Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church’s community center in the Tempe, Arizona suburb of Guadalupe now has state-of-the-art HVAC thanks to variable refrigerant flow (VRF) equipment, accessories, and installation labor donations from RectorSeal®, Houston; Panasonic Air Conditioning Group (a division of Panasonic Corp. of North America), Kennasaw, Georgia; and Woody’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Peoria, Arizona.

The 13,000-square-foot, slump block-style building, which is a popular meeting place for the small town’s 5,500 Native American and Hispanic residents, frequently exhibited 100°F interior temperatures and above. Even before the community center’s six 40-year-old evaporative (swamp) coolers became inoperable recently, they struggled to reduce indoor temperatures below 90°F when ambient temperatures climbed above 100°F. Now VRF technology maintains the majority of the facility at a comfortable 76°F set point, while simultaneously reducing utility costs. “This newfound air comfort will make the community center more inviting for weddings, celebrations, and religious study,” said Rev. Louis Khoury, parochial vicar, who serves the church along with Rev. Alberto Villafan, pastor.

While an energy comparison has yet to be recorded, the Panasonic 6-ton ECOi Series condenser and four evaporator coils will reduce parish electric costs significantly and use one-quarter of the annual energy previously used by the facility’s four retired unit heaters, according to Malcolm Persaud, Panasonic’s national sales and product manager – USA Commercial VRF.

David Breecher, owner of Woody’s Heating and Air Conditioning, donated labor expertise for the project’s swamp cooler demolition and the VRF installation, with help from Khoury, Persaud, and congregation volunteers. RectorSeal donated accessories from its VRF and mini-split installation and maintenance product line consisting of: 1) NoKink flexible, non-kinking lineset connectors for quick, easy, and reliable evaporator coil/lineset connections; 2) Fortress aesthetic lineset protection duct/fittings; 3) Novent tamper-proof refrigerant access port locking caps to prevent refrigerant theft; and 4) a Desolv Coil Cleaning Kit that includes an overspray protection and debris collection bag, reservoir, and Desolv coil cleaner designed especially for sensitive parts of VRF/mini-split evaporators.

Besides donated project labor, Woody’s also provided linesets, copper fittings, and other necessities at a wholesale cost to the church. Panasonic also donated several PACi ducted split systems for the 100-year-old nearby church’s restrooms and adjacent consolidation of manufactured home offices, which were inefficiently cooled by 11 window air conditioner units and an inoperable 3-ton ducted rooftop.

By not revamping or replacing the ailing swamp coolers, which consumed thousands of gallons of water annually, the church will also continue to conserve water in Guadalupe’s water-scarce desert environment.

The facility’s new air comfort is steadily increasing the community’s involvement in the church and its activities. “The idea behind this HVAC project was to help bring the community closer together and offer a comfortable environment [from] which to learn religious principles,” Persaud said.

Publication date: 3/4/2019

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