Contractor Retrofits His Business
November 2, 2009
When Carl Pond’s contracting company got involved in converting an 11,000-square-foot building into an office-shop-warehouse for his growing business, he sought to showcase energy efficiency and what his company could do in that regard.
The retrofit, located in North Salt Lake City, Utah, had traditional copper piping and gas heaters with old furnaces, and was anything but energy efficient.
“Our retrofit was done with LEED certification and green building as a focus. We wanted to show that we know green,” Pond said. “We built the building to be able to market the green aspect.”
Solar heating was atop Pond’s list and was an easy decision since he also serves as vice president of Eco-Energy Systems, which has worked with ÖkoTech, an Austrian innovator in solar technology for 30 years. Pond set out to harness solar heat for all the building’s heating needs using an in-floor radiant system and hot water fan coils for the main office, employee center, exercise room, and warehouse.
He also adopted a heating and domestic hot water arrangement that has been used extensively in Europe but is relatively new to North America. The solar panels provide almost 90 percent of the heating needs, and a 96 percent efficiency condensing boiler provides the remaining 10 percent and back-up heating.
Pond employed a system of plywood panels attached to an aluminum transfer sheet with a groove down the center of the panel holding 5⁄16-inch tubing. To facilitate tubing turns, the system includes return panels with U-shaped grooves, which ensures total coverage and proper turning radius, he said.
Custom-made ASTM-compliant 250-gallon solar storage tanks were integrated, and the mechanical system also uses pumps and valves. However, Pond said the “brains” of the system are the three-way valves and solar control applications, which continually monitor the system’s heating and hot water needs and adjust the system to run at optimal efficiency.
As for the HVAC system piping, Pond employed a reverse return application, which used more piping, but is more efficient, he said. The first heat source and the last heat source are piped backwards so the flows are balanced and even heat distribution is achieved at each heat source. The system runs hot water to the heating coils and chilled water from a chiller to the cooling coils, with it all circulated through an Aquatherm Climatherm piping system.
Climatherm, which is designed specifically for HVAC applications, “was a perfect fit for this eco-friendly project,” said Pond.
Also boosting the energy efficiency was a smaller air duct piping system, which ventilates the entire building using one-half the cubic feet per minute that a traditional cooling system would consume, Pond said. Additionally, Pond used sealed, pressurized ducts with drops going to the outlets throughout the building and common fan venting for all the bathrooms.
Other aspects included an R-11 membrane roof providing an insulation total of R-28, use of recycled wood and rock, recycling bins located and used throughout the facility, a drip system to water the landscaping, and automatic faucets and flush valves installed in the bathrooms.
An ammonia absorption solar application to provide solar cooling is in the works.
Pond, whose plumbing company has been in the business since 1979, designed the whole building and his company performed the entire remodel, including all building framing and piping.
He bought the necessary fusion welding irons, “because we were committed once I saw the product and learned about it,” and started the pipe installation process.
Piping the entire system took about three weeks. Pond said that the project would have taken about four weeks to run using copper, and with the price of copper, Aquatherm was considerably less expensive, he said.
These days the Carl Pond Plumbing office is meeting the owner’s expectations in terms of being a green showcase, the owner said. Each month individuals and/or groups tour the facility and study its technologies.
For more information, visit www.aquathermpipe.com.
Publication date: 11/02/2009