This holiday season, 80 people who have experienced homelessness or who qualify for low-income housing will be able to call the Church Street Station Studios in Norfolk, Virginia “home.” Last year, Virginia Supportive Housing broke ground on the 53,000-square-foot, 80-unit building with the vision of providing safe, low-cost housing that met EarthCraft certification building standards. Residents will pay rent based on their income level and utilities will be covered by the building owner. After much consideration, the HVAC contractor, Green Air Inc., Ashland, Virginia, worked with APG to select Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating’s (Mitsubishi Electric) Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology for this project.
Having worked in the green HVAC field for over 10 years, Matt Roady, president of construction, Green Air, knew Mitsubishi Electric VRF would be perfect for this project. “You don’t have to worry about duct work for each individual unit, which helps in this type of construction; one unit can cool and one can heat at the same time with the VRF system. Which is above and beyond a standard mini split system,” he noted. This is particularly helpful in this situation so each resident has comfort control over their own studio, but building management can keep temperature within energy-efficient ranges.
For the VRF system, the Green Air team installed seven outdoor units, eight branch connector boxes and 102 evaporators that are a mix of ducted and four-way cassettes in the common areas and offices as well as wall-mounted indoor units for each studio to condition the entire building. “[There’s] a benefit on both ends,” noted Roady, when discussing the advantages of VRF for the building owner and contractor. “Cost savings and it’s an easier install.” Roady explained that with a traditional HVAC system, ductwork can be intrusive to the space. When running linesets for Mitsubishi Electric’s VRF, you do not need to run each individual lineset all the way to the roof. “When you go VRF, you just have to make your way back to the branch box and then run one main line to the roof from there – it’s a more efficient system.”
He also explained that VRF technology is the way of the future, especially for multi-family projects. “If the owner is paying for the bills, you’ll see them trying to go this direction, with the most energy-efficient system they can, that has less maintenance.”
Between energy efficiency, low maintenance, an easy install and support from APG, Mitsubishi Electric’s VRF system fit the bill for this project. By the end of the year, residents of Church Street Station Studios will be settling in to their new, comfortable homes.