When a group of former Carrier executives was looking for help with the cost of independent testing to get a newly patented, energy-efficient commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to market, it turned to the SyracuseCoE for help.
“We were just a few guys with big ideas about how this invention could change the industry,” recalls John A. DiMillo, vice president of NuClimate. “But we were promoting a very energy-efficient product and SyracuseCoE believed in us.”
NuClimate was awarded a $50,000 grant through the SyracuseCoE’s Commerialization Assistance Program, and in 2003, the small company manufactured 40 of its chilled beam units. By 2012, production was up to 10,000 annually, with sales in seven states. That number could soon expand dramatically.
NuClimate recently signed an exclusive agreement with Carrier Corp., which will now sell the NuClimate chilled beam through its worldwide distribution channels with the Carrier name on it.
According to DiMillo, SyracuseCoE has been an essential partner in that achievement. “When we were looking to vertically integrate our manufacturing, they put us in touch with the expertise that could help us do that. When we were looking for investment dollars, they brought us equity investors. Every time we ask for assistance, they deliver,” he says.
From the start, SyracuseCoE provided the support that allowed NuClimate to be viewed as an advantageous HVAC technology by engineers, architects, and contractors throughout New York State. Perhaps the most valuable connection was made when SyracuseCoE brought NuClimate to a NYE-RIC Bridges to Markets meeting, which resulted in an order from the New York City Schools for several thousand units over a five-year period for a series of major public school renovations.
NuClimate has also outfitted 55 school buildings in greater Boston, and will be supplying systems for renovated public school buildings in Syracuse, which began with the Fowler High School renovation. The NuClimate chilled beam provides an alternative to a standard fan coil or variable air volume (VAV) system, which is found in about 80 percent of commercial buildings in the United States. A conventional system mixes fresh outside air with re-circulated building air, which then is heated or cooled and blown through air ducts into a building’s rooms.
The chilled beam works on the theory of energy induction and is incorporated with a building ’s water system. The unit takes outside air, sends it through a series of nozzles that increases its velocity, and blows that air on one side of a coil hooked to the water system. Water temperature determines heating or cooling. The unit requires no electrical power, no compressor, and no fan motor, resulting in energy savings of up to 25 percent, better air quality, quieter operation, and lower maintenance costs.
“This is the right time for our product,” says DiMillo. “When we started, nobody was evaluating systems on payback. Today, return on investment is everything. Every building in America is analyzed for energy consumption 20 years in the future. It was not easy early on, but SyracuseCoE stuck with us.”