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VRF solution provides efficiency for luxury residential retrofit

May 2, 2017

Photo by The Foundry

Originally built in 1872, The Foundry has a rich history dating back more than a century. Once the former manufacturing campus of industrial powerhouse Brown & Sharpe, the 13 brick buildings on 26 acres at the edge of downtown Providence, R.I., have been meticulously restored into a mixed-use complex, which bridges the old and new.

In the middle of the sprawling complex is the Sharpe Building at the Foundry, which served as a mill during the building’s manufacturing years. The goal for the renovation of the 157,500-square-foot, six-story building was to develop 196 loft-style luxury residences. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, the Sharpe Building required a renovation that upgraded the functionality of the building while maintaining the historic design. 

The project team required an HVAC system that would both retain the Sharpe Building’s unique architectural character, while appealing to young professionals migrating to Providence’s urban center who expect modern comfort and conveniences. Therefore, the team looked for a system that was energy-efficient, aesthetically pleasing and, equally important, quiet.

The LG Multi V IV VRF heat recovery system was installed, bringing a super-efficient solution that would allow for individually-controlled heating and cooling in the building’s mix of metro, studio, one- and two-bedroom units.

A traditional water-source heat pump system was originally scoped for the project, but the rapid on-off cycling of compressors and fans can be noisy, and the system would not be able to match the cooling or heating loads without wide space-temperature swings – a problem for a luxury residential building, according to LG.

Using LG’s VRF (variable refrigerant flow) systems would preserve the architectural integrity of the historic building, while addressing space considerations by running small refrigerant lines throughout the building without using bulky ductwork.

In addition to the small refrigerant lines and compact equipment, the LG Multi V IV does not require a large mechanical room. In turn, the Sharpe Building was able to repurpose that space for amenities for the residents including a gym and a theater.  On a large portion of the roof that would have been occupied by a conventional system, the Sharpe building created an outdoor space overlooking downtown Providence for the residents.

To create a comfortable and appealing indoor environment, the Sharpe Building, which reopened in 2015, features a mix of indoor units including ceiling cassettes and wall-mounted units, depending on the location. Selected for their minimal noise level, the LG indoor units provide precise temperature control while operating as quietly as the noise level in a library. 

By using individual zones, the LG Multi V IV systems only engage when there is enough demand, and then balance the load requirements across all spaces to use energy more efficiently. The system provides further energy efficiency through the heat recovery feature as heated return air is redistributed to the zones that need it, rather than heating new air.

“The building owners tell us they are experiencing significant cost savings per square foot operation,” said Eric Peters, regional sales engineer for LG Air Conditioning Technologies.


Topics: Architectural Firms, Automation and Controls, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Healthy & Comfortable Buildings, HVAC - Heating & Cooling & Ventilation, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Interiors, Multifamily / Multiunit Residential, Renovation / Restoration / Remodeling, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design, Ventilation

Companies: LG HVAC


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