Top Job Finalists 2015

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The Top Job Competition has been an integral part of the NY-GEO annual conference since its inception in 2015. Its objective is to highlight and recognize the incredible skill, talent, and creative imagination that exists in geothermal system designers and installers.

A strong group of applicants showcase exceptional geothermal heating and cooling projects. They range from new construction, including affordable housing, to retrofitting existing homes with special requirements, historic or landmarked buildings, structures in dense urban environments, a municipal building, low-income housing, mixed-use buildings, a school and college dorms. These projects will dazzle and delight you in the breadth and depth of the applicability of geothermal heat pump technology in New York State.

Another vital objective is to communicate to those outside the industry and to policymakers the variety of ways this technology can be applied, especially in situations where daunting challenges seem impossible to overcome and yet they are.

Each of the finalists receive free access to the NY-GEO conference and the winning finalist receives a $500 cash prize.

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Here are the Top Job Finalists for 2015


Hunt Country Vineyards

2015 Top Job winner
Winner: Hunt Country Vineyards – Moravec & Daily


The 2015 Top Job winner is Hunt Country Vineyards. Hunt Country's focus is on sustainability, so it wanted a system designed for energy reduction and cost savings using geothermal heating to replace propane and oil heating.

The 20-ton geothermal system that was installed provides 100% of heating, cooling and hot water using a total of 6 heat pumps with 3 heat pump banks. Piping is between four buildings scattered over an acre of land.

Two 4-ton GeoStar water-to-water heat pumps with Wilo VFD Pumps serves the tasting buildings, which have radiant heat and MultiAqua air handlers for cooling and supplemental heating. Another two 4-Ton GeoStar water-to-water heat pumps distribute to 2 air handlers in two different buildings (storage and bottling) and also provide domestic hot water for cleaning. The final two 4-Ton GeoStar water-to-water heat pumps serve radiant slab heating, an air handler and domestic hot water in the production facility.

One common vertical closed loop of 8 400-ft deep wells using 1.25-inch HDPE (high density polyethylene) has a 20-21-ton capacity that serves multiple buildings. (The extra tonnage is there for future use.) The loopfield serves a single GV Flow Center that serves 3 "nodes" with each "node" being served by 6-8-ton water to water heat pumps.

A NYSERDA grant provided 75% of total project cost. The savings in the first year of use was over $12,000 in propane, fuel oil and electricity and there was increased comfort in summer and winter for all facilities. A solar PV system of 100-kW will be installed to offset 80% of the properties' electric usage.

Here is the Hunt Country Vineyards presentation and here is more information about Hunt Country Vineyards.


650 James Street

650 James Street - Diversified Energy System Installations

650 James Street LLC, an innovative, technology-based company, is housed in a three-story brick and concrete building in the city of Syracuse. The 30,000-sq ft building was constructed in 1954 and underwent a natural gas to geothermal conversion.

There were three objectives: changing the heating from natural gas to geothermal, converting the cooling from chiller and cooling towers to geothermal, and removing the waste heat from the hundreds of computer servers used for business operation. That stored would be used to heat domestic hot water.

Four 5-ton water-to-air geothermal units replaced the split air-conditioning units to maintain the server area at 54°F on the cool side and 69-70°F on the hot side.

The 1980 chiller unit and cooling tower were replaced with water-to-water geothermal units to cool the building. The vertical loop field consisted of 20 boreholes drilled under the parking lot as the heat source for the heat pumps, while keeping disruption to daily business at a minimum.

The building's occupants report a greater comfort level during the summer cooling season.

The owners are happy with the reduction of fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, the decrease in the gas utility cost, the efficiency of recycling the waste heat from the electronic equipment to heat water, not the Earth, and an increasing independence from public utilities.

Here is the 650 James Street presentation.


Rose Cottage

Rose Cottage - Building Tech Services

Located in Concord NH, Rose Cottage is a 3,400-sq ft lakefront home with a good building shell with air-sealed construction. This is a home with no compromises in aesthetics or luxury.

A 4-ton hybrid of solar thermal and geoexchange is a "near-net-zero" HVAC solution, which conditions the space and provides domestic hot water and hot water for heating. Adding photovoltaic panels makes this true net zero energy home as the low kWh usage of the utilities allows the home to use ample electricity for a high-tech modern lifestyle, without struggling to be "net zero."

A 2-ton water-to-water heat pump was installed for the radiant floor heating and 2-ton water-to-air heat pump provided cooling and additional heating. Wilo ECM circulators require fewer pumps and use less electricity.

There are two horizontal loop fields. One bed, outside the building footprint, uses 30 150-ft long enhanced thermal conductivity GeoPerformX 0.75-inch slinky pipe for a total of 4500 feet. The other bed is under the basement slab. It is a horizontal exchange variable flow conductivity GeoPerformX 0.75-inch slinky pipe. A layer of PEX tubing to store solar thermal heat is in the same area. This tubing keeps the bed warm in winter when heat is being extracted from the ground.

In spring and fall when heat loads are small and solar gain is high, the thermal solar panels provide nearly all of the space and hot water needs of the home. In winter, the heat pumps provide the space and hot water needs. The thermal solar panels used at low source water temperatures collect energy to keep the source energy beds between 45°F and 55°F to significantly reduce the amp draw from the heat pumps.

In summer, the heat pumps cool the space using the bed outside of the footprint and excess thermal solar heat is stored in the under slab bed. The under slab bed reaches about 80°F at it peak. So in the beginning of the heating season the heat pumps are operating with a COP of about 5 and it only drops to about 4.4 during the peak winter heating demand.

This hybrid design with COPs of 4.4 to 5.0, reduces the operating kWh by about half, making net zero attainable. A whole house dual core energy recovery ventilation provides ample free air in this tight house.

A 13.4 KW grid tied PV system harvests electrical energy to provide all the electric needs of the home. For the past two years the home has produced slightly more net energy than it uses.

Here is the Rose Cottage presentation.


Syracuse Pike Block Project

Syracuse Pike Block Project - IPD Engineering

The Pike Block Project is a 150,000-sq ft mixed-use urban redevelopment project consisting of 4 historic downtown buildings comprised of office space, retail space and luxury apartments.

The heating and cooling system was a combination of a Daikin VRV air source heating and cooling system for the residences and a central open loop geothermal system loop utilizing the brine aquifer beneath Syracuse to heat and cool the commercial spaces. Only the heat is removed from the brine and then it is returned to the aquifer.

Three 90-foot wells (one extraction well with a submersible pump and two rejection wells) were drilled with an estimate yield of 73 tons of capacity. A pair of redundant titanium plate heat exchangers were the interface between indoor extended range water-to-air heat pumps and the brine. PVC piping and valves with CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) strainers were utilized to avoid corrosion from the brine, which is three‐times the salinity of the ocean. The system runs on one of the two heat exchangers and requires the pump to operate at half speed.

In total, the system was designed to service 35,000 sq ft of the building. Upon system startup the system was connected to very few loads but seemed to run like a champ. Several months later, after more loads were added, the system began losing its ability to transfer heat.

The cause was bacteria that had plugged both heat exchangers, rendering the system unusable. For a time, the heat pumps used city water in a pump and dump manner. Fortunately, the driller and a chemical expert got rid of the bacteria with a vinegar bath and followed it up with a very slow hydrogen peroxide drip to maintain the system.

The installation cost of this system versus a tower/boiler is $24,000 more and the operating costs have yet to be determined.

This project has received a number of honors including the AIA CNY Design Award, Downtown Committee of Syracuse Award of Excellence, 2014 Paul Malo Award and State Historic Preservation Office: Preservation Award 2015.

This system won the Best Mechanical System Award at the CRBRA Best in Building Awards in November of 2018!

Here is the Syracuse Pike Block Project presentation and the case study.


Lockwood Project

Lockwood Project – Geotherm Inc.

This new construction project has an indoor pool located below the main home and adjacent to the finished basement.

This was an opportunity to design a unique system with the ability to perform several heat transfer tasks at the same time. The pool is in the basement and the challenge is in mitigating humidity levels while simultaneously providing pool heating and space conditioning.

Heating/cooling requirements of the main home were taken care of with a Hydron HXT-048 water-to-air heat pump that provides 100% heating and cooling to the home. A desuperheater combined with a Navien combination tankless hot water heater together provides domestic hot water. A Hydron Module water-to-water heat pump provides space conditioning, humidity control and pool heating to the basement.

One shared ground loop was utilized by both heat pumps.

The distribution system was designed with three-way solenoid valves that allowed for the separation of a titanium pool heat exchanger and a hydronic fan coil for space conditioning/humidity control. What was different is the use of a secondary heat exchanger and direct flow of the ground loop to the unique de-humidification coil. This more advanced solution provided maximum efficiency and reduced wear on the equipment. Custom controls were created working with Phoenix Energy Supply to measure the many variables and prioritize tasks for a seamless operation without unnecessary user input ("“set it and forget it" ease of use).

This allowed for pool or space heating to occur with the heat removed from the ground loop to simultaneously provide humidity reduction to the pool air, closing the heat transfer loop and recycling energy directly.

Here is the Lockwood Project presentation.


Dr. Greg Project

Dr. Greg Project - Buffalo Geothermal

Dr. Greg asked the installer to build the best geothermal system for ultimate comfort and ultra-efficiency that money could buy, without any compromises.

The house was 4000 sq ft. The project involved adding another 6000 sq ft for a total of 10,000 sq ft of heating and cooling. The loop field consists of 27 horizontal loops are using 600-ft slinkies each.

The 22-ton geothermal system consisted of a WaterFurnace 10-ton dual compressor, water-to-water heat pump for radiant heating, a 7-ton WaterFurnace high temperature heat pump prioritized for domestic hot water, chilled water for cooling, and supplemental heat on the coldest days and a 5-ton Bosch SM water-to-air unit for the greenhouse.

There are 15 heating zones and 7 cooling zones which required a variable speed, non-pressurized flow center designed for use in multiple heat pump geothermal applications.

For heating, the system was designed for a 90°F supply temperature to the radiant floors. In addition, radiant heat is in the shower floor and walls, in the bathtub railings, and in the granite countertops. The pipes were embedded in heavy gauge aluminum on top of a Rehau Raupanels subfloor to conduct the heat most efficiently. That way the system runs efficiently, with the lowest supply temperature possible (around 90°F) so as not damage the hardwood floors.

A monitoring and full system remote control using a Conexus Control system and wall-mounted temperature sensors was installed. This web-based system can remotely control every input variable and designate an output using an iPhone or iPad.

Here is the Dr. Greg Project presentation.