Industry Partners Innovation: NuClimate – Cool Savings For High-Rise Hotels

In the early 2000s, NuClimate Air Quality Systems worked with SyracuseCoE to develop an innovative chilled-beam technology for providing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for commercial buildings such as schools and hospitals. As a member of the SyracuseCoE Partner Program they received a $50,000 award from SyracuseCoE’s Commercialization Assistance Program (CAP) enabling the company to achieve its first sales in 2005. Subsequently, NuClimate signed an exclusive deal with Carrier to sell its chilled beam worldwide with the Carrier name on it. Now the company has developed a new vertical stack fan coil unit that reduces energy consumption for air circulation to less than 20 watts, substantially lower than anything currently available on the market.

Two years ago, NuClimate was approached by an international hotel chain looking to reduce energy costs by replacing aging HVAC units in each high-rise hotel room. The old units consumed 300 to 350 watts to operate the fan. While current equipment on the market uses an average of 80 to 85 watts to operate the fan, the chain wanted NuClimate to improve that by 20 percent or more. NuClimate focused on the specific need and challenge of providing comfortable climate in individual high-rise hotel rooms, developing an oversized coil and employing a fan not used in fancoil systems today. The result: a unit that consumes an average of 16.6 watts to heat or cool the room that it’s in, performance that was verified by UL testing conducted with funding from a competitive award from SyracuseCoE’s Innovation Fund.

“We customized it specifically for the hotel marketplace and for the desire to save energy,” says John DiMillo, vice president of NuClimate. “The drawback is that the per-unit cost is higher, but the return on investment in energy savings is very desirable.” The system is particularly attractive for use in cities with high per-kilowatt energy costs, such as New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago. A prototype of the new system was installed in one of the hotel chain’s premier New York City locations, where it has been running for the past year. NuClimate plans to sell the product across the entire hotel marketplace.

“We think this is a revolutionary new product,” says DiMillo, who anticipates the company could be building 50,000 to 60,000 units once the product launches. He says SyracuseCoE shares a big part of that success story. “Whether it’s funding, or engineering assistance, or networking, they continue to be an unbelievable asset,” DiMillo says. “Any time we call, they come through for us.”