Flying Colors

Oct. 1, 2009
For the new Armed Forces Reserve Center in New Windsor, NY, the Army way was also the right way: Design/Build courtesy of Harrington Engineering.

Life in the Army can make an individual “Army Strong,” but strong often conjures up images of things that are tough and demanding — and not necessarily always entirely comfortable. In the case of the new Armed Forces Reserve Center in New Windsor, NY, however, the Army sought out top-notch comfort and efficiency, and found it courtesy of Harrington Engineering, Rocky Hill, CT.

The result was a five-star project, and a winner of a 2009 Design/Build award from

The Armed Forces Reserve Center consists of a two-story, 75,000 sq.ft. training building and a 15,000 sq.ft. maintenance facility. The first floor of the training building includes an assembly hall that doubles as a cafeteria, operational offices for both the Armed Forces Reserve and New York Army National Guard, an exercise area, a weapons simulator room, three arms vaults, showers, lockers, and storage. The second floor has offices, classrooms, a secure communications room, and a conference room.

The maintenance facility is designed to service the military's specialized vehicle fleet.

Harrington Engineering, a 2008 Design/Build Award winner (see Design/Build Awards: Design/Build to the Rescue) was contacted by the general contractor joint venture of O&G/DTC Engineers and Constructors, which had submitted the winning proposal to the government and had been awarded the fixed-price Design/Build construction contract. O&G/DTC wanted to partner with a one-source professional service provider, and they found that in Harrington, whose list of services includes mechanical, electrical, plumbing, piping, sheet metal, fire suppression, telecommunications data, security, and building control systems.

Many Code Standards to Meet

The project had many environmental and regulatory code standards, not the least of which was the requirement that it meet SPiRiT Gold Certification. SPiRiT is a sustainable project rating system that has been used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 2001. It's similar to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) program. SPiRiT Gold certified highlights include:

  • An energy consumption level 30% below ASHRAE's Standard 90.1 baseline building
  • High efficiency water heating
  • Ventilation air energy recovery
  • Variable airflow air conditioning systems
  • Energy efficient lighting
  • A well-insulated building envelope
  • Water-conserving plumbing fixtures.

Harrington Engineering was up to the challenge. To achieve a 30% reduction over ASHARE Standard 90.1, the company employed a variety of energy efficient equipment and techniques.

The company started with energy modeling software to perform a room-by-room energy analysis. This served as a design to optimize the efficiency of the building envelope, the HVAC systems, domestic water heating systems, and lighting, also served as a validation tool that the 30% goal was achieved.

“The value of the energy model as a design tool was priceless,” says Ken Hipsky, P.E., LEED AP, design project manager, HVAC design, Harrington Engineering. “Once set up, the model allows one to evaluate the impact of various energy conservation measures.”

Harrington sought out a highly efficient air-cooled chiller (which was specified by the government contract), and implemented an airside energy-recovery system that pre-conditions the outside air entering the building by reclaiming the energy from the exhaust airflow.

Airside Energy Recovery System

The Harrington team also obtained energy savings by installing three high-efficiency domestic hot water heaters instead of one larger unit. This allowed the system to operate on a lead/lag setting and generate the needed demand while saving energy.

Harrington combined indoor air quality with energy efficiency by installing a CO2 sensor-monitoring system in the training and maintenance buildings, which are minimally staffed during the week but operate at full capacity on weekends. The CO2 sensors were located in high/low occupancy areas, and served to reduce the amount of unnecessary outside air provided to areas that did not contain any personnel.

Further energy savings were achieved by looking “outside the box” at the big picture: the building envelope. Harrington's team worked closely with the project architect to determine the baseline thermal properties of the building envelope, and what improvements could be made to minimize the heating and cooling loads.

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“We tried to push the envelope with the architect and general contractor,” Hipsky says. “By providing a facility with better insulated walls, roof, and windows, we were able to minimize the loads and reduce energy consumption.”

In addition to the energy efficiency requirements, the maintenance building posed additional mechanical challenges. To accurately engineer the correct vehicle exhaust system, Harrington Engineering's design team had to research and fully understand the specifications of the various specialized vehicles that would be serviced in the facility — many of which have high exhaust temperatures and rates.

An in-floor radiant heating system and an infrared radiant heating system in the ceiling were designed to provide a comfortable indoor temperature in the maintenance building year-round, even given frequent openings and closings of the facility's two large bay doors.

Finally, due to anti-terrorism equipment location restrictions, Harrington had to engineer a way to effectively fit all the necessary equipment into the maintenance facility's cavity ceiling instead of on the roof or next to the building. The equipment that had to be placed within the tight space included a make-up air unit, building exhaust system, vehicle exhaust system, overhead radiant heaters, light fixtures, sprinklers, piping, and an overhead crane.

“I give all the credit to our field personnel and our CAD Group,” Hipsky says. “This is a great example of how we are able to combine our field experience with our design expertise to solve a complex coordination issue across all trades.”

An extensive commissioning process is always a hallmark of Harrington Engineering's work. In this case, Harrington performed a complete “startup system check” of all the installed systems, including the building controls and building management systems. When the facility was officially commissioned by a third-party (as required by the government contract), it passed with flying colors.

“Harrington Engineering is a very professional organization. Their design met all the requirements and standards of the Department of the Army, and their installation was exceptional,” says Andrew Smith, project engineer, Army Corps of Engineers. “I received constant compliments on the work they did. Everyone involved with this project was very impressed with Harrington's professional installation, knowledge, and compliance with the requirements.”

Harrington Engineering can't promise that the Army Strong soldiers who visit the Armed Forces Reserve Center won't be made a little uncomfortable by a tough sergeant or a 10-mile run. But the company's high quality HVAC design and installation will ensure that our troops' time at the center will be as comfortable as it can possibly be.

Winner at a Glance


Harrington Engineering, Rocky Hill, CT

Project Name/Location:

Armed Forces Reserve Center, New Windsor, NY

Total Mechanical System Cost:

$7.4 million

Product Keys to Success:

  • Trane air-cooled chiller
  • Trane modular air handling units
  • Trane single-duct VAV terminals
  • Trane packaged rooftop unit
  • Trane gas-fired makeup air units
  • Trane fan coil unit
  • AAON split system
  • Anemostat diffusers and registers
  • Mitsubishi ductless split systems
  • Xetex heat recovery units
  • Monoxivent vehicle exhaust systems
  • Twin City fans and ventilators
  • Patterson pumps and hydronic equipment
  • Detroit Radiant tubular infrared heaters
  • Fulton boilers
  • Rittling unit heaters
  • CaptiveAire kitchen hoods
  • Delta Controls energy management system