|First United Methodist Church was one of the first Methodist churches in central Pennsylvania.|
|The pump area in the mechanical room shows off the quality workmanship and attention to detail that Clark, Inc. brings to its projects.|
| Clark, Inc. was able to deliver a modern, efficient comfort system at this church despite not being allowed to make any penetrations in the building’s historic stone walls. |
How’s this for a challenge: a 200-year-old church. The foundation and many of the exterior walls are solid stone. Due to the historic nature of the building, wall penetrations of the exterior are not permitted by the local historical architectural review board. On the inside, every time an interior ceiling or wall is opened, a new challenge presents itself. Much of the as-built information is missing. Floor and ceiling elevations vary from section to section, making zoning a design challenge. Very little space is available for ductwork, and chases for ductwork and piping are very difficult to create.
No interruptions of the myriad daily activities at the church or its adjacent school are permitted, and the entire site is at a major downtown intersection with limited space for parking and no area for lay-down and storage.
Yet, despite all that, it didn’t take a miracle for the team from Clark, Inc., Paradise, PA, to produce a heavenly comfort system at this project, which included 33,000 sq.ft. of renovations and 27,100 sq.ft. of new building space. The renovations included classrooms, chancel, restrooms, common meeting space, a daycare center, and a mechanical equipment room. The new construction included the addition of a multi-purpose room, a large commercial kitchen, new chapel, additional Sunday School classrooms, a choir wing, a library, additional restrooms, and mechanical space.
The project started in April 2005 and finished, on time and on budget, in September 2006.
A True Design/Build Partnership
Clark, Inc. had done some service work on the church’s old heating and cooling system over the years, and that relationship no doubt helped the company win this project. Rich Nolan, Clark’s project manager, says a bigger factor was his company’s partnership with the general contractor, Horst Construction.
“We went in with Horst as a Design/Build team, and showed the folks at the church how we could design and provide a working addition and renovation. We’ve worked together with Horst for many years, and as a team we’ve both been very pleased with each others’ work, creativity, and commitment to the total building team.”
The system that had seen its day at the church was a combination two-pipe/four-pipe chiller system that had seen numerous modifications and renovations over the years. Clark installed a new boiler, and replaced the existing chiller system with two new high-efficiency chillers. The new equipment was tied into the church’s existing two-pipe system, while newly constructed areas received a four-pipe distribution system that provided the church with more flexibility and control. Clark’s new primary and secondary pumping system created a simplified bridging arrangement between the new and old piping systems.
“Through the use of crossover bridges, the church now has the capability to run each system independently, or cross them over for redundancy,” Nolan says. “The Design/Build approach was well-suited to creating this concept, which worked well for the customer, incorporated solid design principles, and was readily able to be constructed in the allotted time and budget.”
Nolan points out that Clark used its own inhouse design and CAD capabilities to coordinate the mechanical spaces with the other trades, produce sheet metal shop drawings, and increase the efficiency of the field work.
Diverse Systems For a Diverse Facility
In addition to the new chillers, several different types of systems were selected to meet the diverse building arrangement. These included gas-fired rooftop systems and furnaces, to serve the large meeting areas and upper floor, and variable volume and temperature controls in selected classrooms. Fan coil units serving the lower floor and daycare center were replaced with new high-efficiency units, and restroom exhaust was increased to meet code requirements.
Using a variety of systems helped Clark overcome the challenges presented by the lack of space and the stone walls.
“High-efficiency rooftop units with custom discharge arrangements and zoning controls were used on the upper levels and the multi-purpose room, while the lower floors used the four-pipe system,” Nolan explains. “High-efficiency gas furnaces were used in the areas that could not be served by packaged units or the four-pipe system, and we upgraded many of the fan coils to give the church long-term operating savings.”
To maintain the normal operation of the church, the heating and cooling plant had to remain in operation throughout the entire renovation process. The project began during cooling season, and the existing chillers had been located inside the footprint of the new addition. The chillers were relocated to a temporary location at the beginning of construction, and immediately put back into service. When the new chillers arrived, they were installed on the roof, and service was transferred to them — just in time to remove the temporary chillers and allow renovation of one of the church’s entrances.
The new chillers are roof-mounted to conserve valuable parking space on the building lot. A custom, vibration-isolating rail system was designed to hold the chillers, and to prevent vibration and noise from transferring to the space.
A Major Challenge and a Happy Ending
A major challenge at this project was coordinating the schedule for the construction and renovations to ensure that they caused no interruption of the daily operations. First United Methodist Church maintains a busy schedule of meetings, daycare, homeless programs, choir practices, and funerals throughout the week, and weddings and church services on the weekends. Demolition, material deliveries, and installation required meticulous planning to allow each section of the building to be started and completed in stages. The most important of these sections was the daycare center.
Activities in the daycare center and the areas surrounding daycare were coordinated to ensure the safety of the children and the staff. By staging the renovations and working around the daycare center’s daily schedule, Clark was able to completely renovate the daycare space without incident and without interrupting any of the center’s programs.
Keith Lynch, facilities manager for the church, says he has been very impressed with Clark, Inc. “They installed a good system, and they’re very professional and responsive,” he says. “They’re taking care of the system as far as service and warranty work, and we plan to work with them on new things as we need them.”
For Nolan and the team from Clark, this was an interesting and challenging project in which it was impossible to ignore the beautiful surroundings. “This was a great project just because of the building itself,” Nolan says. “The church is 200 years old and there’s a lot of history there.”
However, there was one slight disappointment for Nolan. “Despite all the renovation we did, we never came across a long-lost chalice hidden in a wall. That would have been pretty cool.” Chalice or not, Nolan and the team from Clark, Inc. can attest that Design/Build remains the Holy Grail of HVAC contracting.
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