Top Jobs Finalists 2017

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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 2017


Autumn Gardens

2017 Top Job winner
Autumn Gardens, Lockport Housing Authority - Buffalo Geothermal


The 2017 Top Job winner is Autumn Gardens, an all-electric, low-income housing complex in Lockport, NY.

As a result of a previous conversion to geothermal heating and cooling of the Autumn Gardens administration building, the Lockport Housing Authority authorized a similar conversion of its all-electric, low-income, Autumn Gardens housing complex to reduce tenant costs. The conversion was done with the tenants continuing to live in the apartments.

There are 72 apartments in 9 buildings. Each building has 8 apartments with 19 heat pumps per building. There are 2 WaterFurnace console units per apartment and 2 console units for the two stairways and one 2-ton GeoStar Aston water to water heat pump provides domestic hot water, for a total of 171 heat pumps for the 9-buiidng complex.

The central flow center uses 2 ultra-efficient DC inverter-driven variable speed pumps with variable pressure and 19 stages of flow. The district loop system was comprised of 9 loop fields, with 4 bores at a 225-ft depth using 1.25-inch pipe. Pressure grouting was need on 5 of the boreholes.

This project demonstrated renewable, energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling is feasible in low income housing. It received a $68,000 grant, plus $21,000 due after a 29% annual efficiency was demonstrated. The total energy savings for the entire site is over 50%.

Here is the Autumn Gardens presentation and The Buffalo News articles, Lockport housing project installing geothermal heating system and Lockport housing project wins award for geothermal heating about it.


The Riverview House

The Riverview House - Advanced Radiant Design, Inc

The Riverview project in Rhinecliff NY is an existing historically significant carriage house with a modern addition that incorporates integrated concrete form block walls, "Lite-Deck" concrete form floors, and expansive west-facing glass that presented design challenges to keep the building comfortable.

The mechanical equipment consists of two 4-ton GeoComfort water-to-water heat pumps, a 50-gallon buffer tank, a 40-gallon desuperheater tank, 3 air handlers with heat recovery ventilation for fresh air distribution and a condensing boiler for backup.

There are 10 zones of radiant floor heat, as the first stage of heating, and 3 zones of forced air as the second stage.

The closed loop field is designed around a double u-bend bend pipe system. This was more economical compared to single u-bend loops while providing the same heat transfer capabilities.

The control system provides for automatic changeover between heating and cooling. The efficiency of the heat pumps is greatly increased as the central controller rotates the heat pumps so they have equal runtime. The hydronic control panel was shop fabricated to include primary/secondary, boiler, geothermal heat pump and zone piping, as well as control wiring.

A combination of weather responsive control and "indoor temperature feedback" allows the central controller to modify the weather-responsive settings to match precisely the needs of the highest load zone.

There is a gateway that connects the control system to the Savant home automation system providing seamless integration to a single user interface.

Quality Assurance and Quality Control ended up being very important to a successful project. All of the borings were located via both a Total Station survey and drone video and still photographs. This came in handy for diagnosis and repairs when the site excavation contractor damaged the VCL installation twice.

Here is the Riverview Project presentation.


William L. Buck Elementary School

William L. Buck Elementary School - Geo-NII & Bosch Thermotechnology Corp,

In this proof-of-concept installation, a sustainable, energy efficient technology for environmentally sound, large-scale heating and cooling systems was introduced. Using an innovative heat exchanger eliminated the need to drill for a geothermal loop. It saved approximately $600,000 by eliminating the cost and disruption required to drill over 100 boreholes.

This novel approach to commercial building environment control was done by Bosch Thermotechnology Corp. and American Water Company in cooperation with the State of New York and Nassau County. The pilot subject is the 63-year old William L. Buck Elementary School in Valley Stream, NY.

This geothermal pilot project uses water from the water utility's main distribution system to heat and cool. Instead of installing a geothermal loop, a food-grade, flat-plate heat exchanger, located in an enclosed pump house on the school's grounds, is used.

The heat is exchanged (extracted in winter and rejected in summer) and transferred to a water/glycol solution piped into the school and delivered to all 40 heat pump units in the school's rooms.

Each room has its own Bosch CA model water source console unit with individual Hi-Lo fan-speed control. In open areas of the building such as the cafeteria and gymnasium Bosch FHP model EC Large Capacity water-to-air heat pumps, located above the ceiling and in utility space, circulate heated or cooled air through newly installed ductwork.

Preliminary data shows the geothermal system has saved the school district more than $40,000 per year in heating costs, while increasing comfort in the summer by providing cooling for the first time. The system substantially reduced overall energy use by 56% and energy costs by 6%, due to the addition of cooling.

Two oil-fired boilers remain unused in the building but are available for emergency use if ever required. The facilities manager monitors and controls the entire HVAC system via a computer application.

Here is the William L. Buck Elementary School presentation.


Rhinebeck Deep Energy Retrofit

Rhinebeck Deep Energy Retrofit- Verdae LLC

The owners wanted to lower the cost of heating, add central cooling and improve comfort in their leaky, 250-year old, multi addition post-and-beam farmhouse with a stacked stone foundation that in winter has cold breezes, interior snow drifts, and out of control heating bills. The total floor area was 3164 sq ft .Despite two renovations the occupants still had to wear socks and sheepskin slippers to keep feet from freezing on the cold floors.

Simply installing a geothermal heat pump would not solve the leakiness, nor improve comfort. The solution was to perform a deep energy retrofit on the house first to decrease the heating load. After the weatherization was done the load was reduced 77%, and the house was ready for a high efficiency geothermal system.

Previously, two geothermal heat pumps and 4000 feet of vertical ground looping would have been needed. After the deep energy retrofit, a single 3-ton series 7 WaterFurnace geothermal heat pump with 6 zones provided ample heating.

The WaterFurnace Symphony monitoring system was installed. It provides smartphone access to set the thermostat and it sends automatic messages to the owners and servicing contractor if a fault is detected. The service tech has online access to all operational data and can run the unit through test operations remotely.

The ground loop is 600 feet of vertical boreholes with water as the circulating fluid.

The deep energy retrofit cost $104,000+ and reduced the size and cost of the geothermal system by about $100,000. The total heating energy consumption was reduced the by 93%. Not only is the home quieter and more comfortable, but the energy savings is a gift that keeps giving back.

This home is now sustainable and Zero Net Energy ready.

Here is the Rhinebeck House presentation.


One Woodbury

One Woodbury - ACES-Energy

One Woodbury is a century-old factory turning into 30,000-sq ft mixed-use building in Rochester, NY. The first floor is an engineering office and restaurant and the second and third floors house 26 apartments.

Each apartment has its own heat pump. The loopfield of 21 boreholes with 1.5-inch HDPE (high density polyethylene) pipe filled with water and antifreeze is under the parking lot. There is variable speed ground loop and building loop pumping.

100% of domestic hot water is via geothermal and is fuel-switching capable with water-to-water and boiler, depending on loopfield temperature, load, and costs.

This building has a unique control system and monitoring.

There is an identical building nextdoor with 20+ apartments with the same construction and owned by the same person. That building is used the same way and was also redeveloped and monitored at the same time but with no geothermal system installed. The building with geothermal has constantly shown 75% greater energy savings over its twin.

Here is the One Woodbury presentation.


St. Patrick's Cathedral

Divinely Inspired Project - PW Grosser & Landmark Facilities Group, Inc.

Inspired by Pope Francis' vision of responsible stewardship of our planet, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and the trustees of New York City's world-famous landmark St. Patrick's Cathedral decided to have a geothermal system installed. It was considered the best one to meet St. Patrick's objectives and the most cost-effective long-term option for heating and cooling.

The state-of-the-art geothermal system serves the entire cathedral campus with heating and cooling. The plant replaced a conventional HVAC system that relied on Con Edison steam for heating and 1960's-era cooling equipment..

The system serves 76,000 sq ft of indoor space in the Cathedral, parish house, rectory, and cardinal's residence. The central plant includes a MultiStack Modular Chiller/Heater with 8 modules capable of simultaneously generating hot water or cold water.

The plant has the capacity to support 265 tons of heating and 240 tons of cooling with a computerized building automation system to control the system.

Ten standing column wells, averaging 1,650 feet deep and up to a maximum of 2,250 feet were drilled. The wells tap into crystalline bedrock of the Manhattan schist formation with high estimated thermal capacity. Each well had an individual 7.5 hp submersible well pump and plate-and-frame heat exchanger, as well as pressure and temperature sensors, sediment filter with auto backflush, pressure sustaining valve, flow meter, etc.

The full scope of 10 vertically-bored standing column wells to a 2,000-foot depth in bedrock could not be completed. This is why the design team elected to install supplemental heating and cooling capacity as a contingency. The back-up heating redundancy provided by modular gas-fired high efficiency boilers has a capacity of 167 tons. The cooling redundancy/contingency is provided by 120-ton closed-loop evaporative fluid coolers.

The well system has operated to date within temperature set points such that the supplemental fluid cooler and boilers have not engaged since startup.

Compared to a new conventional system, this system reduces energy costs by 25% and annual CO2e emissions by approximately 94,000 kg.

Since there is virtually no physical impact on the existing cathedral architecture, the preferred option of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, St. Patrick's Cathedral demonstrates both the ideal option for landmark/historic buildings and the viability of geothermal systems in a dense urban locale. It eliminates reliance on costly city steam heat and also provides an example for other religious institutions to follow for sustainable and renewable energy solutions.

For more information see Plumbing and Hydronic Contactor news article on St. Patrick's Cathedral.


Residential Geothermal Retrofit in Dense Urban Setting

Residential Geothermal Retrofit in Dense Urban Setting - Natural Systems Engineering PLLC

Many geothermal projects in the northeast are located in rural, suburban, or exurban areas. Low density development makes installation easier. However, if renewable technologies are to be more widely adopted to address climate challenges, the issues of retrofitting existing urban housing stock must be addressed.

This case study discusses the challenges of a geothermal project completed in a densely-developed urban area of Syracuse, New York including financial (i.e., return on investment and financing) and technical (e.g., permitting, well spacing, accessibility for drilling, water and cuttings and spoils management during well drilling) concerns.

This demonstration project on a 1800-sq ft home built in 1897 showed how to install a geothermal system on a 115' x 34' lot with a shared driveway. It was previously heated by gas-fueled gravity furnace and there was no air conditioning.

The geothermal heat exchange was designed using GeoConnections LoopLink software. A GeoStar Cypress 4-ton Combination Heat Pump System was installed. The system provides forced air and radiant heat as well as air conditioning.

The loopfield consists of two 300-ft deep boreholes in a fractured shale bedrock to provide the heat exchange for a 4-ton heat pump, using 1.25-inch SDR 13.5 HDPE (high density polyethylene) piping filled with a 20% anti-freeze mix. The wells are spaced 15 feet apart.

The heat pump is powered by a 6.4 kW rooftop solar PV array installed in 2015 that no longer covers the higher electrical usage.

Here is the Residential Geothermal Retrofit in Dense Urban Setting presentation.

The project was featured on YNN's "Going Green" program in May 2016