In cold, remote Alps, heating engineer wants reliability

Overview_TEXT

Overview

Johannes Widmoser rides a gondola lift up a snowy mountain blanketed with fog. He has been in the office all afternoon, and now he’s going to visit one of his success stories. It is late afternoon at the Waidring-Steinplatte ski resort in Tyrol, Austria. The fog and ice reduce visibility to almost nothing outside the cable car’s windows.


“The view is great when the weather is good,” he says, pointing out the window to the landscape he cannot see. “There’s Pillersee Lake, and the Loferer Mountain Range is over there.” The car is silent, then chu-gu-chu-gu-chu-gu-chu-gu, as its connecting cable runs past the wheels of a support tower.


Johannes Widmoser, consulting engineer for Energietechnik GmbH, designs heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for customers spread around this part of the Alps. Their buildings are not always accessible, and many of them survive on tourism. That affects Johannes’s decision when he specifies system components like pumps.


“High value is placed on quality,” he says. “On the one hand, on reliability. And on the other hand, on saving energy.”


He is on his way now to visit a building whose heating system he designed in 2014: Panorama Tenne, an après ski bar for 220 people on Steinplatte Mountain.


The lift car reaches the top and Johannes exits, moving past skiers and a red digital display showing -9°C. He flips up parka hood and
tramps uphill quickly through the snow. A wooden lodge appears in the fog, warm light glowing from its windows. He enters with a flourish, greeting the personnel behind the bar and spreading his arms out wide.


“This is Panorama Tenne,” he says with a big smile. “Nice and warm.”

 

Heating needs to work flawlessly

Johannes gives a quick tour of the open rooms, the fireplace, couches, sitting areas and the bar. The huge windows – which usually look out to dramatic mountain vistas – now look out to a darkening, bluish sky. “This building is in a high-alpine location. It’s difficult to come up here in the winter with equipment and conduct repairs. The heating needs to work flawlessly at all times.”


He descends stairs into the basement, past towers of beer kegs and soda, into the mechanical room. A gas-fired boiler and hot water tank occupy one wall, a string of red pumps along another – Grundfos ALPHA1, ALPHA3, MAGNA3 and UPS. These units circulate heat for the underfloor heating, radiators and hot water. 


“As a new building, it was designed to ensure the lowest possible energy expenditure with the latest pumps, such as the MAGNA3 and the ALPHA3,” he says.


Back upstairs, Johannes greets one of the ski resort’s owners, Andreas Grünbacher.


“For us, what’s most important is that guests feel at home here,” Andreas says. “That the atmosphere is pleasant and the indoor temperature is right. The heating system is the most important factor. It must heat correctly when temperatures are at minus 10 or plus 10. And it’s important that the pumps save energy, too, without breaking down. If something fails, then all this does us no good anyway.”


Johannes walks outside into the icy-cold evening. The fog has lifted, revealing a mountain range in the distance. “We should not generate energy we don’t need. “As an individual, as a company and as a society, it’s very important to think about the environment and save energy. Saving energy without any loss in comfort is very important.”





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Topic:

Underfloor heating, radiators and hot water in commercial building

Location:

Panorama Tenne, Waidring-Steinplatte ski resort, Austria

Company:

Energietechnik GmbH

HVAC installation

“As a new building, it was designed to ensure the lowest possible energy expenditure with the latest pumps, such as the MAGNA3 and the ALPHA3,”

says Johannes Widmoser of Energietechnik GmbH.

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