An old body shop in Newark, New Jersey, was recently renovated into a beautiful 21-apartment building complete with state-of-the-art HVAC mini-split technology.

The two-story, 14,000-square-foot building was built in in the 1960s. The goal for the project was to create exceptional living spaces out of a previously overlooked space, providing more options for students at nearby Rutgers University and other downtown residents. Other goals were efficiency, comfort, and aesthetics that would complement the interior’s modern look.

Jose Antonio Valerio, co-owner of A&G Valerio with his wife Giselle, was invited to bid on the project.

A&G is a full-service, 14-person HVAC and refrigeration company that serves New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

A&G Valerio took the spec to Johnstone Supply’s commercial department in early 2021, for input on how best to control the individual spaces and the common areas. Fujitsu Airstage VRF and Halcyon mini-split systems were selected for the apartments.

The A&G Valerio crew attended special Airstage training focused on installation, start-ups, and technical aspects of the system, then began the HVAC portion of the project in mid-2021.

Three-phase power was not available at the site, so the system was designed with Fujitsu’s single-phase J-IV VRF systems. An additional six mini-split condensers were installed to provide an additional 8 tons of capacity.

Airstage J-IV systems were chosen for their flexibility. The J-IV is available in 3-, 4- and 5-ton capacities, allowing installers to connect up to 15 indoor units to a single condensing unit, with up to 150% connection capacity of indoor units. This means the indoor units can be intentionally ‘oversized’ for the outdoor unit, due to the fact that rarely will every single zone in the building call simultaneously.

The J-IV offers 19.8 SEER and can provide heating capacity at an outdoor ambient temperature of -15°F. The 49 tons of VRF capacity are divided among 16 zones, while the Halcyon mini-splits serve another five zones.

Several J-Series units can be connected to a central building management system via BACnet, LonWorks, or Modbus, but in this case, each tenant has individual control of their own space.

Medium-static air handlers were used throughout, on both the Airstage and Halcyon systems.

The customer preferred a ducted system to wall-hung units, and the complete renovation of the space made it easy to rough-in new ductwork.

The exposed ductwork blends nicely with the industrial feel of the living spaces.

To provide a healthy indoor environment and meet local code, a 12-ton, gas-fired DOAS was also used, which includes an ERV module. Air from the DOAS is ducted into each of the Airstage air handlers.

The work was completed in November of 2021 and the building was occupied almost immediately. The customer has already expressed a desire to use the same system equipment on future projects.