North End Apartments
Project Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Completion Date: February 2016
Selecting a space-saving, energy-efficient system to keep a multifamily building comfortable during harsh winters
Zoned Comfort Solutions® from Mitsubishi Electric
An easy design and installation for the builder; year-round comfort and reliability for the tenants
Although long winters are nothing foreign to New Englanders, the extreme cold that brought record-setting snowfall in 2015 got builders thinking about planning more deliberately for severe weather. In Boston’s North End, these concerns – and an increasing millennial population – have resulted in a variety of historic or aging buildings demanding modern comforts while maintaining a colonial charm. Such was the case with the North End Apartments, where an old, closed-off apartment building was updated to be upscale and energy-efficient. This balance was achieved with a Hyper-Heating INVERTER® (H2i®) system from Mitsubishi Electric.
In a building covering 7,000 square feet over four floors, Matt Donaghey – builder and managing director at Cricket Realty Holdings, LLC, Waltham, Massachusetts – knew he needed a flexible system to meet the multiple challenges of the tight quarters of this historic area, as well as the increasingly harsh weather. For Donaghey, adjusting for the weather meant finding a system that was low-maintenance and high-efficiency so he could be confident it would be ready to go when needed, but would use minimal energy when it wasn’t. “We needed something that would be high-efficiency. Usually, the cold isn’t something we need to consider all that often – most systems can handle our weather – but last year that really changed. Now we need something that can be highly efficient, especially in really cold weather.”
For Donaghey, there was never a question that a Hyper-Heating system from Mitsubishi Electric was the best solution. “My family knew a lot about Mitsubishi Electric products going into the installation, but also, for the space, we knew that this system was the only realistic option.”
A compact zoning system worked well for a space so tightly pressed against surrounding buildings. Speaking about indoor units, Donaghey said, “We could have looked into a system with ductwork, but then we would have had to account for that and it makes installation a lot more complicated.” The compact size of Mitsubishi Electric’s outdoor units also offered Donaghey’s team some flexibility: “One option was to stick them in the alleyway, but I liked being able to put them on the roof – made them easier to access in the snow.”
Accounting for snow was especially important because heavy snowfall can impact not only an HVAC system’s accessibility, but also its performance. “When you have continuous days of sub-zero weather, you have to have the confidence that the system can continue to work. We didn’t want to have to constantly be monitoring in the cold; we wanted to get something that we knew would stand up against the cold and continue to be energy-efficient.” The Mitsubishi Electric Hyper-Heating system, with its ability to provide reliable warmth well into negative temperatures, was the obvious choice.
“The installation was pretty simple and went quickly. My guys did a great job getting up on the roof and then easily dropped the lines down two walls on either side of the building. It was a straight shot down from the roof to the bedrooms,” said Donaghey.
Donaghey also manages the property post-installation, so while he was excited by how easy the zoning systems were to install, he was most excited about the benefit they will provide to his tenants, both in comfort and convenience. “We had considered an electrical grid board, but we wanted to offer central air as well and wouldn’t have been able to. Now we can promote that the building comes equipped with central air.” This convenience is not only a selling point in a city where air conditioning is a rarity, but also dispels the worry of tenants having to find and safely install window units, and ultimately saves on energy costs in their absence.
From a comfort standpoint, these systems lend the tenants a sense of control, and the apartments an air of luxury. “Each unit comes with its own control, so you can just be sitting around the living room and if you want to change the thermostat, you pick up the remote and change it. In all honesty, these systems are so efficient it only takes one unit to heat an entire apartment, but we put units in each bedroom [in addition to one unit in the living room] so that way, if one person likes their room a little warmer and another likes it cold, they can personalize that space.”
As far as being efficient, the Hyper-Heating system surpassed expectations by leaps and bounds. “These units are just so much more space- and energy-efficient than a furnace or boiler. I’m pretty sure the boiler we pulled out had to be from the 1960s, and it went full-blast. People would always have to open their windows in the winter just to keep the rooms comfortable, and the energy bills must have been huge. It isn’t even fair to try and compare the old system with this new one.”
- Investment Group: Cricket Realty Holdings, LLC, Waltham, Massachusetts
- General Contractor: Stallion Builders, LLC, Boston, Massachusetts
Mitsubishi Electric Equipment Installed
- (8) MXZ M-Series Outdoor Units
- (20) MSZ Wall-mounted Indoor Units