Top Job Finalists 2016

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The GeoStar 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 2016


Benker Residence

2016 Top Job winner
Benker Residence - Glastonbury Housesmith & A&B Cooling & Heating Corp


The 2016 Top Job winner is the Benker Residence.This 2,755-sq ft well-insulated home in Glastonbury CT was designed to be "something that was right for the world today and the world we will leave behind for our children and for our grandchildren." Builder Glastonbury Housesmith LLC has a similar philosophy making this a great match.

The geothermal heat pump system paired with a solar PV array delivers net-zero for this home. In fact, it produces more electricity to power everything in the home than it needs, since the pole-mounted array rotates and follows the sun throughout the day. The extra energy it produces will be used to charge an electric car for approximately 12,000 miles per year.

The geothermal system for the Benker residence uses a WaterFurnace 7 Series 700A11 variable capacity geothermal heat pump with an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of 41 in cooling and a 5.3 Coefficient of Performance (COP) in heating.

It operates with the WaterFurnace IntelliZone 2 zoning system, which regulates the temperature in each of the home's three zones to provide maximum comfort and energy savings. It has a desuperheater that provides all of the domestic hot water during the summer. In the winter, the WaterFurnace unit will pre-heat water and a hybrid hot water heater will finish heating it to the required temperature.

An energy recovery ventilator exhausts humid or stale indoor air and provides conditioned fresh air to the space. They also installed a heat pump clothes dryer and an induction cooktop.

The loopfield consists of two 300-ft. vertical wells using 1.25-inch u-bends filled with a 20% glycol-water mixture.

The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) rating standards determine this home had a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index of -23! This is the lowest HERS index with photovoltaics (PV) that was built in North America in 2014.

Other awards are winner of the 2014 Connecticut Zero Energy Challenge, the RESNET 2015 Cross Border Challenge, sponsored by RESNET and its Canadian counterpart, CRESNET. and a 2015 Housing Innovation Award winner by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Here is the Benker Residence presentation, here is a video of it and here is a more information.


Schaefer Zero Net Energy - Verdae LLC

Schaefer Zero Net Energy Solution- Verdae LLC

The owners of this 7,900+-sq ft home in Rhinebeck had just bought the house and wanted to replace the existing oil boiler and air conditioners with geothermal.

They also wanted to make it sustainable, but the house was poorly insulated and leaky, especially in the attic and basement. So they were sealed and insulated and the attic was added as a conditioned space. This basement and attic work reduced the building heat load by more than 40%.

Two 4-ton WaterFurnace Series 7 water-to-air heat pumps were installed in place of the 4 existing air handlers. A 2-ton WaterFurnace water-to-water heat pump was installed and connected to a new 120-gallon WaterFurnace geo storage tank to provide the domestic hot water.

There were four 500-ft deep boreholes drilled and 1.25-inch unicoil pipes, filled with water, were installed into each borehole. They were manifolded together and 2-inch HDPE (high density polyethylene) was brought into the basement. Two Wilo ECM pumps were connected in parallel, with each one capable of providing all of the flows needed for all three heat pumps. The Wilo pumps were set up to maintain constant pressure as the three heat pumps went on and off line.

Adding 48 solar PV panels made the home Zero Net Energy; 24 were mounted onto each of the two poles. A double-axis tracking system to follow the sun’s movement maximizes the panel output. Using tracking produces about 400% more power than fixed panels and the coincidental peak output is also maximized.

Here is the Schaefer Zero Net Energy Solution presentation.


Bard College Village Dorms

Bard College Village Dorms - Novus Engineering, PC

Bard College is a small private liberal arts college in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. The project is two 32-bed, 8,000-sq ft dormitories on a single well and heat pump system.

There are 8 wells 493 feet deep. A variable speed pump is used on the geo source loop and building dual temp loops. Self-contained variable speed pumps are utilized.

The design is a two-pipe changeover using three 10-ton water-to-water heat pumps to supply fan coil units and perimeter radiation. There is a fourth heat pump to preheat domestic hot water.

The project utilizes only a single central geothermal plant in one of the buildings. It has full Direct Digital Controls (DDC), but the student rooms have simple digital changeover thermostats to save cost on controls. Common spaces have full DDC controls, except for the radiators which uses non-electric control valves. The DDC system closes the supply valve to the radiators when the system is in cooling mode.

Dual temperature water and preheated domestic hot water are piped to the second building through buried pre-insulated PEX lines. This greatly reduces the amount of equipment that has to be maintained.

Ventilation is provided with an energy recovery unit (ERV) in each building. Ventilation air is distributed to common spaces and exhausted through bathrooms and utility rooms. Dorm rooms have operable windows. The ERVs have dual temperature coils to condition the supply air. The only backup heat source is from electric DHW heaters. The controls are configured to turn off the DHW heat pump if the source water gets too cold in the winter and to use the electric DHW heat. When needed, the temperature of the preheated domestic water is raised from 105°F to 120°F for heat distribution.

Here is the Bard College Village Dorms presentation.


12 Chimneys Inn

12 Chimneys Inn - Chuck Russo Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC

12 Chimneys Inn is a 3-story, 10-bedroom, 1850's-era large mansion located in Coxsackie, NY. Although various rooms and bathrooms are still being rehabilitated, it was decided to install the geothermal heating and cooling system.

Vertical ground loops were the heat source for two 5-ton Hydron Module 2-stage water-to-water heat pumps were installed to provide 10 zones with heating, cooling and hot water. An efficient propane boiler can provide backup heat.

There is simultaneous heating and cooling to different zones, especially east-facing and west-facing suites. This is accomplished by a dedicated "heat" storage tank and "chilled" water tank. A robust hot and cold zone valve manifold can direct to specific zones at the same time.

Standard programmable thermostats act as a fail‐safe backup, controlling individual room comfort.

A Connexus fully-customizable control system coordinates of all the heating, cooling and ventilation resources.

Here is the 12 Chimneys Inn presentation.


Municipal Multi Use Geothermal Office

Municipal Multi Use Geothermal Office - Moravec Geothermal

Barney Moravec, Inc. decided to install a multi use system when constructing a new 11,0200-sq ft super-insulated building in Penn Yan. The building consists of a medical office, climate-controlled mini-storage and its own office.

A total of 3 heat pumps provides the heating and cooling to three separate zones. Two are 3-ton Hydron Module water-to-air units for the BMI office and medical office and one 5-ton water-to-air system that handles the climate control mini storage.

One 16-ton common loop field with eight 300-ft boreholes using 1-inch HDPE (high density polyethylene) pipe serves the entire building. There is a non-pressurized flow center, with 2 wells per circuit and one water pump per heat pump.

A simple energy monitoring system monitors the energy used by all 3 heat pumps and the circulation system. A major advantage is low energy rates of $.035 per kWh. On average, this system costs $650 a year to provide heating and cooling.

Here is the Municipal Multi Use Geothermal Office presentation.


DeSalvia Farm Retrofit Net Zero

DeSalvia Farm Retrofit Net Zero - Halco

The project is an old farmhouse from the early 1800's in Brewerton NY. The home is also a working horse farm.

The owners wanted to reduce their high heating bills, so Halco performed an energy audit and made plans to completely eliminate fossil fuel usage for their entire property, not just their home’s heating and cooling needs. The house was insulated to reduce its heating load.

A 6-ton direct exchange geothermal system was installed. All new ductwork was installed to accommodate the increased airflow necessary for geothermal heating. The heating system is coupled with a desuperheater and a heat pump water heater to provide domestic hot water. The horizontal loop field was excavated and each one of the six refrigerant-filled copper loops were laid in individual 125-foot trenches. (The buried fuel oil tanks were removed during excavation.)

One of the large horse barns provided space to install a 39.9kW solar rooftop system that covers not only 100% of the geothermal load but also provides charging stations for his and hers Chevy Volts.

A large net zero system for this property came at a large upfront cost. They were able to utilize NYSERDA financing to cover part of the cost. The couple used some retirement money to cover the rest of the cost as they saw geothermal as a great investment. The federal tax credit also helped reduce the cost. The property is a retrofit net zero reality!

Here is the DeSalvia Farm Retrofit Net Zero presentation.


Lockport Housing Authority Admin

Lockport Housing Authority Admin- Buffalo Geothermal

The project is the Lockport Housing Authority’s 9,300-sq ft administration building, previously heated with gas.

Four 5-ton and one 3-ton WaterFurnace 7 series variable speed heat pumps were installed to provide heating, cooling and domestic hot water generation, serving 14 individually controllable zones within the building.

A 28-ton horizontal slinky loopfield was installed. Central pumping is through one geothermal 20-ton GV-20 flowcenter with two ultra-efficient DC inverter-driven variable speed circulation pumps for added redundancy. Pumping energy was reduced by circulation pumps varying pressure and pumping volume depending on variable flow needed by the heat pumps.

Converting the building from gas to geothermal, including upgrading the insulation in the ceiling, reduced the total site energy consumption, including lighting, computers and other electrical consumers by 67.2%, through the elimination of gas, although the total annual electricity consumption increased.

Adjusting for the impact of the added insulation, and slightly different heating and cooling degree-days between 2013 and 2015, the geothermal system alone reduced the total site energy use by about 60%.

The results encouraged the Lockport Housing Authority to install geothermal heating and cooling in their tenant buildings starting in 2015 to bring renewable energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling to low income families.

Here is the Lockport Housing Authority Admin presentation.