Our good friend Mike Prencavage Jr., owner of The Family Plumber, Los Alamitos, Calif., and president of PHCC CA-ORSB, and some of his California PHCC constituents, recently took a tour of SoCalGas’s [H2] Innovation Experience and new model net zero home. “We were fortunate to visit the SoCalGas facility in Downey, Calif., more specifically a Read more
Our good friend Mike Prencavage Jr., owner of The Family Plumber, Los Alamitos, Calif., and president of PHCC CA-ORSB, and some of his California PHCC constituents, recently took a tour of SoCalGas’s [H2] Innovation Experience and new model net zero home.
“We were fortunate to visit the SoCalGas facility in Downey, Calif., more specifically a mockup home that runs off a mix of hydrogen and natural gas. The system is a H2 microgrid; it’s a regenerative system that can operate solely based off a small amount of water input from either a city source or from a desalinized source, or ocean water,” says Prencavage Jr.
The Innovation Experience is North America’s first-ever clean hydrogen powered microgrid and home. This project demonstrates how carbon-free gas made from renewable electricity can be used in pure form or as a blend to fuel energy systems and communities of the future.
Part of the Experience features clean hydrogen production and storage along with a nearly 2,000 square-foot home that can draw power from solar panels and convert excess renewable energy into clean hydrogen. “Simply put, the net zero home is using solar energy through PV panels, which is then stored in batteries—that’s for the electricity to actually power the home. Then, through an electrolysis method, running the electricity from the battery through water, they are creating hydrogen, which gets stored in a tank which then gets used to mix with the natural gas in the home so that it reduces your natural gas intake from the city by 20 percent,” says Prencavage Jr.
SoCalGas has made a considerable, multi-million-dollar investment in what they believe is the future of clean renewable energy. “It is truly amazing how technology has gotten to this point for renewables. As the argument has always been we’re switching to electricity—here is California, it has been a huge push—most Californians understand, we just don’t have the infrastructure for this … so this visit opened a lot of minds to an alternative-type fuel source when it comes to a blended mix of hydrogen and natural gas,” says Prencavage Jr.
Listen to more on the SoCalGas visit by listening to the Appetite for Construction podcast here:
Uponor North America (Uponor) announced Anna Picchetti as the new Vice President of Marketing & Strategy, effective May 8, 2023. In her role, Anna will oversee Channel Marketing, Portfolio, Analytics, Sustainability, Segment, Engagement, Brand, and Communications. She will report to Uponor North America President Andres Caballero and be a key member of the company’s Senior Management Committee. Anna joins Read more
Uponor North America (Uponor) announced Anna Picchetti as the new Vice President of Marketing & Strategy, effective May 8, 2023. In her role, Anna will oversee Channel Marketing, Portfolio, Analytics, Sustainability, Segment, Engagement, Brand, and Communications. She will report to Uponor North America President Andres Caballero and be a key member of the company’s Senior Management Committee.
Anna joins Uponor with 20 years of experience in Marketing and Operations across industrial, technology, and medical device industries. She brings a wealth of experience developing forward-thinking strategies with a strong track record of execution at industry-leading brands such as Tennant, SPS Commerce, and Honeywell. She has worked at the forefront of innovations like autonomous vehicles and renewable energy, managed high-growth SaaS products and positioning, and transformed customer experiences.
“To help us move our business and aggressive growth goals forward, it was important we found a senior leader who can lead market disruption and drive innovation and segment growth initiatives all while guiding channel development, portfolio management, and go-to-market strategies,” says Caballero. “I’m confident Anna’s approachable leadership style will be a good cultural fit, as she has a proven track record of engaging teams by intentionally listening, learning, and setting clear expectations and outcomes.”
Anna earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. She is a member of the Women United Committee for the Greater Twin Cities United Way chapter and is also a member of Chief, a network for women in the C-Suite as well as senior executives and vice presidents. In addition, she is a USA Hockey-certified coach with a local youth hockey program.
For information about Uponor products, systems, services, and solutions, visit uponor.com.
Taco’s System M air-to-water heat pump is meeting the demand for higher efficiencies and the inevitability of beneficial electrification. Coming off the heels of its 2023 AHR Expo Innovation Award for Sustainable Solutions, Taco’s System M’s air-to-water heat pump system is making waves in the field as well. “You really want to come out with Read more
Taco’s System M air-to-water heat pump is meeting the demand for higher efficiencies and the inevitability of beneficial electrification.
Coming off the heels of its 2023 AHR Expo Innovation Award for Sustainable Solutions, Taco’s System M’s air-to-water heat pump system is making waves in the field as well. “You really want to come out with innovative products that provide enhanced value in the marketplace. The System M is just that—the award is a great validation for the entire Taco R&D team,” says Mark Chaffee, Vice President, Product Management, Taco.
Why did Taco, a leading manufacturer of high efficiency indoor heating, cooling, and plumbing comfort systems, dive into the heat pump market? “We saw the trends in electrification coming so we wanted to include hydronically-based heat pumps to our line of already reliable comfort systems products. The last thing we need is more distributed refrigerant systems, if we are going fossil-fuel free and non-CO2 producing equipment, why not do it with water—with a GWP of zero,” says Chaffee.
System M responds to increasing HVAC electrification trends while providing superior comfort, high efficiency and ease of installation. With just six pipe connections, the heat pump provides up to 44,000 BTUh, 3½ tons of cooling, and a max COP of more than four.
The technology is solar PV and smart grid ready, designed specifically for a low carbon society and built with the knowledge that water is the most efficient and natural energy transfer medium on the planet.
In a single-family, older brick farmhouse in Plainfield, a small town located in north central Vermont, the System M was piloted and installed in February 2020. Thanks to the ingenuity of Rick and Peter Lloyd of Lloyd Home Services, Emerson-Swan and Taco, another satisfied customer was converted to a non-fossil fuel powered heating and colling system with full PV integration.
But, because of Vermont’s extreme cold winter temperatures, the installation did not come without its challenges. “Here in Vermont, there are old homes with little to no insulation in many parts, such as this application before renovations. Though air sealing and spray foam upgrades were added to the home, the seasonal winter temps do offer challenges to heat pump systems holding comfort levels without a back-up or supplemental heat source,” says Rick Lloyd, service manager.
As was the case with Plainfield home, a homeowner’s insulation mistakes, and outdoor temperatures dipping to -20F for consecutive days, concern for supplemental heat was valid, and a back-up pellet boiler was part of the design. When the temperature outside dropped, the back-up pellet boiler kicked-in to provide a secondary natural source of heating. Balancing the two heat generation systems provided the ultimate efficiency throughout the year for a first of its kind fossil-fuel free instalation in Vermont.
There were some early assumptions on BTU heat loss for the historic building that turned out to not be true, says Lloyd. “The proper BTU heat loss survey and calculation in any high efficiency equipment upgrade is important, especially one where the hot and cold extremes are as wide as here in Vermont. As a company we strive to ensure any work—whether a system upgrade or a repair we do in association with heating or cooling—meets or exceeds the desired results,” says Lloyd.
Because this particular example featured extreme frigid temperatures and excessive summer heat inside the brick house, coupled with inconsistant insulation, the team didn’t realize how much harder we had to work on this particular project, recalls Lloyd. However, “the System M package is well engineered and designed and made to attach easily to system piping, and because this was a 2020 pilot program, this particular system was closely monitored by Taco, and they were able to do most adjustments to the system remotely through the app, as needed to dial in the optimal performance,” says Lloyd.
“I will tell you this, if we’re talking a newly-built or well-insulated, slab home, the System M is definitely the cat’s meow,” says Lloyd. And, says Lloyd, the homeowner is extremely satisfied with the cooling of the home in the summer months using a hydronic-based system.
Big Apple Installation
To the south, a homeowner in Brooklyn, N.Y.—who was an early adopter of sustainable practices—purchased an old home in 2019 and quickly began demo work to gut the home prior to what would become a thorough renovation—removing layers of linoleum and vinyl flooring, and essentially all plumbing and wiring. As the work progressed, they began to specify high-performance windows and ample blown-in cellulose insulation. The home included mostly radiant floors and some in-floor convectors for supplemental perimeter “hydro-air” heat.
The homeowner called many New York City-area HVAC companies; however they were reluctant to move beyond their comfort work zone, and none were quick to accept the request to install an air-to-water heat pump system, like the System M. Eventually, calls and referrals led to Chester Birchwood, owner, HVAC KINGS LLC, who ultimately became the installation engineer.
Birchwood, in addition to installing a 3.9 Kw solar PV array atop the home, also installed the System M for cooling, heating and domestic hot water. “I’ve become a big fan of the System M, and its viability for residential installations nationwide,” says Birchwood.
The Efficient Choice
The System M technology is solar PV and smart grid ready, designed specifically for a low carbon society and built with the knowledge that water is the most efficient and natural energy transfer medium on the planet. “Water has a global warming potential of zero. The System M offers resiliency, higher efficiencies and lower long-term operating costs,” says Chaffee.
The outdoor portion of the heat pump (monobloc) features advanced inverter technology, a variable speed fan and quiet operation. The indoor HydroBox unit contains an integrated buffer tank, simplified wiring hub, user interface with smartphone app control, and a high-efficiency, dual-ECM pump piping module. The modular design provides turnkey functionality and reduces installation time. “This cuts installation time in half, and gives contractors more confidence that they can do it,” says Chaffee.