JONESBORO, AR—St. Bernards Village in Jonesboro, Arkansas is a large independent living complex run by St. Bernards Health, a Catholic health system that’s the largest in northeast Arkansas. Residents live in separate apartments, but there are common areas for dining and social activities.
For more than 20 years, Village apartments got their hot water from three boilers with six 500-gallon storage tanks. “The old system was very institutional,” says Blake Brasher from RGB Mechanical Contractors in Jonesboro, a family-owned business with 125 employees that has been serving the community for more than 40 years. “Some of the storage tanks had ruptured, so it was definitely time for an upgrade. The old boilers and tanks were so large that they had to be torched and cut apart so they could be removed from the mechanical rooms.”
It was imperative for Brasher to find a solution that would reduce the footprint of the water units, and not to disrupt any hot water service during the installation. “The first obstacle was that the building type would not allow direct replacement due to size, which is why we chose modular tankless,” says Brasher. “The second obstacle was that the building was occupied the whole time so domestic hot water could not be interrupted. We brought in rentals that were used during the demo and installation.”
“We thought that tankless units would be a good replacement choice, so we contacted State to see how many units we’d need to get the same performance,” says Brasher. As a result, RGB Mechanical installed 31 State tankless condensing units that could be rack-mounted to save space—a huge benefit due to the very tight quarters in the Village’s mechanical rooms. “We chose State because we’ve had good luck with them in the past, and because of our relationship with the local State dealer Ronald Wheeless at Midsouth Plumbing & Electric Supply,” says Brasher.
Prefabrication was a key. Because all State tankless racks are assembled and plumbed at a facility in McBee, S.C., they’re much easier to install in the field. The tankless racks also provide redundancy. If one unit goes down, the entire system doesn’t fail. Other units can carry the load until the repair is made. Similarly, if any of the units require maintenance, the system does not have to go offline.
“St. Bernards installed State’s SCT-199-N natural gas units that are factory-mounted on State’s rack system,” says Wheeless. “We used every configuration State offers–wall-mounted, freestanding and back-to-back.” The switchover to State tankless took about a month.
Since the State tankless units generate hot water on demand, the Village no longer has a need for thousands of gallons of water storage. Because the State units provide an excellent 0.93 Uniform Energy Factor (UEF), the local utility [Centerpoint Energy] was able to offer the Village a rebate of $500 per unit for installing them.
“St. Bernards Village has really benefited from the rebates, lower gas bills and great performance of the State units.” Blake Brasher, RGB Mechanical Contractors, Inc.
St. Bernards Village now gets greater hot water delivery at a lower cost. The complex paid $1,235 for water heating in August 2017 when the old equipment was still being used. In August 2018, the new State tankless units helped lower that bill to just $969. That’s a savings of more than 21%.
“Since switching to State, the complex has been very pleased with the results,” adds Brasher. “There hasn’t been a single alert on the master controllers since we installed the units. St. Bernards Village has really benefited from the rebates, lower gas bills and great performance of the State units.”