When Jason Ridgeway, Ridgeway Home Services, called and said that he had a radiant jobsite to show me that would knock my socks off, he wasn’t kidding. Ridgeway Home Services, West Chicago, Ill., designs and installs heating and cooling systems, and is a complete, one-stop resource for sustainable home comfort. Ridgeway’s work can be described as architect and builder influential, which means that he has built the trust to gain referrals from architects and builders alike. “Doing quality work gets you to the next job,” says Ridgeway.
Navigating back roads in rural southeast Wisconsin, I finally made it to the front gate where Ridgeway was there to greet me. The property lies on what was once a former Boy Scout camp situated on beautiful Lake Delavan. We both proceeded through main grounds and stopped in front of the two guest houses.
You see, this wasn’t any ordinary project for Ridgeway. His client had bought this property with the intention of transforming the camp into a single-family “resort,” which his family can enjoy, as well as hosting worker meetings and retreats. The resort is complete with an entertainment lodge, housing for guests, an indoor tennis and basketball court, workout and spa area, a lakeside pavilion and boathouse, and the main residence—all radiantly heated. Ridgeway was tasked to keep his clients comfortable with state-of-the-art hydronics equipment, which features geothermal to radiant, snowmelt systems, custom ductwork, weather sensing controls and an intuitive, interactive building automation system throughout all of the buildings—a project that took a better part of four years. “I couldn’t have imagined how much it would cost to run this place without geothermal. The heating bills are next to nothing now,” says Ridgeway.
The Guest Houses
Our first stop was at one of the two 1,700-sq.-ft., two bedroom, two bath guest houses—with full laundry capabilities. Each guesthouse has its own mechanical room, nearly identical to each other, which share a geothermal field. WaterFurnace Envision water-to-air and water-to-water units are the driver for radiant floor heat, AC and second stage heat. For every forced air zone (5), it was matched to radiant. The two cabins share a 10-ton geothermal closed-loop system, with boreholes reaching 350 feet below ground.
An HTP Elite 399 boiler provides the source for domestic hot water, and snowmelt for the patio areas. A 60-gallon SuperStor Ultra indirect hot water storage tank and an 80-gallon Boiler Buddy geo buffer tank were used. Other features of the mechanicals include Grundfos 2699 circulators, Honeywell expansion tanks, Belimo actuators and Taco air eliminators. Every inch of the two guest houses is radiantly heated, provided by REHAU O2 barrier PEX—1/2” for in-floor radiant and ¾” for snowmelt. The main supply and returns are 1”, and with the aid of a Flir TSIR infrared thermal camera, REHAU Pro Balance manifolds were installed for system balancing. For building pressurization, a Carrier custom-built air handler was installed, which is activated by the client through a touchscreen button when lighting the fireplace to guarantee immediate positive venting of smoke, even with a cold chimney.
Paul Heath Associates, Franklin Park, Ill., provided the home automation controls and programming, and Ridgeway worked together on the HVAC designs. They provide HVAC and Delta direct digital controls (DDCs), which integrate into a Crestron monitoring system, for the most complex mechanical systems. “If there are any problems with the system such as a loss of pressure, temperature drop, etc., I will receive an email update,” says Ridgeway, who has been contracted to perform annual maintenance on the property.
The Entertainment Lodge
We exit the mechanical room of the guesthouse and head over, via a short drive, to the entertainment lodge, a 2,000-sq.-ft. building, which features amenities such as an Olympic-sized pool, entertainment bar, game area, pool table, and screened-in porch area.
A 12-ton water-to-water geothermal system provides radiant 1st sage heating 2nd stage hot water to air handling units (AHUs), as well as chilled water to AHUs. Three HTP scalable Mod-Con 500s provide heat for snowmelt, domestic hot water, spa and pool and heating back-up to the geothermal unit needs a unforeseen boost or in the event of a break down. Other features include two Carrier air handlers, a Nortec steam humidifier and variable frequency drives (VFDs) for the air handlers and the chilled water pumps. PEX piping includes ½” and ¾” REHAU O2 barrier PEX. The automation system can “predict” the weather via use of the Internet weather station and pre-heat the snowmelt system—the slabs rely on tekmar in-slab sensors, which can activate the snowmelt.
Indoor Tennis Courts
The 15,000-sq.-ft. indoor tennis and basketball court features radiant heat, but not by geo this time. This building has building pressure system, snowmelt, custom-built carrier air handlers and custom duct work. Three HTP Mod Con 500s provide the water heating and Carrier packaged rooftop units—although situated adjacent to the building and not on the rooftop—provide air conditioning and second-stage heat. The 30″, 40′ high spiral ductwork run on both sides of the court.
On the second floor, you’ll find an exercise area equipped with treadmills, stationary bikes and ellipticals, with multiple wall-mounted flat screen TVs above the exercise equipment. Next to the workout area is a life spa area, which features a Natare pool that is boiler heated, and sauna.
The 15,000-sq.-ft. main residence features a 40-ton geothermal with 350-ft wells in front of the home. Four 10-ton, WaterFurnace water-to-water heat pumps provide radiant heating, which are Grundfos VPS 32160 dual pumped per geo unit for redundancy. Two 119-gallon SuperStor Ultras provide domestic hot water. Two Munchkin 399 boilers furnish snow melting for the driveway. Two 200-gallon chilled water buffer tanks and two 200-gallon hot water buffer tanks from Niles Steel Tank are installed.
Siemens motor starters were used with ABB VFDs and will disengage like circuit breakers to prevent air handler blown motors over amperage. One carrier make-up air handler the size of a small car and two First Company air handlers are installed in the mechanical room. The forced air system have more than 30 zones each with a VAV reheat coil to be able to provide both heating and air-conditioning from one plant to its multiple zones. A variable air volume damper panel is used to control the reheat coils for the forced air after it has traveled a certain distance. This allows the system to cool the air for air conditioning one zone and the re heat another zone for heating and cool simultaneously.
Below this panel is a tile floor radiant panel with and a wood floor radiant panel controlling all the zones and independent water temps required to heat the floors. Every inch of the building has REHAU floor radiant tubing in it—some in mud set for tile floors and others between sleepers with lightweight Gypcrete over pour for the wood floors.
Six Hellenbrand water filtration units have been installed, and a unique scale system has been implemented to notify the building management team when it is time to refill the salt tank. The salt tank was installed on a scale and calibrated so when the salt is used up it would trigger an alert to the house manager to have refilled. This building also provides and ships over chilled water and hot water heating and cooling to a smaller cottage located near the building.
Lakeside Pavilion and Boathouse
Built into the side of a hill, the 4,500-sq.-ft. Lakeside Pavilion provides residents and guests a respite from a day of activities on the lake before making the short trek up the hill to the main lodge and gust houses.
The mechanical room in the pavilion features a WaterFurnace water-to-water geothermal system, which provides radiant heat and second stage heat. First and second stage cooling is from the geo unit. An HTP Elite boiler provides hot water for the snowmelt. Two 50-gallon Bradford White Hydrojet water heaters pull heat from the water-to-air desuperheater for domestic hot water. REHAU Pro-Balance manifolds were used.
The 2,000-sq.-ft. Boat House features the WaterFurnace Envision water-to-water geothermal unit for radiant floor heating and an Envision water-to-air for air conditioning. It also has CO2 sensor to power exhaust fans while working on vehicles or maintenance equipment.