Conventional heating and cooling systems have two strikes against them says Clark Zacaroli, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Hydro Air Components. For one, he explains, “they use air as the medium for conveying warmth or cold. That sounds sensible on the surface, but air is actually terribly wasteful. By using water to transfer the heat energy to the space rather than air, almost all of the heat gets to the space, versus getting lost in the transfer.”
The second strike, he adds, involves how little these systems use radiant technology. “Of those systems which utilize water to transfer the heat, only a small portion utilize radiant products to transmit the heat energy to the space, or more importantly to the occupants of the space,” he adds. “Radiant heating or cooling actually warms or cools the room surfaces and/or occupants, rather than the air, and as such the effect is directly felt versus indirectly (as in the case of warm or cool air).” Three key benefits are gained: efficiency, (less energy required) health (cleaner air in the space) and comfort. (no noise, no drafts).
Europeans have known about radiant technologies and have used these for years. In the U.S., radiant heating systems have continuously gained popularity in both the commercial and residential sectors however total climate control including cooling has been relatively non existent. New technology allows for significant efficiency gains but even more importantly huge improvements in the air quality of the conditioned space year round.
The importance of air quality cannot be overstated. “Not long ago, the objective was to improve air quality at all costs, and we could achieve good quality but the operating costs were very high, and subject to the season. It could cost twice as much to run the [older HVAC] systems,” Zacaroli said.
You are already familiar with the benefits of solar power as a limitless alternative energy source. But did you know that in addition to looking skyward to save energy, we can also look underground? Beneath the Earth’s surface the temperature is a constant 55 degrees (F), a subterranean climate which like the sky, can be tapped for renewable energy.
“The principles of the products we market focus on efficient heat transfer, comfort and health. We produce hydronic commercial air conditioning and heating products that use water as a the means of heat transfer, including those that rely on natural (radiant, or convection) as a means of transmitting that heat energy to the space. Our product development projects are focused on using natural heat sources such as the ground to capture or reject heat,” said Zacaroli. By combining the technologies of ground source heat pumps and switching from traditional air systems to water based radiant systems or heating and cooling on a gross scale you could easily save up to 30 percent in operating costs. Again, the added benefits of comfort and a healthy indoor environment come along for the ride, and are unmatched in a traditional air based system.
As though comfort, cost-savings, and environmental priorities weren’t enough to justify hydronics, the improved air quality and quiet operation seal the deal. “The functions of the system can be justified beyond efficiency. They have to do with comfort and quality of life,” he said. “Indoor air in any of the buildings using our systems when applied correctly can insure that every occupant gets the right amount of fresh air and thus oxygen, along with maximum environmental comfort.”
The exceptionally efficient and promising technology qualifiesfor LEED points, which is a government system for assessing energy use. As corporations look for ways to demonstrate environmentally friendly practices, they are turning to hydronic heating and cooling.
Hydro Air Components was established in the 1980s when the private business purchased all of the assets of Rittling, which remains the key brand name for the company today. Today, the 50-year-old Rittling name is still a top brand of heating products including radiant ceiling panels. The extensive selection of Rittling hydronic heating and cooling equipment features models for all commercial, industrial and institutional applications. Rittling also engineers custom-built components for virtually any plan or architectural drawing for offices, schools, libraries, hospitals, museums, restaurants and many other settings and buildings in North America. The brand’s diversity and flexibility have freed architects from the constraints of designing around limited catalog selections of standard elements, systems and components. In 2006, Hydro Air was purchased by Zehnder, a leading European climate control manufacturing firm.
Last year, Hydro Air Components, Inc. moved to a new, state-of-the-art, 160,000-square-foot facility in Buffalo, N.Y. The new building features the company’s high-tech heating and cooling technologies such as ground source heat pumps and radiant heating and cooling, proof that Hydro Air practices what it preaches.
The Rittling cooling line includes fan-coil products known for heavy-duty construction and custom applications capability. Originally designed for the rigors of the educational and security environment, these robust units are the result of years of research on the latest hydronic coil and fan technologies.
Hospitality and hotel settings are also looking to hydronics for comfort and air quality. Rittling Vertical Hi-Stack Fan-Coil Units are designed to maximize flexibility of selection and minimize cost of installation specifically for multi-floor applications such as hotels, condominiums, dormitories, and high-rise office buildings.
“If you have ever been in a hotel room and can’t open a window, you know what it feels like,” Zacaroli noted. “Our vertical stack product is designed to combat that and bring features that our competitors don’t have in terms of ventilating the room.”
In addition to utilizing the earth as a source of energy, the company’s customer focus through its independent representatives and direct sales force is also a key to success. You might say that Hydro-Air’s philosophy toward customers mirrors its radiant technology. “Our customers drive our organization from the outside in,” Zacaroli said. That sounds a lot like a hydronic approach to customer service.