Argos Inn, Ithaca, NY

The Argos Inn is a 9,700 SF inn in downtown Ithaca NY. The historic building, formerly known as the McCormick-Cowdry House, is a renovated 18th century former mansion, and one of the oldest buildings in the East Hill District. It houses 10 distinctly individual guest rooms, bar and lounge.

A lot of the unique character of the building comes from its integration of modern elements into the building while maintaining many of the historic details. This caused some issues that we discovered during commissioning, for example when the extensive sanding required to refinish the hardwood floors accumulated in the air handling units or when we found that some of the in room heat pumps had decorative casings installed that obstructing flow through the units.

The building is heated and cooled by a geothermal heat pump system, and local controls are through Nest thermostats. Lighting controls were not installed as the base lighting (primarily architectural LEDs) was efficient enough that lighting controls could not provide cost effective energy savings.

Select Commissioning Discoveries

Geothermal Heat Pump System

Air in the system:

Early in the construction process the owner raised concerns about air in the system (stemming from observations of bubbles in the clear pex tubing and certain heat pumps that consistently underperformed). Taitem investigated and discovered that the system had been installed without an air separator. After discussions with the owner and contractor it was decided to install in line spirovents and an expansion tank to remove the air from the system. Taitem attended the training session where a process for flushing air from the system was demonstrated and followed up with the contractor to resolve some of the owner’s ongoing questions. Final confirmation that this issue had been resolved was received from the contractor on 12/19/13.

Training and Troubleshooting

Taitem was present for the heat pump operation and troubleshooting training provided by the mechanical contractor. As part of our commissioning role Taitem recorded the training and took notes that we later provided to the owner. The owner’s representative who attended the training is no longer with the project and the video and notes have become the primary resource for passing this training on to the current maintenance staff.

Third Floor Boiler System

While testing the third floor boiler system Taitem noted several significant issues. The biggest issue was that the unit had been installed without a method of draining condensate from the exhaust flue. This voids the unit warranty but is also likely doing some damage to the unit as the condensate is draining back into the unit. Other issues noted include the omission of a pressure relief valve on the domestic hot water distribution, which can be a safety concern, and high temperature domestic hot water, which is a scalding concern. These findings were noted to the owner with suggested resolutions.

Visit the Argos Inn website, or check out the architects page for more pictures and additional information.