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Top Job 2018 winners with plaque

Doug Schuster, left, and Mark Nussbaum, right, were recognized by GAOI President Chad Mayes during the IL Geothermal Conference in mid-March in Bloomington.

Oak Park-based Architectural Consulting Engineers (ACE) and Peosta, Iowa-based installer Schuster Heating & Pump Co., Inc., are the recipients of the 2018 GAOI Top Job awards. ACE won in the commercial division for the 1908 Unity Temple geothermal retrofit project and Schuster won for a major residential project in Elizabeth, Il, in the northwestern corner of the state.

Unity Temple project, Oak Park: ACE’s Mark Nussbaum is an engineer from the Chicago suburbs with a reputation for working on numerous historically significant projects, often Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes and commercial facilities. There’s a lot to work with. The prolific Frank Lloyd Wright designed many projects in the Chicagoland and Illinois regions, with many of them right in Nussbaum’s backyard in Oak Park. Unity Temple was a multi-year project that is now heated and cooled with geothermal heat pumps, using a closed loop field of nine, 500-foot vertical loops.

The project included a complete interior and exterior restoration, and Nussbaum was charged with designing a system that would manage temperature and humidity, while maintaining the existing cast iron radiant heating system to prevent moisture damage. Because of the facility’s historic nature, there could be no visible changes to the building, inside or out, without specific approvals. Limited exterior easements limited the space for a loop field and there could be no visible exterior equipment installed. Nussbaum was extremely limited in the use of ducting, which was installed below grade in original tunnels and ducts. “At the end of the project, virtually every register and opening originally intended to deliver conditioned air to the 1908 structure was re-enabled and providing conditioned air to the spaces,” he said in his Top Job application.

The project is currently in its first year of operation and is being seasonally commissioned. Initial observations show the building outperforming initial energy usage estimates, considering that Unity Temple now has heating and cooling systems in operation, for the first time in its 110-year history.

In addition to Architectural Consulting Engineers, Element Energy Consulting was an associated system designer. Great Lakes Geothermal installed the loop field and Atomatic Mechanical Contractor did the installation.

Kunkle Residence, Elizabeth, IL.: Schuster Heating & Pump was the design-build contractor for this project, which was new construction. The home is relatively small, with 2,000 square feet of main floor space, but 54 windows and very tall ceilings. “The house had so few areas without glass that the frame of the house was done with steel beams,” noted Doug Schuster.

The geothermal system uses 10 tons of water-to-water heat pumps and a four-ton water-to-air system for backup heat and cooling. There are seven radiant heating zones and two hydronic air handlers for forced air heating and cooling in a bonus room and the home’s second floor. The loop is a 12-ton horizontal slinky. The estimated energy savings for the project are nearly $4,000 a year, says Schuster.

Schuster said that his customer likes the geothermal system so much that he is currently designing another system for a corn crib on the property that they plan to turn into a recreational room.

Congratulations Mark and Doug for these fine projects! And thanks to Top Job sponsors for 2018 – Connor Company, Water Furnace International and The Habegger Co.