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Spotlight on variable refrigerant flow zoning technology



Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning technology is transforming the way commercial buildings are cooled and heated. This smart, energy-efficient, and fully customizable HVAC technology not only provides comfortable air to occupants, but also opens design possibilities for architects and maximizes profitability for building owners. Mitsubishi Electric is leading the HVAC industry with its advanced VRF zoning solutions as America’s #1 selling brand in this market.


According to Paul Doppel, Senior Director, Industry & Government Relations for Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating, one of the biggest complaints about offices, schools, or medical buildings is that they are too hot or too cold. Because traditional boiler and chiller systems heat or cool air at a central location and then move it through the building, they expend a lot of energy and cannot customize space temperature effectively. They can also be massive in size, requiring significant space to accommodate an equipment room and ductwork, as well as adding tonnage to the building.

“Mitsubishi Electric’s VRF zoning systems are significantly smaller and can be placed strategically throughout the building, delivering refrigerant directly to the zone where it is needed so no energy is lost,” explains Doppel. “It features INVERTER compressor technology, which ramps up quickly to achieve setpoint temperature and then varies its speed to maintain the desired temperature, rather than simple on/off operation. The systems perform at the minimum energy level necessary to maintain desired space temperature, minimizing wasted energy when partial load conditions are present, which is 97% of the time on average.” Another big plus: these systems offer superb quiet operation.


For architects, designing a building with a Mitsubishi Electric VRF zoning system means the plans will not need to accommodate heavy equipment and large ceiling spaces for ducts. This reduces the load-bearing requirements and height needed for each floor. For existing buildings, VRF zoning systems provide installation flexibility to meet space constraints and minimally impact the structure.

For building owners, reducing the amount of ceiling space needed for ductwork in a new building means either more height for each floor or potentially adding more floors for additional revenue-generating tenants. And keeping those tenants happy with quiet, comfortable air will help keep spaces filled. Not to mention, the energy efficiency of Mitsubishi Electric’s VRF zoning systems results in lower energy bills.

A Boutique Hotel in Los Angeles

In 2011, real estate developers Michael Orwitz, Spence Mitchum, and Justin Khorvash transformed a dilapidated 1950s medical building into a Four Diamond boutique hotel, the Hotel Wilshire, with sustainability in mind. Mitchum had experience using Mitsubishi Electric’s VRF zoning system and knew the system’s flexibility, performance, and efficiency made it a perfect fit. The smaller, lighter-weight system worked well with the building’s space restrictions, and a year after opening, the hotel boasted 17% less energy use and a LEED Silver certification.

New Headquarters in Wisconsin

Franklin Energy Services, LLC, of Port Washington, Wisconsin, creates energy efficiency programs for commercial, industrial, agricultural, and residential clients. When its headquarters moved into a historic structure in 2011, the company chose a Mitsubishi Electric VRF zoning system for its efficiency, ease of installation, individual comfort control, and quiet operation.

As a result, Franklin Energy has documented 32% electric energy savings and 48% gas energy savings when compared to the average Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) energy usage for a building its size. CEO Paul Schueller reports that the system has been a lifesaver for individual comfort, keeping the perimeter offices in the old building comfortable all year.

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Phone: 800.433.4822

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