Luxury Resort on U.S. Mainland Selects VRF Zoning Systems For Quietness, Size and Comfort
A AAA Five-Diamond destination situated on 504 acres high above the Pacific Ocean in Southern California’s chic Newport Coast, Pelican Hill has earned acclaim in Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report “500 Favorite Hotels in the World™” (2011), as Condé Nast Traveler’s #1 California Golf Resort (2011) and as #22 among the “Top 100 Best in the World” (2010 Readers’ Choice Awards). Travel + Leisure also ranked Pelican Hill among its “500 World’s Best Hotels” (2011).
Drawing architectural inspiration from 16th century Venetian architect Andrea Palladio, Pelican Hill features 128 two-, three- and four-bedroom luxury villas with unobstructed ocean views; 204 luxuriously appointed bungalow suites with ocean-view terraces; a magnificent Forbes Five-Star spa with an iconic “Coliseum Pool,” one of the largest circular swimming pools in the world (136 feet across) with tiered decks and luxurious cabanas; fine dining at Andrea Ristorante and casual dining at the Pelican Grill; and the Pelican Hill Golf Club, with 36 dramatic holes designed by Tom Fazio, nearly all with ocean panoramas.
The Irvine Ranch: Colorful California History
A steward of some of America’s most pristine coastline and scientifically important open space, the Irvine Company, Newport Beach, Calif., dates back to 1864, when James Irvine and two partners purchased 120,000 acres assembled through Mexican and Spanish land grants to form The Irvine Ranch®. For 70 years the Ranch was home to orchards, grazing cattle and agriculture. That all began to change as urbanization moved rapidly south from Los Angeles County during the early 1960s.
Today, the Irvine Company is an internationally renowned real estate development company known for its award-winning, master-planned communities, its vast portfolio of high-quality investment properties and its leadership in conservation and natural resource management. The company’s real estate portfolio encompasses office, apartment, retail and resort holdings throughout California’s premier markets.
Pelican Hill: Irvine Company’s Jewel on the Crown
Over the past 30 years, the Irvine Company has donated 50,000 acres of land to Orange County, Calif., to be used for parks, greenways, recreation and wilderness preserves. More than half of the historic ranch property itself has been designated as the Irvine Ranch National Natural Landmark. Keenly aware of its miles of immaculate coastline and legacy of sustainability, Irvine withheld the last 504 acres for a final masterpiece of lush landscaping, urban planning and the latest in hospitality design.
It took Irvine Company many years to complete its seaside “Tuscan Village” resort destination. Officially opened in November 2008, Pelican Hill today is a sanctuary of beauty, quality and sophistication. Its thoughtful design and planning have established a whole new standard for a resort guest experience.
America’s Most Demanding Codes for Noise Abatement
Newport Beach’s exacting building regulations are recognized throughout California. Newport inspectors are especially fond of scrutinizing a builder’s plans for outdoor air-conditioning units. This is particularly significant for the size, height and amount of noise and room the specified condensers will occupy. As one inspector put it, “We’ll not allow a whole ‘farm’ of outdoor chillers, and the smaller the footprint the better.” He said that Newport and Beverly Hills are recognized as having the most demanding codes for noise restrictions in the U.S.
For engineering solutions, the Irvine Company planners had often turned to the mechanical engineers of Tsuchiyama Kaino Sun & Carter (TKSC), Irvine, Calif. Will Ha was a mechanical engineer assigned to work under partner Roger Carter (the “C” in TKSC). Before permits could be obtained for the hundreds of guest rooms, suites and villas, golf clubhouses, event center/hotel or spas, one of the most pressing questions for Irvine Company engineers was how to comply with the tough Newport Beach codes and regulations.
Ha recalls that the design team transformed an old Irvine Company warehouse into a test center on the Pelican Hill property. The team then built an actual model villa inside the warehouse to test and determine the best solution for air-conditioning size, noise and zone controls. Various split-system models were tested to see if they would meet Newport’s exacting codes.
Introducing VRF Zoning Systems from Mitsubishi Electric
It was during this testing period that Ha met Robert “Bobby” Hahn, president of Pacific Systems Group, Inc., Torrance, Calif. A West Coast independent rep for Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating, Suwanee, Ga., Hahn had heard about plans for Pelican Hill and paid a visit to the model test home. At that time, Mitsubishi Electric had recently introduced to the U.S. market a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) zoning technology that had been a big success in Europe and Asia for decades. Hahn was eager to see if this Mitsubishi Electric technology might be the right problem-solver for Pelican Hill’s needs.
Hahn explained to the Irvine Company and TKSC engineers why Mitsubishi Electric VRF zoning systems would help meet the Newport codes. He demonstrated how the super quiet, high-performance heat pumps have one of the smallest footprints available. He showed how these could be placed in landscaped courtyards immediately adjacent to homes and resort buildings without being seen or heard.
Hahn went on to explain that these VRF zoning systems were the first two-pipe, simultaneous cooling and heating systems available in the U.S. This meant far less labor and equipment costs than conventional HVAC equipment. Unlike most industry single-split systems (one outdoor unit to one indoor fan coil), a single Mitsubishi Electric outdoor unit can cool or heat up to 50 zones — eliminating the Newport dislike for outdoor compressor “farms.” As a key benefit for resort demands, Hahn explained that the indoor units operate as low as 24 dB(A) (the same noise level as a human whisper), and the outdoor units as low as 58 dB(A), so quiet that one doesn’t know they are actually in operation.
Perfect Solution for Newport’s Strict Noise and Space Requirements
The mechanical teams from the Irvine Company and TKSC were curious about this new HVAC option. They wanted to witness firsthand an actual VRF zoning installation to see and listen for themselves. Hahn contacted the local Mitsubishi Electric West Coast sales office. He was told that there was a recent installation at a Portland, Ore., elementary school that would honestly demonstrate true sound levels from four new R2-Series units — the R2-Series (heat recovery) units can simultaneously cool and heat different zones within a building. Mitsubishi Electric offered to fly the team to Portland for a live demonstration.
Doubtful that Mitsubishi Electric’s noise-level claims were accurate, Irvine Company engineers brought a sound consultant with them on the test trip to Portland. The consultant tested the first unit and measured 53 dB(A). “Have these compressors been specially altered for this group?” he asked. The school assured him that the four R2-Series outdoor units were installed just as they arrived in their boxes from the factory in Japan. The sound consultant continued his testing and was amazed to find that the next three units hovered between 53 and 58 decibels. The only distinct noise his earphones picked up was the sound of a child bouncing a basketball on the pavement 50 yards away.
That sound test in Portland sealed the largest sale of Mitsubishi Electric VRF zoning equipment in the United States to date — close to $3 million.
Quietness, Quality and Size Meet World-class Elegance
Besides the superb quietness of the units, Ha said the other determining factor for the engineers was the size of the outdoor units: sufficiently compact to be tucked discreetly away behind landscaped walls and terraces. The HVAC systems on the Pelican Hill property are seamlessly out of sight — a distinctive benefit made possible by the fact that a single outdoor unit can serve up to 50 indoor units, thereby reducing the number of outdoor units required.
“By design, most of the residential units sit high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the hills of Catalina Island,” Ha said. “Elegance is the word that most comes to mind when a visitor climbs the Tuscan-like hills to the clubhouses, spa, event center, hotel, villas and bungalows.
This Mitsubishi Electric VRF zoning system is a perfect complement for the spectacular facilities of this world-class resort. One is not aware they are even operating.”