Courthouse HVAC options
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By Carmen Ensinger
More good news for Greene County and its new proposed HVAC system. After receiving a U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities grant in the amount of $191,000, the County also learned that they will be able to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to take care of the remainder of the cost of the system, which means the county can take the funds it had set back for the system and put it towards other needed projects.
According to Greene County Treasurer Kirby Ballard, Greene County is slated to receive a total of $2.4 million from ARPA, which is based on a county’s population.
“We received half of the money, $1.2 million in May, and the other half is expected to come in next May or June,” Ballard said. “We have until December of 2023 to spend the money.”
Of the $1.9 trillion in funding appropriated for this program, Congress has allotted $350 billion of these funds to thousands of eligible state, local territorial and Tribal governments. Broken down further, $195.3 billion of these funds have been allotted for states and the District of Columbia; $65.1 Billion for counties and $45.6 billion for metropolitan cities.
Other counties receiving funding include: Jersey, $4,229,150; Calhoun, 920495; Scott, $961,674; Pike, $3,022,542; Macoupin, $8,726,349; Madison, $51,078,063 and Morgan, $6,537,672.
The county employed the firm of Bellweather to research the projects they would like to use to use the ARPA money for and see if they qualify under the guidelines specified for the use of the money.
Ballard said the good news was that, now, after the rules were changed in the middle of the game, the HVAC unit now qualifies under the rules.
“When the rules first came out, you could not do any projects that were being funded by any other grants,” Ballard said. “Now, It appears that ARPA money can be used for out matching money so we can go for the more expensive system if you choose to.”
Several months ago, the county hired John A. Shortal, Architect, Ltd. to do a HVAC study on the courthouse and develop three different prices on systems for the courthouse.
Shortal first assessed the courthouse determining there was approximately 20,000 square feet to be heated and cooled – 7,500 on the first and second floors and 5,000 on the basement level.
The current heating and cooling system is a two-pipe hot and chilled water mechanical system which was installed in 1977. This system has a changeover feature that requires that the building is either heating or cooling. Many of the fan coil units in the basement level are no longer operational and have been stripped of their components to fix the fan coil units on the upper floors and many of the fan coil units on the upper floors do not work properly.
The fan coil units are supplied with hot or chilled water depending on the season. The water piping serving the fan coil units has exceeded its life expectancy. The piping is experiencing multiple pipe leaks and needs to be replaced.
The existing electrical system was upgraded in 1977 when the mechanical system was installed and it has adequate capacity to renovate the mechanical system. No problems were noted in the existing electrical system.
Shortal determined after his inspection that the existing mechanical system has exceeded its life expectancy. The base equipment, including the boiler, air condensing unit, chiller, fan coils and piping all needs to be replaced.
The first of the three options Shortal gave was the most expensive of the three at a cost of $715,000. This option would provide a new two-pipe hot and chilled water mechanical system. This option would be identical to the system that presently serves the courthouse.
Apparently, Shortal was not a fan of installing this system per the following notation:
“The office holders will continue to be uncomfortable as you ‘changeover’ from the heating and cooling seasons. This option has the issue of installing the new system while the old system is still in operation for courthouse occupancy. Multiple phases of construction will have to be considered during the design phase. This increases the duration of the project, thus having more man hours to complete. The estimated cost reflects such factors.”
The second option, which the board had initially considered would cost $570,000.
This option would provide a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system. This system consists of outdoor units (4 to 6) connected to multiple indoor units via refrigerated piping to provide cooling and heating to individual zones.
The refrigerant piping will be smaller diameter than the hot and chilled water piping. This will allow the refrigerant piping to be ran with less disruption to the office holders and will allow the contractors to keep one system in place while the second system is being installed.
The VRF indoor units will be floor mounted console units similar to the existing fan coil units. This system will not have a changeover feature and will allow one zone (office holder) to heat while a different zone (office holder) can be cooling.
Shortal recommended this option because of the flexibility of control, ease of maintenance and lesser construction costs which makes it a cost-effective solution.
The third option was similar to option 1 in that it would replace all of the existing equipment as described in option 1. However, it would leave the existing piping on the first and second floor in place and simply replace all of the insulation throughout the building.
This would be reusing the existing piping in the basement and provide new insulation. The risk involves using 40-year-old piping and relying on it to last another 30 plus years. The cost savings is significant because they are not spending money on new copper piping, demolition, cutting, patching, etcetera. This would reduce the amount of labor and shorten the construction duration.
Shortal estimates a construction period of around five months to complete the project.
The board had originally budgeted $400,000 for the HVAC replacement. The announcement of the $191,000 from the USDA, which, according to Dwight Reynolds, was the largest grant awarded in the entire state, it allows the board to consider more options.