Photo 169890140 © Martina Hanakova |
National Comfort Institute
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Contracting Business/Kelly Faloon
Photo 280436684 © Cameron Hughes |
Manhattan darkened by smoke from Canadian wildfires.

Pioneer Spirit Meets Modern Comfort

July 1, 2009
A home built from wood obtained from a nearby forest combines rustic individuality with all the comforts of modern HVAC. Ahhh, wilderness!

Early American settlers lived off the land, building their homes from the materials supplied by the rich wilderness. However, it's highly unlikely that those homes were as comfortable year-round as this home in western Massachusetts: after all, Jim Patterson and Orchard Valley Heating and Cooling were still more than 200 years in the future.

In an era of sustainable building and environmental awareness, the home of Rick and Ginger Scott in Worthington, MA, is a truly unique New England original. This home is a post-and-beam structure in which all of the beam work was site-cut and milled from trees taken from the property during the clearing.

And who better than another true New England original, Jim Patterson, to handle the home's comfort system needs. Patterson, the sole proprietor of Orchard Valley Heating and Cooling, Southampton, MA, is a familiar face among Quality Home Comfort Award winners. In fact, it was a referral from the homeowners of Orchard Valley's 2007 Quality Home Comfort Award that helped the Scotts select Patterson to design and install the mechanical systems at their new home.

“This project was achieved via referral by Caleb Harris and Lynn Scott, neighbors and in-laws of Rick and Ginger Scott,” Patterson says. “Caleb and Lynn are the owners of a home that won a QHCA two years ago. Based on their recommendation, Rick and Ginger brought me on to design and install their system as soon as the plans were printed.”

“I guess word travels in small towns,” Ginger Scott says. “Jim is very personable, he's a very easy person to work with and we really enjoyed having him here. He also did an excellent job, the system is working beautifully.”

In the true pioneer spirit, Rick Scott had planned on building most of the home himself, after retiring and moving to Worthington from Colorado. After a year of clearing and preparing the site — all the while living on the site in a 23-foot trailer that seemed even smaller thanks to the presence of four Alaskan malamutes — a hip replacement forced Rick to shelve his plans to build the home himself. The Scotts hired Neil Godden, owner of Neil Godden Timber Framing and Carpentry, a local timber framer, to take over the project. Godden is an expert in what Patterson calls, “This construction form of art.”

“Jim is a true professional,” says Godden. “I've done HVAC work in the past, so I know a good deal about it, and Jim really knows his stuff. He knows his products and knows how to use them.”

Patterson performed all the design, installation, start-up, and service on the system. His two sons, Brian and Matt, are part-time apprentices at Orchard Valley, and participated in the ducting and radiant installation. Brian is starting college this fall at a local technical school for a degree in HVACR.

This beautiful new 3,400 sq.ft. home features a large attached garage with radiant floor heating, a radiant-heated basement, a stunning great room with a Tulikivi wood heating fireplace and oven, and a sleeping wing.

Radiant heating was a must, given the high ceilings and cold Berkshire winters. Patterson installed slab-on-grade radiant in the garage, mudroom and basement. The great room features a staple-up radiant system using Uponor Joist Trak panels. The bedrooms stay with the radiant approach, but use Radson wall panel radiators to ensure a quick heat supply. The master and guest bathrooms feature staple down radiant using Uponor Quik Trak plywood panels.

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Five Radiant Zones

The structure is divided into five zones of radiant floor heating and five zones of panel radiator heating. The air side of the system features a custom fabricated duct system that is mastic sealed and foam wrapped. The home is divided into two zones of conditioned air served by a Carrier Infinity variable speed air handler and I9 SEER R-410A Infinity two-stage heat pump. Zoning is via the Carrier Infinity zone control system.

The air quality is managed by a Carrier Infinity Air purifier, Sanuvox 4000 Ultraviolet light, and Aprilaire 400 series humidification system. Air exchange in the very tightly constructed home is effected by a Venmar Duo 1.9 energy recovery ventilator. This unit provides both bath exhaust and air exchange for the home.

“One of the great features of the variable speed air system is its ability to transfer the Tulikivi stove's energy to the rest of the home by simply adjusting the fan speed in the “fan only” mode,” Patterson says. “This keeps the great room from overheating and increases efficiency by keeping the boiler off for longer periods.”

The boiler system is a Weil McLain Ultra 155 LP gas modulating boiler that serves the home's radiant, domestic hot water, panel radiator, and second stage hydro-heat needs. A tekmar TN4 system manages all of these operations and fine-tunes Btu use by managing the modulation of the heating appliance.

“Comfort was really the driver behind the design. Rick and Ginger wanted something state-of-the-art that would provide maximum efficiency and optimum control of space temperatures,” Patterson says. “Maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ) was also a high priority, and I think the package of components I assembled does the job admirably.” He adds that he used a Honeywell refrigerant analyzer to confirm optimal heat pump operation, and a laser particle counter to quantify air quality improvements.

Start up and balancing went smoothly. “I pay a great deal of attention to duct design, as properly sized and installed systems are very easy to balance,” Patterson says. “The zoning also helps areas needing more conditioning, as the satisfied zones shut down and the system focuses on the problem area.”

This home, from start to finish, has been an outstanding example of fine Design/Build construction — an old concept with a modern flair. “After Rick's surgery, he and Ginger assembled a fine group of contractors to help bring their dream home to reality. I was very proud that after having seen the quality at Caleb and Lynn's home next door, Rick and Ginger asked me to move forward with the same technology and attention to detail,” Patterson says.

Had the New England pioneers of this country's early days been able to travel forward in time to see this house, they would no doubt be impressed by the technology. But they probably would have been even more impressed that the American spirit of independence, and the values of quality, innovation, and dedication to customer service still lived on, as exemplified here by Orchard Valley Heating & Cooling.


  • Aprilaire 400 humidification system
  • Carrier FE03 variable speed air handler and zoning system
  • Carrier Infinity thermostats and zone control accessories
  • Carrier Infinity 2-ton/2-stage 19 SEER heat pump w/R-410A
  • Carrier Infinity air purifier
  • Gastite gas piping
  • Honeywell refrigerant analyzer
  • Super Stor ss60 water heater
  • tekmar TN4 boiler control/radiant mixing system
  • Radson panel radiators and towel warmers
  • Sanuvox 4000 UV system
  • Uponor radiant system
  • Uponor Pex radiant piping and panels
  • Venmar Duo air exchange system
  • Weil-McLain Ultra 155 gas boiler system