Jersey Schools Win Big With Heat Pumps

June 19, 2006
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The Scholar II unit’s stand-alone design eliminates the need for a costly heating plant/mechanical room and chiller.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Even in this gambling Mecca, new school construction coming in under budget is against the odds. But the Atlantic City School District was able to accomplish this feat with two new state-of-the-art schools.

According to construction manager Bill Francesconi of Joseph Jingoli and Sons Construction in Lawrenceville, N.J., the Atlantic City School District had been trying to build its New York Avenue and Sovereign Avenue schools for several years, but the mechanical budget kept stalling the projects, noting that it was set at $15 per square foot in 1993 when the projects' planning began. And, the heating system was a key element in the overall cost of the schools.

Francesconi worked with an architect and engineer for each school, reviewing their concept estimates on different types of systems. Finally, Francesconi met with Paul Agey of A&W Technical Sales, in search of a solution to the budget problem. They hit a winning combination of design, function, and costs with the Scholar II heat pump from Marvair.

"The Scholar II heat pump was the answer," said Agey. "It fit the budget and was a viable alternative to a water source heat pump originally specified."

Francesconi added, "The final installed cost came to less than $14 per square foot in a market that typically runs $24 to $26 per square foot."

A WINNING EDGE

Much of the initial cost savings can be attributed to the Scholar II unit's stand-alone design, which eliminates the need for a costly heating plant/mechanical room and chiller, as well as lots of piping and ductwork. Francesconi is quick to point out that "the Scholar II is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill heat pump."

"The condenser, evaporator, and all energy-efficient components are a complete self-contained package," he said, adding that this facilitates quick, easy installation, and the Scholar II's small footprint frees up square footage that can be used for classrooms instead.

Since the designated units are independently operated, ongoing maintenance savings are realized as well. "Regular maintenance of a Scholar II unit is simple," said Francesconi. "It needs only periodic air filter changes easily accessed from the front of the unit and can be conducted by the school's custodian."

Another benefit is the room-to-room control. "If a unit were to have problems, only that classroom would be without air or heat, not the whole school," said Francesconi.

Barry Caldwell, assistant superintendent in charge of operations for the Atlantic City Schools, added that it is nice not having half of the building too cold or too hot.

"Each teacher has some control over the temperature in his/her classroom," said Caldwell.

The Scholar II’s small footprint frees up square footage that can be used for classrooms instead.

ENVIRONMENT AND AIR QUALITY WIN OUT

In addition to meeting budgetary requirements, the heat pumps also met American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE's) guidelines for outside air ventilation, and provided both Atlantic City schools a total environmentally controlled building. The GreenWheel® total energy recovery ventilator (ERV), a Marvair exclusive, was key in meeting these guidelines, said Francesconi.

According to the manufacturer, the GreenWheel ERV strips heat and humidity from incoming summer air before it enters the classroom. The company said this can reduce the air conditioning load by up to 1 ton of cooling per classroom in the New Jersey summer climate. During the winter, heat is added to the incoming airstream, reducing the heating load. The results are a smaller, more-efficient system, lower operating costs, and a comfortable classroom, the company said.

The ERV's integral powered exhaust of the ventilation air met New Jersey's building code requirements for an exhaust fan and was, again, more cost effective. Other systems require a separate exhaust fan, an additional hole in the exterior wall, and control of the fan to operate simultaneously with the intake fan - all at additional costs, noted Francesconi.

Because of the proximity to the ocean, humidity control to prevent toxic mold growth in the classroom was also a high priority. The heat pump's optional factory-installed hot gas reheat system proved to supply the answer. It is designed to automatically dehumidify the classroom at a minimum of energy cost - especially important in areas with high electric costs.

Low-cost construction techniques were also utilized to keep the unit's operating noise to a minimum and conducive to a classroom setting. The heat pump was installed inside a small closet in many of the classrooms, achieving sound levels as low as 37 dBa with the unit running, according to Francesconi.

"The Scholar II heat pump was a new concept for our school district, but one that worked well from a budgetary standpoint and continues to work well, providing quality heating and cooling," summarized Caldwell.

For more information on the Scholar II heat pump and other Marvair heating and cooling options for schools, visit www.marvair.com, e-mail sales@marvair.com, or contact Bob Benson at 800-841-7854.

Publication date: 06/19/2006

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