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System M Makes Energy-Efficiency Work for Wichita Business

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System M Makes Energy-Efficiency Work for Wichita Business.


Wichita Business Works for Energy Efficiency with System M

John Vastyan

There’s a 68-year-old home in suburban Wichita, KS that’s a lot younger than it looks. The mid-60s, mostly-brick ranch home began to be an eyesore in the neighborhood. That is, until one of the city’s visionaries had an inspiration.

Certified Passive House Consultant and builder, Jeff Jones – president and owner TRU-Building, Inc. (TRU), based in Wichita – is one of the Midwest’s leading energy efficiency- and sustainability-focused construction experts. The portfolio of energy efficient homes confirms the innovative passion he and his team embrace.

TRU-Building needed a new headquarters for the growing team to call home. Jones had already acquired a property and completed architectural planning to build a facility when the old home and property, just half a mile from their existing building, came to his attention.

Jones learned that the old home down the road had been vacant for almost a decade. Yet, he saw that it was an ideal opportunity to showcase the capabilities of his firm. It offered great potential as the ultimate expression of sustainability.

The six-month renovation began in August 2022, resulting in an all-new appearance and expansion from 2,700 square feet of residential space to 3,200 square feet now repurposed for commercial use.

The biggest surprise of all came a few weeks later when Jones took a call from a friend and business colleague, Jeremy Hobbs, branch manager of the manufacturer’s rep firm, J. M. O’Conner, with offices in Wichita and Kansas City. Hobbs and his team were attending a presentation by Taco Comfort Solutions. He spoke about Taco’s latest technology, System M, an innovative air-to-water heat pump system that provides comfortable, efficient heating, cooling, and domestic hot water. “It’s a fully-packaged system that’s super easy to install, and over 400 percent efficient,” explained Brice Walsten, O’Connor’s outside sales engineer.

Before the call ended, Jones agreed that the appliance would be perfect for the new building as he could see how System M could be a focal point to showcase TRU-Building’s emphasis on energy efficiency, sustainability and electrification.

How it Happened

We gladly walk the walk to demonstrate what we mean by our actions, rather than by what we say,” he quipped.

The renovations at 101 N. Ridge Road, Wichita are now complete and Taco’s System M has since fulfilled its expectations, too. “We’re well into our first year of super-efficient comfort,” said Jones. “The staff loves our new home; we couldn’t be more pleased with every aspect of the new facility – from its higher-visibility location and enlarged space, to the coziness and efficiency of the system that now maintains our comfort.”

Hearing this from Jones isn’t idle talk. He and his staff are immersed in the business as a long-standing partner with the U.S. Department of Energy on the Zero Energy Ready Home program. Jones is also the only Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) in the state of Kansas.

The company also holds a position at the leading edge of a growing trend toward the type of ultra-efficient buildings and homes that Jones long ago predicted to be the next, big construction and renovation wave in the Midwest. It’s come to pass.

Though headquartered in Wichita, the company also has an office in Muncie, IN. Professionals at both locations focus on higher-end, innovative commercial and residential construction and renovation.

Our business pros have found that the topic of energy efficiency is a bit like a bell curve,” explained TRU-Building Brand Ambassador, Janie Moore. “Initially, people did not have the information to fully understand the additional cost of energy-efficient building. With energy prices continuing to rise, the government and DOE have begun to speak loudly in favor of improving energy efficiency while offering incentives for it.

Our customers quickly learn the various interconnected facets of every building envelope component – from insulation and windows, to siding and HVAC,” she explained.

According to Moore, home and business owners alike are now far more receptive to conversations about energy efficient construction and energy renovations – much like the work TRU-Building did at their own facility.

Building energy-efficient homes offers a multitude of advantages that extend beyond just lowering energy bills,” added Moore. She continued, “Improved insulation, energy-efficient appliances and smart technologies ensure optimal comfort year-round, with stable indoor temperatures and exceptional indoor air quality. Also, energy-efficient homes tend to hold their value better over time while also attracting environmentally-conscious buyers. By embracing these construction practices, homeowners contribute to a more sustainable future while enjoying long-term cost savings and improved living standards.”

The crown jewel: System M

Invariably, every tour of TRU-Building’s new facility makes a stop in “the cave,” the comfortable sitting area located in the lower level. “That’s where visitors and prospective customers find a source of real intrigue,” explained Dave Trotter, Taco’s regional manager of wholesale products.

One of those most intrigued with the System M’s capabilities was Chris Highfill, owner of Wichita-based Frederick Plumbing, Heating and Air.

Highfill explained that System M is an ideal solution for home and business owners seeking an exceptionally versatile, high-efficiency hydronic heating and cooling system – with the added benefit of providing domestic water heat.

Taco’s air-to-water heat pump system is a complete, integrated heating, cooling, and domestic hot water solution,” agreed J. M. O’Connor’s Walsten. “The technology provides up to 44,000 BTUh and 3½ tons of cooling.”

Out of the box, System M is solar PV and smart grid ready,” he added. “Water is the most efficient and natural energy transfer medium on the planet. In a nutshell, it’s everything most homeowners need for heating and cooling – and it heats domestic water, too.”

There are so many uses for the technology, from radiant heat to low-temp baseboard and panels, to radiant cooling,” continued Highfill. “My impression with this first experience with it is that it’s built for the long haul, is solid, and has so much going for it in its ability to provide super-high-efficiency comfort.”

System M is an ideal fit for the type of people who’re naturally drawn to TRU-Building – and, among them, a high percentage of Net Zero’ers,” added Walsten. “They’re the early adopters, folks who’ve devoted their dollars to achieving higher efficiency and sustainability.”

We’re very pleased with System M’s performance and efficiency,” added Jones. “We had a long string of hot days in July, each of them over 100 degrees consecutively. The heat pump’s comfort was ideal.

It helps to protect our bottom line because of its energy efficiency, and we also appreciate that it’s a fully-packaged unit – not a bunch of parts and pieces assembled here with the hope of performance,” he added.

John Vastyan is CEO of Common Ground, a trade communications firm based in Manheim, PA.


System M, is an air-to-water heat pump system that provides comfortable, efficient heating, cooling, and domestic hot water. It’s a fully-packaged system. (Courtesy photo)

TRU-Building new headquarters incorporated energy efficiency through the installation of a Taco System M heat pump system. (Courtesy photo)

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