There was a time in Buffalo when we were producing revolutionary products and ideas that helped fuel the growth of America. The grain elevator by Joseph Dart and the eventual evolution of the building type that would go on to inspire architects of the Modernism movement; the forerunner of the modern day air conditioning system developed by Carrier; the windshield wiper, the pacemaker, more recently, a new cancer vaccine and so much more. Although we have not been able to match the strength of those days in last few decades, we are still producing some revolutionary ideas and inventions.
Modular Radiant Technologies, LLC (MRT) is one example of a Buffalo business in the new century that is creating a unique and revolutionary product. MRT produces a radiant heat product that is far superior to traditional forced air and other radiant heat systems. The product was invented by the company's CEO, Gary Hydock.
MRT is based on the east side at 980 Northampton Street, their product is made from post consumer recycled materials, and the majority of the components required to create their product are sourced locally. They currently have 90 projects under their belt in the seven counties surrounding Buffalo.
In a traditional radiant heating system, the pex tubing is put down and secured and then gypsum concrete is poured over the entire floor plate. The problem with that model includes moisture release into the existing structure (future mold issues), the weight of the wet gypcrete (22 lbs. sq. ft. wet, 15 lbs. sq. ft. dry) and that if something breaks or needs to be serviced, a jackhammer would be required to remove the gypcrete and repair the problem. The MRT system can be easily serviced if anything goes wrong because of its modularity but so far they have a 0% failure rate. Additionally, the weight of the product Modular Radiant Technologies produces is only 8 pounds per square and requires no structural modification to the building to install it.
When compared to traditional forced air systems, the Modular Radiant system results in better indoor air quality, a higher level of comfort, no dust, and is typically less than half the cost to operate of a forced air system. Now combine that the high efficiency boiler they offer and it's a no brainer to go with their system for a new build or adaptive reuse project. The boiler they offer can operate on nine different energy sources including alternative energy like windmill or solar or geothermal.
The plastic trays that form the base of their panel is made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic that is produced in Holland, NY and was designed by the Buffalo Polymer. The cement comes from Holcim Cement on Route 5 and the Norlite, which is a lightweight aggregate, comes from Albany. The end product often incorporates Styrofoam and carbon activated material as well as other recycled materials which would typically end up in a landfill instead of being recycled and repurposed.
The rehabilitation of the bed and breakfast on Wadsworth that was recently profiled on Buffalo Rising included the MRT product in their design. At the peak of the winter season, the owner had a gas bill of about $1100 a month, which on average floated around $650. After installing the radiant heat system by MRT, the average monthly bills dropped to $288.
Hopefully we will begin to see more projects incorporating green technologies such as this. In Europe, 87% of their building stock is heated with a radiant heat system, but less than 3% of all buildings in America utilize the system. We rely on traditional forced air more often than not. Using the MRT products means a better indoor environment, utilities savings, and supporting a local company that sources much of their components from other local and New York State companies.
Entry Image: Modular Radiant installation before floor covering has been added