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    Trinity Covenant Church worship center.

    Chilly Church Gets a Ruud Awakening

    March 30, 2023
    Two-story, multi-use church lacked a properly sized and zoned HVAC system. Focus Heating & Cooling installed and zoned almost 100 tons of Ruud equipment.


    Tucked in the capital city of Salem, Oregon — home to nearly 180,000 residents — is Trinity Covenant Church and the tight-knit community that it has served since the 1950s. Recently, the church’s leadership had to face challenging decisions about how to best serve Salem by modernizing its HVAC system.

    The congregation moved to its current space in 2001 to provide the community with a larger facility. The 31,500-sq. ft., two-story multi-use building includes a large foyer, sanctuary, classrooms, community gym, library and offices. Outside of Sundays, these areas are used by many people, including church staff, youth attending free after-school programs and peer groups. The space is also used by community outreach teams who provide resources for the homeless and serves as the home to countless other programs committed to helping others in the community.

    The Challenge

    Although the larger space suited the community’s needs, its HVAC system did not. During cooling season, the downstairs office area would get so cold that staff required space heaters, while the upstairs classrooms would get excessively warm, routinely reaching 80 degrees. The community gym also experienced frequent cold drafts that would blow through intermittently.  A lack of thermostats and temperature control on the second floor only made the situation more challenging.

    “There is no doubt that we were in dire straits. Our HVAC system was falling apart,” says Jon Lemmond, lead pastor at Trinity Covenant Church.

    The heating company serving the church tried to find small workable solutions, but the repairs did not solve the larger heating and cooling issues. Eventually, church leadership decided to invest in replacing the HVAC system to provide the best long-term solution for its community.

    They received recommendations from the community that Focus Heating and Cooling would make an ideal partner for the project. Experienced in Commercial and
    Residential HVAC maintenance and installation, the Focus team immediately surveyed the entire building, reviewed the current system’s functionality and worked in conjunction with Mar-Hy Distributors to determine the best solution to provide the church with a much-needed HVAC overhaul.

    “One of the issues we found on this building was that they zoned by use of equipment,” says Jason Burns, owner of Focus Heating and Cooling. “It is a two-story building and they zoned it being north and south, so two separate floors were controlled off one piece of equipment. We suggested that the system be rezoned so that the two levels had separate controls.” The rezoning would allow both floors, which host a variety of spaces, increased flexibility and control over temperatures in specific areas of the multi-use building.

     'It is a two-story building and they zoned it being north and south, so two separate floors were controlled off one piece of equipment. We suggested that the system be rezoned so that the two levels had separate controls.' - Jason Burns

    Burns worked with the Mar-Hy team to recommend a mix of Ruud Renaissance and Resolute commercial packaged units to rectify the problem. Oregon has progressive state building codes making the Ruud products ideal for the project, as they were designed and engineered to meet or exceed all those crucial standards.

    In the end, almost 100 tons of Ruud equipment was installed across nine units. The day of installation required a high level of coordination between Focus, Mar-Hy and the Ruud teams.

    “The Renaissance line is so great. You just set it on a curb, and you’re done,” Burns says. “You don’t have to put a curb adapter in, which saved us probably an hour of crane time on this project. And that’s huge.” Once the units were in place, the team was able to install the equipment quickly, as the Ruud units include hinged panels for faster and easier access, pre-programmed VFDs, and single point wiring throughout.

    The Renaissance units feature a durable, stainless-steel heat exchanger option for gas/electric products. “It rains a lot in Oregon, and the stainless-steel heat exchanger has a low upfront cost and provides a good added benefit to the contractor, as well as the customer, as it offers an extended 20-year warranty,” says Eric Schmidt, operations manager at Mar-Hy.

    Church staff no longer need space heaters while they work in the
    offices on the main levelWith the church’s new HVAC system, the zones throughout the building were reconfigured to better meet the needs of both levels, which included zoning the first and second floors separately. Church staff no longer need space heaters while they work in the offices on the main level, and airflow in the gym was corrected to eliminate cold
    drafts and provide comfortable, balanced temperatures.

    Chuck Burleigh, a member of the church since he was 13 and retired engineer who helps with facilities management, says, “I come in, the building’s cold, I turn the thermostats up, and the place actually gets warm quickly. Everybody has been really happy with the system.”

    “Ruud always wants to do what’s right, and we make a product that is going to last a long time, easy to install and good quality equipment for the contractors and the
    end users,” says Jim Wheeler, Ruud district sales manager. The combination of an experienced, knowledgeable local contractor combined with a thoughtful and highly professional distributor, along with the added support of a true manufacturer partner, ensured this church community will be comfortable for years to come.