Combination boilers help New Jersey apartment complex increase energy efficiencyPart 1
Last year, Meadowbrook Gardens, a 1960s-era garden apartment complex in Parsippany, N.J., underwent an extensive renovation, including upgrades to heating and hot-water systems in the complex’s 10 buildings, which collectively house 151 units.
The goal of InterGroup Corporation, the Los Angeles-based owner of the complex, was to individualize utilities for each unit and increase overall energy efficiency.
At the time, each building had an inefficient 1 million-BTU hot-water boiler centrally located in a common basement, which provided space and water heating for all of the units in the building. In addition to being inefficient, the large, floor-mounted boilers were occasionally threatened by standing water, due to floods from a nearby creek.
To address these problems, the property owner hired Beta American Services, a local contractor, to replace the existing hot-water boiler with smaller, more efficient wall-mounted condensing boilers—one for each unit. The contractor began researching different high-efficiency combination, or “combi” boiler models. “Combi” is a European term used to describe a compact boiler that contains both an open loop domestic hot water output, as well as a closed loop central heating output.
After selecting the ideal boiler model for the individual units, the next order of business was developing a way to reduce installation costs for the budget-conscious property owner.
“They wanted the upfront cost to be as low as possible so we had to figure out a way to get 151 of these boilers properly installed and vented very quickly,” said Pete Monahan, owner of Beta American Services. “We developed a plan to build the boiler assemblies off-site in our shop, mount them on painted plywood and transport them to the jobsite, virtually ready for installation.”
Beta American Services drew up a schematic for the boiler assembly and then built one to serve as a template. The team wrote down every dimension, cut and piece needed and created an AutoCAD drawing of the assembly and numbered every component that accompanied the boiler. Then, the team made and stocked storage bins for each individual component and built six work stations for the fabrications.
“After getting over the learning curve, the guys at each work station were eventually able to fabricate four boiler packages a day,” Monahan said. “We’d wait until we got a full load and then take them to the jobsite and mount all the boilers for a building. And, we set it up so there would be only minimal downtime for the tenants. We had to do a lot of planning ahead of time to make it all work, but it ended up going very smoothly.”
Read part two to learn about the multifamily complex’s significant savings.