Banking on VRF

Not only does the bank's VRF system keep employees comfortable, it also keeps the bank’s technology safe, and most importantly, cool. (One of a series of ductless project profiles to appear in CB this month.)

Editor's note: Publishing this project story does not imply endorsement or preference by Contracting Business.

Since its inception in 2007, The Bank of San Antonio, San Antonio, Tex., has been built on strong relationships and quality service. However, when the bank’s success started to grow exponentially, it needed to find a space to accommodate employees and customers. After breaking ground on a new, 56,000-sq.ft. office space in 2015, the bank needed to find an energy-efficient HVAC system that offered quality comfort and control.

The search ended by selecting Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) technology from Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric).

Tom Moreno, executive vice president of operations and technology for Bank of San Antonio, supervised the the project from start to finish. As the liaison for
the bank, Moreno knew it would be a challenge to find an HVAC system that would meet everyone’s needs.

“We were looking for a system that was energy efficient but that could also provide comfort and produce the temperatures that we needed throughout the organization.” Moreno and his team originally planned to install traditional HVAC technology, but with the assistance of local HVAC contractor, Flo-Aire Service Inc., San Antonio, and engineering consultant, Cleary Zimmermann Engineers, San Antonio, they decided to consider VRF.

Eddie McDuff, vice president, Flo-Aire Service, knew VRF would be suitable for the building since it would meet the bank’s initial requirements for an HVAC system. He said, “They needed a very energy-efficient system, and VRF would give them not only energy efficiency but also zone control. It’s a newer way that we’ve been seeing a lot of offices use air conditioning.”

Moreno agreed that VRF’s ability to zone would allow the bank to offer comfort to every person in the building. “We needed control in the offices, conference rooms, lobby area and other communal spaces in the building. We needed to be able to manage the fluctuation of people.”

After consulting with long-time distributor, Mike Fauver from Texas Air Products, San Antonio, about the project, McDuff recommended Mitsubishi Electric. He said, “Mitsubishi Electric was the first manufacturer that we got trained on. Being the first in the industry, they worked out the kinks with their systems, and we really like their products. They’re easy to install and start up, and they also offer a good warranty. We’ve had really good success with them.”

Moreno agreed with the recommendation, and shortly thereafter, installation began. According to Moreno, the process “went smoothly and met budget requirements.” McDuff concurred and said that Texas Air Products and the local project management group, Metropolitan Contracting Company, LLC, San Antonio, were extremely helpful throughout. He said, “Metropolitan was on top of the project, which made our install seamless, and the equipment was readily available with Texas Air Products. We’ve been working with them for over 10 years now. There weren’t any hiccups on the job that I can remember.”

Since project completion, the VRF system has provided precise control and comfort for the bank. Moreno said, “We’ve all been in places where it’s too hot or too cold but not with this system. We like the flexibility and being able to set standardized temperatures throughout the organization. We can lock specific thermostats to control cost, but we can also unlock some thermostats when clients come into conference rooms.”

Not only does the VRF system keep the employees comfortable, but it also keeps the bank’s technology safe, and most importantly, cool. Moreno said, “They installed wall hung units in the information technology equipment office, which is essential to operation of the
organization. They can’t overheat.”

According to McDuff, he has only heard praise from the bank about the system’s performance.

“There are no complaints. I have reached out to a few people and they seem to love it, and sometimes, no news is good news. From the installation to the operation of the equipment, there has been nothing but good things.”

Moreno also commented on how the system accomplished the one true goal for the bank – comfort everywhere, at any time. “We’ve liked how we can set the temperature an hour before guests walk in during an event and immediately they can be comfortable. Once we learned the system, it has been easy to manage it and helps us make sure the folks here are comfortable.”

The Bank of San Antonio’s new office space, complete with Mitsubishi Electric VRF, has been an overall success. The new space provide employees with a comfortable place to serve clients effectively and efficiently. Moreno said, “If our team is too hot or too cold, it will affect productivity. Our clients should also get good service, and ensuring that our team is comfortable allows us to fulfill our promise to our clients that they will receive an exceptional experience.”

 

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