have both babies and adults, so each room needs a separate temperature. Having five zones on one condenser gives five different temperatures. And in these units, one room has a balcony. We knew that room would tend to stay freezing cold. So going with the Mitsubishi Electric system meant the temperature would be comfortable across the different rooms.”
Braver also prefers Mitsubishi Electric systems for their efficiency and utility. “Let’s say somebody has only one or two people in the home —you don’t need to condition the whole place. That efficiency saves money. Plus, these systems are used for cooling and heating, so you don’t need a boiler which we would have had to run up seven floors and get a chimney and all that. Mitsubishi Electric systems don’t need exhaust. That helps with budget.”
For Kaufman, working with Mitsubishi Electric also means working with distributor ABCO HVACR Supply + Solutions, Long Island City, New York—something he appreciates. “They’ve very strongly behind me all the way on the job. They have all the parts in stock. It makes me feel more comfortable going with Mitsubishi Electric than other brands—just knowing they have the parts.”
The installation “was really good— all according to schedule, since ABCO and Mitsubishi Electric were really behind it. You don’t see a lot of brands who are so behind you,” said Kaufman. From Braver’s perspective, “the installation was just really fast. You put up the machine and that’s it, you’re done. You don’t have ductwork running all over.”
Since installation, everything has been going smoothly. Braver said, “We have no complaints. People are so happy with the Mitsubishi Electric system. It was one of my better decisions in the project.” Kaufman added, “The residents are amazed at how they can control their own zoning—their kid’s bedroom, for example.”
The project has gone so well, in fact, that it’s expanding. For Phase 2, the project team will build 175 more units—this time all rental apartments. The same S-Series VRF systems will be installed. Kaufman said, “The S-Series is a great fit for rental units, since owners don’t want to be involved in energy usage and people like having their own system so they don’t have to worry if the energy usage is correct.” Phase 2 will also feature Mitsubishi Electric’s PremiSys® Fusion Dedicated Outside Air Systems “for fresh air for corridors in the apartment building.”
Kaufman noted that the project is also such a success that “it’s the talk of the town. People were waiting to see if VRF would work out. We’ve proven that it does. Now most of the developers are doing it.”
- Developer: Express Buildings JB Inc., Brooklyn, New York
- HVAC Contractor: Berry's Cooling & Heating, Brooklyn, New York
- Distributor: ABCO HVACR Supply + Solutions, Long Island City, New York
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