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This is a 7,800sqft ICF home in Calgary, Alberta of a husband and wife business team who own a mechanical contracting company.  

The home has a single high efficiency wall mount boiler serving 14 zones of hydronic floor heating, reheat coils on three ERV's, plus an indirect fired domestic water heater.  A total of six controllers manage the fuel and power consumption for the entire project.  The key is the total comfort system:  air for humidity, ventilation, heat recovery and supplemental heat;  hot water for radiant, domestic water and fan/coils.  Over 12 separately controlled zones.

The "boiler rooms in a box" (zone control panels) are consumer friendly devices, which are distributed like appliances through reputable wholesalers and contractors throughout the world.  They are standard items in Europe, but found their way to North America a few years back.  

The highest gas bill for this home... eh, are you ready?  A whopping Ca$280.  Yep that is for a 7,200sqft home...  in Calgary, Alberta.  And they cook with gas!  Not only that, but... $60 dollars of that gas bill is service charges.  On the power side they consume about Ca$175 in the winter months, which includes outdoor lighting.  When a building is efficient, and the mechanical system is efficient, everything is smaller including fuel and power bills.


All the ductwork is sealed and/or taped, as required by Code in many municipalities today.  Incoming fresh and combusition air is insulated.  My preference would have been a shorter, more direct run, but we did not design the mechanicals.  Return air is ducted... not lined;  this is part of the air quality specification.  This (unfinished) ceiling will be T-Bar to allow for access and additions... bulkheads are framed and ready as shown.

FLIR Thermal Imaging

Equipment Room

Items 2 & 3 are ERVs;  item 4 is the boiler;  10 is the module which circulates water through the system, removes air and controls the boiler temperature;  11, 14, & 17 regulate temperature and flow going to the fan/coils, radiant systems and domestic water;  19 is a storage tank for potable water;  16 is the hot water tank;  18 is the boiler fill tank;  and 12 is the radiant manifold for the basement.  (There are a total of 12 manifolds located throughout the home)

Zone Controllers - History

During the late 70's, early 80's, a number of pre assembled "boiler rooms in a box" began to evolve from several North American innovators, including Brian Wheeldon, Ian Leedham, and Robert Bean.  While Wheeldon and Leedham were involved in contracting, Bean was involved in the design and distribution of hydronic assemblies used for radiant and solar applications.  In 1990 Bean sold his interests in the radiant/ solar design business and subsequently purchased a venture with ties to leading European manufactures who were heavily involved in district energy sub stations.  Over the course of nine years this entity along with the services of Wheeldon and Leedham developed sub stations for such award winning district energy projects as Ouje-Bougoumou and Ft. McPherson.  In 1999 Denmark's largest industrial manufacturer wished to expand its operation in Canada and acquired 100% of the shares in the Canadian business.  Between 1999 and 2005, over 8000 Danfoss ZCP's were fabricated under ISO 9001 and 14001 Certification with CETLus approval.  Realigning its core business, Danfoss returned the business to an investment partnership in 2006.

Please see the article, "To Pipe Like Michelangelo".

Single Zone Controller

This controller is fitted between any heat source and the hydronic or radiant systems.  It comes with thermostatic mixing valve, circulator pump, and optional thermostat.

Energy Recovery Ventilators

ERVs or HRVs are recommended in ICF buildings because they are so airtight;  ERVs exchange outdoor air with indoor, without loss of heat.  This gives outside fresh air indoors all the time, and can serve multiple functions as with this case study home.

This Lifebreath model comes with a heat recovery core, plus a heating coil for supplemental heat.  There are three units in all, two in this mechanical room, and one located in the second floor mechanical room. (below)  Notice the cemented/ taped duct joints, and isolation/vibration brackets for pipe and flex isolation on ducts.

Recently the homeowner cleaned the primary and secondary filters, and after two months they were virtually clean... this house has superb air quality.

This second floor mechanical room provides ventilation air, supplemental heat, and radiant heating for four zones.

Fine Workmanship!

The cable, network, and phone system.  Each of the zone controllers are accessible via the network for data logging, adjusting, and troubleshooting.

Insulated Concrete Forms

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