Vent-Free Gas Appliances in High-Rise Condos PDF Print E-mail

When codes change, new and exciting opportunities occur.  

Now that the Uniform Mechanical Code allows for the installation of vent-free gas appliances, an increasing number of vent-free gas fireplaces are finding their way into high-rise condominiums in cities such as Las Vegas and Chicago.

Everyone knows Las Vegas as the city of lights, warm weather, and winners! And now, vent-free gas appliances are coming out a winner as well.

In 2006, Southwest Gas, which supplies natural gas for Arizona, Nevada, and California, hooked-up more than 71,000 new homes, giving it the title of one of the fastest-growing gas utilities in the nation. With its assistance that year, the Vent-Free Gas Products Alliance met with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) chapter in Las Vegas and exhibited at the Las Vegas Building Expo. After that, builders started asking for vent-free units since there are no other methods of venting gas fireplaces in high-rises.

A case in point is the One Queensridge Place condominium project, which consists of two, 18-story towers totaling 219 units. Christian LeCates, president of Custom Hearth, and Yohan Lowie, president of Executive Home Builders, worked with Tommy Gugino, inspection supervisor for the City of Las Vegas, to obtain permits to install vent-free products in the units.

Because Las Vegas had not yet adopted the Uniform Mechanical Code, Gugino had to go through an appeals to allow for the vent-free units to be installed. Staff members at the Vent-Free Gas Products Alliance were closely involved, making sure that Gugino had all the correct code and product information he needed. The permits were approved and the project is now complete. More than 40 floor plans are available, from 2,000 square-feet to over 14,000 square-feet, all offering luxury amenities. Each unit’s great room features a variable flame vent-free fireplace that burns 25,000 to 32,000 Btuh.

Following the success of One Queensridge Place, WestMark Homes installed 32,000 Btuh vent-free fireplaces in the units of its Mira Villa Condos, a luxury mid-rise development featuring 4,000-square-foot suites priced from $900,000 to more than $1 million. Both developments are located on Canyon Run Drive in the Summerlin area, developed by The Howard Hughes Corporation.

In the Midwest, the vent-free trump card is being played in Chicago, where vent-free gas fireplaces have been going into refurbished downtown loft apartments since Chicago approved vent-free appliances in the mid-1990s. Property management firms have been extremely satisfied with the ability to offer tenants vent-free fireplaces, which enhance the beauty and value of the living spaces.

As in Las Vegas, once the first high-profile project featuring vent-free fireplaces got off the ground, other developers followed suit. In Chicago, several new high-rise hotel and residential developments are poised to include vent-free fireplaces within the next few years.

For more information on vent-free technology, safety, code adoptions, technical research, consumer publications, and a list of members of the Vent-Free Gas Products Alliance, go to www.ventfree.org.