SVL Projects - Higher Education

University Educated on Daikin Rebel Comfort Control - Daikin Rebel


St. Paul, MN

General Contractor


Equipment Supplier

SVL Inc.

Installing Contractor

System Aire

Project Details

Backgroundbethel 2

Bethel University, a top-ranked, evangelical Christian university based in St. Paul, Minn., needed to replace rooftop equipment original to two nearly identical residence halls which were built in 1977 on its large St. Paul campus. “One of the driving forces to replacing the old units was trying to get better ventilation, drier air, and make it more comfortable inside the dorm rooms,” said Chuck Broz, HVAC technician supervisor at Bethel University.

The four-story Bodien Residence Hall sits on a hillside and is connected to the three-story Edgren Hall by a common student lounge in the middle of the complex. While the dorm rooms in the 52,720 sq. ft. complex are served by existing McQuay (now Daikin Applied) fan coils (many of which were replaced in the late ’90s), student life, showers, and the variable Minnesota climate meant the existing rooftop units that supply dedicated outside air had to work extra hard to keep pace.


Tim Harris, sales engineer and Daikin Applied representative with SVL, selected the highly efficient Daikin Rebel rooftop units. These allow the university to bypass using large amounts of chilled water from its central chiller plants and take advantage of Daikin’s direct expansion (DX) technology.

“One of the biggest reasons we selected the Rebel units was to get, from the DX side, significant efficiency while being able to put in the reheat air with very little moisture content,” Broz said.

The 7-ton Rebel rooftop units provide high part-load efficiencies at 20.6 IEER (Integrated Energy Efficiency Ratio) which surpasses ASHRAE’s 90.1 standard by 84%. “Rebel has some of the highest IEER ratings in the rooftop market because of the inverter compressors. In combination with the energy recovery wheels (ERW), these units are 60% more effective at removing moisture from the air,” said Matt Dodds, applications engineer at Daikin Applied. Installation of the units was phased to meet the university’s budget and tight timelines when dorms weren’t occupied. The units were installed in August 2013, August 2014, and March 2015. “Both time constraints and special contracting required the provision of adapting curbs on the roof so that existing openings could be used. Those were key challenges to the project,” Harris said.

Outcomebethel 1

Bethel University administrators and its students are pleased with the comfort levels. Broz said the difference in humidity levels across the two buildings was dramatic in the early operation of the new Rebels in one residence hall versus the other that still operated with the original rooftop equipment. “We’ve maintained everything below 55% humidity with the Rebel unit. With our existing equipment, we were well over 80% humidity throughout the building space, even with the fan coils in the dorm rooms, because various doors are left open.”

Quiet, unimpeded operation adds additional quality to the students’ studying and living conditions. Broz notes that the extremely low-audible output of the Rebel units goes unnoticed by students. “The Rebel units are very quiet due to the inverter compressor technology,” he says.

Energy savings are significant given reduced natural gas consumption with less reliance on the chiller plants that serve the complex, as well as the reduced electrical consumption of the Rebels versus existing rooftops. Notably, the ERW technology on the Rebels (which heats up outside air) provides significant energy savings especially during Minnesota’s cold winter months.

“In the winter, we’ll use Intelligent Equipment to look at the energy side to optimize use of the energy wheels, instead of using building heat, especially as it relates to the restrooms and showers. In the summer, we use Intelligent Equipment to see if we’re doing an effective job of keeping the dew point and humidity at low levels,” Broz said.

Broz values the level of detail available on Intelligent Equipment and primarily accesses the solution from his laptop at the office, with the option to access on his smartphone. He recommends Daikin for not only HVAC equipment, but also service solutions, adding, “The Daikin Service Group crew is very good and we appreciate that they call to make sure the equipment is running well.”

In addition to the existing three Rebel units, Bethel University received delivery of a 4-ton Rebel rooftop unit to serve its new, state-of-the-art Wellness Center that houses its fitness center and exercise science program, opening fall 2015.

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                      Jim Lubratt

                      President & Chief Executive Officer

                      Jim Lubratt has been president of SVL since 2006. He first joined the company as a sales engineer in 1992 and was made a partner in 2000. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Southern Methodist University and first entered the HVAC industry as a marketing engineer for a heat pump manufacturer in Texas.

                      In addition to his role at SVL, Jim is vice president of AQC Industries, LLC, a manufacturer of specialized underground ductwork systems. He is also an investor and board member for Hydromx, Inc., a manufacturer of heat transfer nanofluids, and Crotega, Inc., creators of personal and building security solutions.

                      Jim and his wife, Tracy, met in college and married in 1993. They have three children, two of whom have graduated college in Texas, while their youngest is attending Grand Canyon University in Arizona.

                      Outside of work, Jim places a priority on his faith, family, friends, and fitness. He enjoys helping people-supporting charities, time with his wife and kids, road-biking with friends and efforts to stay physically fit.

                      A message from Jim on the achievements of SVL

                      SVL started in February 1967 by Charlie Schwab and Craig Vollhaber. Schwab-Vollhaber, Inc. (as it was named at the time) steadily grew and, in 1985, welcomed Paul Lubratt as another partner, becoming Schwab-Vollhaber-Lubratt, Inc. SVL’s founders had the determination to build the most talented, customer-focused HVAC representative in the Midwest. Our original drive and passion still shape the company and culture to this day. The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined efforts of every individual. From humble beginnings, SVL founders paved the way to industry success with hard work and determination. “Today, SVL is strongly organized with great people to lead our industry forward as we are challenged with fast-paced changes to reduce our environmental impact,” says Jim. Now, 55+ years later, SVL is under the leadership of two new principals who share the same vision and drive that has propelled SVL throughout the years. Built on a foundation of integrity, Jim Lubratt, and Charlie Vollhaber strive to ensure opportunities for personal growth, improved work environment, and shared life enrichment. The achievements of our organization are the results of the combined efforts of every individual.

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                      Charlie Vollhaber

                      Executive Vice President & Officer

                      Charlie Vollhaber is a third-generation employee at SVL, as a grandson of company co-founder Craig Vollhaber and son of former CEO Todd Vollhaber. Charlie holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and an MBA, both from the University of Minnesota. He became an outside salesman for SVL in 2013, was made a partner in 2019, and then executive vice president and officer in 2022.

                      He grew up playing sports, including football, basketball, golf, and track, and enjoys the competitive nature of the HVAC industry. “I like that no two days are ever the same as there are always questions to answer and problems to solve,” he says. “Most of all, I enjoy working with great people and coordinating together on challenging projects to achieve positive results together.”

                      Outside of work, Charlie enjoys spending time with his wife, Lesley, and their three boys. He’s also fond of golfing, traveling, and attending concerts and sporting events. One of his favorite quotes is from the book of Philippians: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count other more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Because HVAC and construction is such a team effort, he says, “this mindset helps to create positive results in a vast majority of situations.”

                      A message from Charlie on the culture of SVL

                      “At SVL, we strive to cultivate a unique culture that revolves around finding and empowering exceptional individuals. We believe in equipping our team members with the right tools and resources to succeed.

                      As we’ve grown the business, we have deliberately maintained a small firm culture, fostering an environment where collaboration thrives. We encourage open dialogue and promote a sense of comfort among our employees, allowing anyone to ask questions and seek guidance from anyone else, regardless of their level within the organization.

                      We foster a workshop-like atmosphere where everyone’s contribution is valued. Presenting your work to another individual or a group of teammates provides a platform for collaboration, where ideas are shared, dissected, and improved collectively. We firmly believe in the power of mentoring and provide various avenues for both formal and informal guidance. Whether it’s through structured training programs or casual conversations, we encourage team members to discuss a wide range of topics, from work-related successes or issues to everyday personal life topics.

                      In summary, our culture is built on the foundation of attracting exceptional individuals, empowering them with the necessary tools, and fostering a collaborative environment where mentorship and growth thrive. We are committed to creating an atmosphere where every team member feels supported, valued, and encouraged to reach their fullest potential.”

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                      Al Gramse

                      Vice President of SVL Service Corporation

                      Al Gramse has been in the HVAC industry for over 30 years. He began as a service technician.  Then over his career worked in technical support, building automation, then service manager prior to his current role.

                      How did Al end up in the HVAC industry?  “After high school, I took a couple years to figure out what I wanted to do.   Where I was working at the time, a grumpy old coworker, who I didn’t get along with, walked up to me and said ‘What are you doing here?  Go back to school.’”  I said, “For what?”  He said “There’s a tech school down the street.  Go down there and pick something that interests you”. Then he walked away.  That weird interaction, with someone I didn’t get along with, sent me down a 30-year path in the HVAC industry.   Never underestimate the potential of a little encouragement.   Even if it is from a strange source.

                      Al has been with SVL for 15 years and is the head of our SVL Service division. “The people here are some of the best in the industry,” Al says. “A bunch of team-oriented, knowledgeable, go-getters.” His personal mantra is “figure it out,” “Do a little fact-finding on your own. Use your own brain before you use someone else’s. But know when to ask for help.” he prescribes. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish on your own if you dig in a little bit.”

                      Outside of work, Al has lots of outdoor hobbies, including hunting, fishing, and motorcycling, though his favorite pastime is simply hanging out with family.

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                      Jennifer Roach

                      Director of Marketing, Events & Administration

                      More than just a creative director, Jen brings 30 years of marketing and leadership magic to SVL. Her journey began in the trenches of graphic design, quickly evolving into crafting eye-catching campaigns for iconic brands like Target, Gabberts, Gander Mountain and Camping World. As a seasoned director and agency veteran, she honed her skills with recreational vehicle giant Parts Unlimited before leading creative teams at HOM Furniture and, ultimately, landing at SVL during a crucial growth phase.

                      Jen thrives on "servant-leadership," empowering her team and fostering a culture of trust and mutual respect. "It unlocks their potential, fuels creativity, and leads to work we're all proud of," she says. "I want my team to care, collaborate, and push boundaries together."

                      When not shaping impactful campaigns, Jen enjoys weekend adventures with her husband, Scott, and son, Crew. Their lives are a tapestry of shared passions, from bike rides and baking experiments to cheering on Simley High School wrestlers. And with her recently built forever home in Cottage Grove, her free time now includes a new, thrilling chapter: weekend renovation warrior!

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