• Contractingbusiness 1350 Dotyhome

    'NeoCastle' Hums Along on Renewable Energy

    Oct. 17, 2012
    Home features state-of-the-art green systems technology that provide heating, cooling, domestic hot water, and indoor air quality.

    A man’s home is his castle. Even if it’s only, say, a starter castle with no moat or drawbridge.

    When the CEO of a commercial contracting company that specializes in historical restorations designed and built his own home, he wanted to make it his personal masterpiece. It wasn’t a surprise, then, to learn of his love affair with magnificent historic structures and cutting-edge building systems.

    So inspired by the architectural style in America during the late 1700s, the owner and his wife decided to build a Federalist home of their own. After a year of planning and another two years of construction, the now-complete home awaits guests to arrive by horse and carriage.

    While blending old with new, this large Federalist home, completed in 2012, appears as one constructed in the 1700s. All design elements of the home are authentic to its period roots, yet the newly-constructed home in Williamston, MI was completed with royal trimmings from another era, including super-efficient mechanical systems.

    The homeowner’s firm has achieved national recognition for masterful renovations of early American architecture including the US capitol building, the capitol buildings of Virginia and Michigan, and Notre Dame’s Golden Dome. And, in line with work they’ve done for discerning buyers, the homeowner decided this was a fine opportunity to use the most efficient building systems available. In the early design stage, green and sustainable construction practices were chosen.

    The home sits amidst 50-acres of rolling terrain with forest, meadows, ponds and a quarter mile of Red Cedar River frontage. At the door, visitors see that the massive, red brick home perfectly mimics the architectural style made famous during the 18th century: authentically correct, yet sporting LEED Gold certification, which made it a fine runner-up for this years’ Quality Home Comfort Awards.

    Every aspect of the new, 10,257-s.f. home is historically correct; not even Paul Revere could question its authenticity. Built using granite foundation stones below grade to the limestone lintels, some of which were recovered from the property and split on site, it captures the Federalist grandeur and flair, complete with several interior walls built of brick and stone.

    To complete the ambience and character of an older, renovated home, some interior walls take on the appearance of former outside walls, now inside – feigning additions that would have been completed through the years as old doors or windows were sealed with stone and brick. Similarly, the limestone lintels above the home’s windows in the front of the house differ from those in other areas.

    Out With the Old, In With the New
    Behind the walls and hidden in the basement mechanical room are state-of-the-art “green” systems technology that provide heating, cooling, domestic hot water and indoor air quality. The contractor of choice – tapped to install the covert mechanical systems – was Lansing, MI-based Doty Mechanical.

    The HVAC design for the home is a “stacked” concept to reduce the length of the ductwork runs and for strategically balancing domestic hot water demands with in-floor heating requirements.

    “This project was definitely one-of-a-kind,” says Doty Mechanical President, Gary Doty. “It was a two-year undertaking from conception to completion. The end result is a home that, by all appearances, could have been built centuries earlier. Unlike its old appearance, though, the home meets or exceeds the most stringent guidelines and performance testing for green and sustainable construction practices.”

    The HVAC design for the home is a “stacked” concept to reduce the length of the ductwork runs and for strategically balancing domestic hot water demands with in-floor heating requirements. Two closed-loop water-to-air ClimateMaster geothermal systems supply forced air cooling and heating (or supplemental heat) to 14 forced air zones. Each water-to-air system is coupled with an energy recovery ventilator. Two of the units, each providing a capacity of 72,000 BTUs for heating or cooling, also have desuperheaters to meet all domestic hot water needs. Immediately downstream of the desuperheaters are two 85-gallon storage tanks to pre-heat the domestic hot water.

    Two three-ton, high-temperature ClimateMaster Tranquility THW water-to-water systems supply heat for water that serves the home’s 10 radiant heat zones and 100% of the domestic hot water. The network of tubing includes 9,488 lineal feet of radiant PEX tubing. The in-floor radiant system is tied to outdoor reset with a supply temperature range of 85 to 125F. Taco zone valves, controls and four zone control panels were employed to jockey water to and from the home’s many hydronic zones while allowing for capacity to heat domestic hot water set as priority.

    “Each of the zone valves is tied to a digital thermostat which regulates temperature based on feed from a floor sensor,” Doty explains. “We used Watts Radiant’s RadiantWorks design software for load calculations, zone layouts, floor covering considerations and in-floor PEX piping length and spacing,” adds Jose Cruz, project manager.

    “We built the system with both primary and secondary piping,” says Project Foreman Jason Castle. “We have multi-temp systems with the higher temp zones taken off first and then the lower temp zones last. We used zone valves to control each zone. Water temperatures are controlled by the ClimateMaster THW systems. Domestic hot water has priority over radiant in-floor heating with domestic hot water set at 125 F. Radiant in-floor temps are basically set at 110F.”

    Many Details
    Castle continues, “all of the home’s ductwork is sealed with solvent-free, non-toxic, water-based sealant. Centrifugal exhaust fans were used for all bathroom exhaust and for the garage pollutant fan. Copper roof and side wall exhaust caps were used for all exhaust fan terminations. These are details that really capture the attention of discerning homeowners who demand the best reward for their investment.”

    “A power open range make-up air damper system was included and interlocked with the 800 CFM range hood, with make-up air louvers installed into the crown molding of the kitchen," says Cruz. "In order to keep the first floor of the home historically correct, all of the return air intake grilles are concealed in the ceiling moldings of the first floor, only visible when standing directly below the molding."

    “The length of the return air slots within the moldings were calculated based on required CFM for each room and zone. The effectiveness and performance of this method for ducting the return air on the first floor was proven successful by the third party Certified Air Balance Report,” Doty adds.

    The Doty Difference
    Gary and Peggy Doty celebrate 30 years of HVAC excellence within the greater Lansing market in 2013. Doty Mechanical is Lansing’s only locally owned Carrier factory authorized dealer. The Dotys once owned the largest mechanical firm in Lansing, Michigan, with more than 65 employees. In 1998, they decided to sell their company, with plans to retire early. They were to manage the now publicly traded company for three years. They ended up staying for five, and then decided to retire permanently.

    Seven months later, loyal customers, employees, suppliers and vendors convinced the Dotys to return to the trade in 2004. That’s how Doty Mechanical began. And although not the largest anymore, Doty is now back on top as the number one rated mechanical firm in Lansing. Working for the Dotys for the better part of 20 years, several of their old employees joined the new company and are still with them today as part of their 18-person shop.

    Nine out of 10 large custom new homes in Lansing feature a Doty designed and installed mechanical system. Although they do some smaller residential work, their niche is in homes from 6,000 square feet to 12,000-s.f. Add-on/replacement, design/build commercial work and service and preventive maintenance help round out their offerings. Their shop features a 2,000 sq.ft. “working” retail showroom.

    “We take personal interest in each and every customer we do business with – no matter the size of the job. We also focus on high quality – not quantity. All of our techs are NATE certified and have undergone extensive training. We like to think of ourselves as a one-stop-shop here in Lansing,” adds Peggy Doty, vice president and CFO.

    Rachel Wenger is a writer with CommonGround/Uncommon Communications, LLC, Manheim, PA.