Uponor Logo
CASE STUDY

Additional Resources

Uponor
Home Page


Project Profile

 

Location:

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

 

Venue:

High-End, Luxury Home

 

Type:

Radiant Floor Heating,
Snow Melting

 

Installer:

Daniel Bertolini, President
Aero Heating and Cooling Inc.
Harrison Township, Michigan
Telephone: 586-805-4959

 

Builder:

Sally Russell, President
Sally Russell Building Co.
Royal Oak, Michigan
Telephone: 248-549-9190


Uponor products mentioned in this case study

 

Wirsbo AQUAPEX™ Tubing

 

Wirsbo hePEX™ plus

 

Uponor ProPEX™ Fitting System

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the Uponor Case Study Listing / Media Room

RESIDENTIAL: Radiant Floor Heating, Snow Melting

 

BLOOMFIELD HILLS (MI) RESIDENCE


Michigan Dream Home Delivers Comfort and Saves Energy With Radiant Heating Inside and Snow-Melting Outside

Downloadable Resources:  Case Study (.pdf)  |  Text (.txt)  |  Image Gallery (hi-res .tif)

 

Uponor Case Study: BloomfieldHeating and cooling contractor Daniel Bertolini had a tall order to fill when his long-time friend and professional colleague, builder Sally Russell, approached him about providing the mechanical needs for one of her most ambitious projects to date. Russell was proposing a massive 22,000 square-foot-home on a three-acre lot for the exclusive enclave of Bloomfield Hills, located 14 miles north of Detroit. The community is consistently ranked as one of the five wealthiest in the United States.

With its unique brickwork, turrets and triple-glazed leaded glass windows, the house is reminiscent of the 16th century English Tudor style and designed to appear as if it had been on the property for years. Inside, walnut and oak floors have been hand-scraped, while marble and stone floors have been honed or tumbled to give them an aged appearance.

However, for Russell – president of her namesake building company in Royal Oak, Michigan – state of the art comfort and energy efficiency were also top priorities in the home’s construction.

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield

“My philosophy is simple,” says Russell: “For the homeowner and the builder, it should never be enough to simply have beautiful rooms. One must pay equal attention to all the things that ultimately make the home or office function properly, such as the heating, plumbing and electrical.”

“I’ve worked with Sally on various projects for the past 12 years,” adds Bertolini, president of Aero Heating and Cooling Inc., of Harrison Township in Michigan. “After all that time, I can honestly say that I pretty much know what she likes, and I know what works best for her. That’s why I believe she chose me to design and install a heating and cooling system that would make every inch of the home she designed and built as comfortable as possible.”

For his efforts, Bertolini recently earned an honorable mention in the first annual UPONOR DREAM HOME COMPETITION. Uponor, formerly Wirsbo, is a leading supplier of plumbing and heating systems for residential and commercial building markets across North America and Europe.

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Radiant tubing installation: With radiant floor heating, heat stays concentrated near the floor where it is needed the most.

Radiant heating a must: From the beginning, Russell had insisted on using radiant floor heating as the primary heating source in the home, rather than a conventional forced air system. She demanded radiant not only because it is more energy-efficient, but also because it provides a healthier, cleaner environment with more consistent room temperatures.

“That’s the one thing Sally was adamant about,” says Bertolini. “In fact, she’s been known to turn down projects where prospective clients insist on having forced air over radiant. It gets back to the idea of if you’re going to install the best, you might as well go the whole nine yards.”

When the house was completed in late 2005, more than 90 percent of the interior structure was warmed with a radiant heating system, made of Uponor cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) piping. In addition, an Uponor snow-melting system was employed to keep the driveway, porte-cochere, terrace, walkways and other outdoor areas snow- and ice-free during the winter months.

Why radiant? With forced air, heated air rises to the ceiling, leaving cold pockets at the floor level. Because the Bloomfield Hills house has many rooms with high ceilings, the use of forced air would have created a fairly big temperature gap between the floor and the ceiling.

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
One of three manifolds located at Sally Russell building site.

There are no such problems with a radiant system, in which heated water flows from the heat source through PEX tubing installed underneath the floor in a looped configuration, with the pipe loops set equidistant from one another. The heat is evenly dispersed where it is needed most – at floor level, the better to warm people and surrounding objects more quickly and effectively. Cold-air drafts are eliminated, and the temperature remains steady throughout each heating zone.

As a result, thermostats need not be set so high to achieve a desired comfort level, which is why radiant heat is more fuel-efficient than forced-air. In addition, because no blowers are involved, airborne allergens are reduced.

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
7,000 linear feet of 5/8-inch PEX tubing was used for the snow-melt system, shown here being installed before pavement was poured.

The hard-dollar payoff on all these advantages can be found in the monthly utility bills, says Bertolini: “During the coldest month of the winter of 2005-2006, the heating bill – excluding the cost of running the snowmelt – was around $1,200. That’s truly remarkable for a residence spanning more than 20,000 square feet of living space. A similar structure using forced air would cost about 20 percent to 40 percent more to heat.”

Adds Russell: “It just doesn’t make sense to build a beautiful home with magnificent interiors and state-of-the-art features without taking into account those things that make the structure energy and fuel efficient. That’s why when it comes to heating choices, I believe that radiant heat is the only way to go.”

 

Appendix A: Mechanical and Manpower Requirements
Source: Daniel Bertolini, Aero Heating and Cooling

  • A staff of six to 13 Aero Heating and Cooling employees worked at various times to install the Uponor radiant system.
  • The cost of installation was from $12 to $18 per square foot.
  • The cost of materials ranged from $3.60 to $5.00 per square foot. Typically, the cost per square foot is dependent on the size of the project, according to Bertolini: The bigger the job, the lower the per-unit material costs.
  • The home uses five boilers, split between two mechanical rooms. A 1.5 million BTU/hour boiler room in the main portion of the home provides heat for the entire house as well as the garage and maid’s quarters. A second, 1.2 million BTU/h boiler room powers the outdoor snow-melt system, pool and hot tub.
    • One Burnham 300,000 BTU 210 Series cast iron boiler (the smallest of the home’s five boilers) serves as the heat source for the home’s entire radiant heating system and garage floor.
    • Two 600,000 BTU Burnham 810 Series cast iron boilers provide the heat source for the home’s 10 hydronically heated air handlers, and two domestic hot water tanks.
    • Two 600,000 BTU Burnham 810 Series cast iron boilers provide the heat source for the home’s snow-melt system, heated swimming pool and outdoor hot tub.
  • Approximately 29,000 linear feet of 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch and 3/4-inch PEX piping was used for the in-floor radiant heating and outdoor snow-melt systems. Specifically:
    • 20,000 linear feet of 1/2-inch tubing was used for the radiant system’s in-floor piping.
    • 7,000 linear feet of 5/8-inch tubing was used for the snow-melt system.
    • 2,000 linear feet of 3/4-inch tubing was used for the distribution piping to the manifolds for the radiant heating system.

 

Appendix B: Efficiency Measures

In addition to the use of radiant floor heating in the inside, Aero Heating and Cooling maximized energy efficiency by doing the following:

  • Ten hydronically heated air handlers supplement the radiant floor heating system. The air handlers operate just like a forced air system, except – instead of a furnace – two of the structure’s five boilers serve as heat sources. Boilers send hot water through hydronic heat coils, while a blower evenly distributes warm air emanating from the heat diffusers throughout the room.
  • Why the blower and the air handlers? If the owners should be gone for an extended period during the winter months, they can have the entire structure heated in less than an hour via the air handlers. After that point, the radiant heat system would take over. Also, the air handlers provide cooling during the summer months, and are used to support the home’s air-cleaning, air-purification and humidity-control needs.
  • During warm-weather months, a heat exchanger attached to two of the structure’s five boilers can divert heat from the radiant-heated snow-melt system to the outdoor pool and the hot tub.
  • In the home’s construction, blown-in cellulose insulation was used in place of fiberglass insulation between 2-inch x 6-inch studs, rather than 2-inch x 4-inch studs, to provide an airtight envelop that greatly reduces air infiltration. According to Bertolini and Russell, the combination of blown-in cellulose insulation and radiant heating has resulted in exceptionally affordable energy bills, especially for a house of this size.

 

Appendix C: Summary of Radiant Heating Benefits


Proven Reliability:
Uponor PEX tubing has been used successfully around the world for more than 30 years: first in radiant floor heating systems and later for plumbing and residential fire-sprinkler lines. In addition, PEX tubing has a life expectancy of more than 100 years when used under normal operating conditions. In the two decades since PEX was introduced to North America by Uponor (formerly Wirsbo), more than two billion feet have been installed on this continent alone. Worldwide, that in-service figure stands at more than 11 billion feet. Bertolini wanted assurances that any system his company installed had a strong track record. No other flexible system on the market could provide this long history of proven performance.

Comfort and Convenience: A radiant floor heating system heats objects instead of air. This prevents people from losing heat to the cold objects around them. That, in turn, makes them comfortable at lower thermostat settings. Also, there are no cold drafts or damp floors, so the temperature stays consistent and comfortable all the time. In addition, the use of a radiant snow-melting system in the driveway and walkways eliminates the need for shoveling, resulting in safe, ice-free areas.

Energy Efficiency: High ceilings and numerous windows make it easy for heat to escape. With radiant floor heating, heat stays concentrated near the floor where it is needed the most. The improved comfort and efficiency of the radiant system is expected to save the homeowner anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent in heating costs.

Versatility: Radiant heating proved the ideal comfort solution for this particular home, which contains a variety of floor coverings, including hardwood, marble, tile, carpet and stone. The versatility of the radiant system gives the owner the freedom to segment the home into multiple zones, each heated appropriately based on the floor coverings, conditions and use patterns. Weather-responsive controls also adjust the amount of heat going into each zone, based on outdoor conditions.

Corrosion-Resistance: Bertolini chose Uponor’s radiant heating system because the PEX tubing is guaranteed to be corrosion-resistant. Uponor also provides a 25-year warranty and the most reliable fitting system on the market.

Comprehensive Training: Training helps assure that every installer is familiar with proper installation techniques for Uponor’s radiant heating system, so that Bertolini’s customers are satisfied with the quality of the product and its installation.

The design information in this case study is provided for illustrative purposes only. The actual requirements of similar projects will depend on regional climatic conditions, project-specific heat loss, owner expectations, applicable building codes, etc. Please contact your Uponor representative for assistance in designing your specific projects.

# # #

For more information about the benefits of cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) tubing, contact a reputable manufacturer, such as Uponor North America (www.uponor-usa.com).

For editorial assistance, contact:
John O’Reilly
c/o O’Reilly/DePalma
(815) 469-9100
e-mail: john.oreilly@oreilly-depalma.com

 

 

Back to top

 

 

IMAGE GALLERY

 

Hi-res versions of images are available for immediate download in .tif format. To download, click on the desired image and a zip archive automatically downloads to your computer. Due to how various browers handle downloads, you may have to expand the zip archive manually. The zip archive expands into a .tif file (6" wide x 4.5" high; 1800 x 1350 pixels; 300ppi; CMYK; unless otherwise specified below the image).

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
On site manifold construction.

File Name: UP0636-BH007.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
One of three manifolds located at Sally Russell building site.

File Name: UP0636-BH010.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Two air handlers for second stage heat and DX cooling.

File Name: UP0636-BH014.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Main boiler room checking main circulator.

File Name: UP0636-BH016.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Joist-heated wood floors to kee the room cozy even with these
beautiful massive windows.

File Name: UP0636-BH017.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Front elevation of 22,000-square-foot home on a threeacre lot.

File Name: UP0636-BH018.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
12-inch-diameter PVC pipe used as a chase to support 100 feet
of PEX tubing in the ceiling of the lower level.

File Name: UP0636-BH021.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Snow melt and pool/hot-tub boiler room.

File Name: UP0636-BH023.tif
Image Size: 4.5" wide x 6" high (1350 x 1800 pixels)

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Snow-melt secondary distribution point.

File Name: UP0636-BH025.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
The use of a radiant snow-melting system in the driveway and
walkways eliminates the need for shoveling, resulting in safe,
ice-free areas.

File Name: UP0636-BH028.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Walkway snow-melt to outdoor hot tub.

File Name: UP0636-BH029.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
7,000 linear feet of 5/8-inch PEX tubing was used for the
snow-melt system, shown here being installed before pavement
was poured.

File Name: UP0636-BH034.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
An Uponor snow-melting system was employed to keep the
driveway, porte-cochere, terrace, walkways and other outdoor
areas snow- and ice-free during the winter months.

File Name: UP0636-BH035.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
BEFORE: Radiant system being installed in the basement main
hallway. AFTER: The main hallway finished.

File Name: UP0636-BH036.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Radiant tubing installation: With radiant floor heating, heat
stays concentrated near the floor where it is needed the most.

File Name: UP0636-BH039.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
BEFORE: Radiant system being installed in the first floor main
entry area of the home. AFTER: The entry area finished.

File Name: UP0636-BH042.tif

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Radiant tubing installation in the first floor main
hall area. Installer chose Uponor’s radiant heating
system because the PEX tubing is guaranteed to
be corrosion resistant.

File Name: UP0636-BH043.tif
Image Size: 4.5" wide x 6" high (1350 x 1800 pixels)

Uponor Case Study: Bloomfield
Shown here is the tubing covered with
Gyp-Create Floor Underlayment.

File Name: UP0636-BH044.tif
Image Size: 4.5" wide x 6" high (1350 x 1800 pixels)

 

 

Back to top