Compact Heating System Complements Award-Wining Modular Construction

Cambridge, Massachusetts is no stranger to innovative ideas. But even in a city renowned for its forward thinking, the residential andcommercial complex at 603 Concord Avenue stands out. Built in units designed and fabricated by AbodeZ, an integrated development company specializing in modular construction, 603 Concord is the first project in the commonwealth to stack modules five stories high. Its 61 residential units and three ground floor retail spaces make a colorful aesthetic statement as powerful as its design is innovative. Projected to be open in May 2015,  603 Concord has been honored with the 2014 Professional Builder Design Award in the category of Systems-Built/Modular.

AbodeZ’s principal of design and construction, Kin Lau, faced a critical choice regarding heating and hot water for his modules: build self-contained systems for each unit, or create a centralized system that could serve them all. “If a unit’s heat or hot water fails, it’s a critical failure,” Lau says. “With a centralized plant, we could put boilers in a series; if one fails, there’s another to back it up immediately. By going centralized, we’re delivering better comfort and value for the building.”

Lau’s design incorporates three Vitodens 200 condensing boilers to provide heat and hot water, which is included in the rent. High-velocity air handlers in each unit give residents control over their comfort.

The boiler room, like the residential units, was built as a module as well. Viessmann technology made it simple. Bill Mower of Avila Plumbing & Heating supervised the construction. “Viessmann’s rack system saved a ton of labor,” he explains. “Your header, your primary loop—it’s all set up.” Mower’s team assembled the system in the shop in just three days. “We built it on a flat steel plate with castors,” he says. “When we were ready, we trucked it to the site and just rolled it into the boiler room.” On site hook-up with venting took just another two weeks to complete.

Bob Avila, president of Avila Plumbing & Heating, notes, “In our business, we put in a million different boilers. These [at 603 Concord] were easy to program, and everyone at Viessmann was very helpful. Everything went well with no hiccups.”

“At AbodeZ,” concludes Lau, “we develop projects that are good for the environment and comfortable to residents. Viessmann was able to contribute a quality product and make it competitive.”