Ronald McDonald House

New York, New York,

Challenge

Ronald McDonald House (RMH) New York, is located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Built in 1989, the 13-story brick building provides temporary housing to as many as 84 families at a time. The heating systems that served the 70,000-sq.-ft. building were original and past their useful life.

The RMH management wanted to install an energy conserving, reliable heating system that better served children and families battling cancer while at the same time reduce operating costs. Every dollar saved on the 1.5 million BTU/hr heating utilities can directly go to supporting families in need. However, the system needed to be rock solid reliable since even the smallest down time could mean leaving these families in the cold

Solution

An Integrated solution was decided upon where a natural gas-fired Combined Heat & Power unit was installed on the roof of the 13-story building as the primary power and initial heating source. The pre-packaged unit’s generator produces 250KW of electrical power for the building and up to 1.5 million BTU/hr maximum heat output into the heating loop. 

However, to keep up with cold New York winters and to add rock solid back-up reliability, a pair of Laars NeoTherm condensing boilers were installed to provide the needed heat on the coldest days and overall system redundancy. 

A large 1.7 million BTU/hr, 95% efficient Laars NeoTherm more than matched the heat output of the CHP unit. It alone is able to condition the building regardless of the season. The second, 1.0 million BTU/hr NeoTherm boiler is in place for further peace of mind. If the CHP unit goes down for any reason, the boilers fire together, each modulating to roughly 50 percent to meet design load as well as providing snow melting of 2,200-sq.ft. of sidewalks and approach in front of the main entrance resulting in a safe walkway for patients and family.

“The role of the boilers in this situation is critical,” said Don Rathe, president of Rathe Associates, the manufacturer’s representative firm whose professionals helped to design the heating system. “In addition to carrying the heating and snowmelt loads, due to the system design, the cooling system would also go down if the boilers failed to run.

“Given the physical state of some of the children at RMH, the boilers are essential to their health and year-round comfort,” added Rathe. “This was a key reason for specification of the NeoTherm systems, we’ve found them to be extremely reliable.”

“Every part of this project has come together perfectly,” said RMH management. “This renovation means that for many years to come, the NYC facility is going to continue serving families in some of their darkest hours.