Friday, July 24, 2015

Library to Close Next Weekend (Aug. 1-2) for HVAC Testing

Project managers have set the weekend of August 1 and 2 as the date to begin the start-up, testing, and balancing of the new HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system within the library's lower floors. The start-up will likely begin that Friday evening, July 31, after the library’s normal hours and continue through that Sunday. During that period the library will be closed.

Testing and balancing components of the new HVAC system began last week and was limited to the upper 5th and 6th floors. The system is working well and the new upper floors are noticeably cooler than the lower ones still dependent on the ”temporary” blowers, towers, and tubes upon which the library has relied since the building was reopen in spring 2006 after Hurricane Katrina .

The closure is a precautionary measure that will allow testing and balancing the system on the lower floors to be done while the library is unoccupied. During the closure air quality in the building would be tested, although the existing duct on the lower floors has been sample-tested for dust and contaminants in recent years with no problems identified. Once the air flow from the new system is properly checked out, a switch to the new system will take place ASAP.

The new HVAC system is part of a new mechanical and electrical central plant that occupies about two-thirds of the floor space on the 5th floor, although the area is walled in and hidden from view.  To build these systems on an upper level instead of a ground floor or basement, mechanical/electrical chase spaces through the center core of the building were reconfigured for vertical duct work to feed from the top-down rather than from the basement-up. New vertical duct, electrical conduit, and pipe were tied into the existing lateral distribution systems. Stair and elevator emergency pressurization systems were adjusted to meet current building codes.  All the new mechanical and electrical equipment has greater capacity to provide service for the two new floors and the mechanical systems include high performance air filtering and temperature/humidity controls.

Extra systems were put in place to eliminate any noticeable noise or vibration in all directions outside the mechanical area.  All equipment using water or liquid rests on large stainless steel drip pans with drainage systems and equipped with sensors that will shut off units when dripping water or liquid in a pan is detected.  As an added precaution, the floor and lower walls of the entire mechanical area are coated with thick layers of epoxy that produce a seal like a swimming pool and the floor itself has drains.  

The 5th and 6th floor construction scope includes removing all the old hanging tube that serves as temporary air duct on floors 1-4 of the building and replacing all the lower floor windows and transoms displaced by the tubes. Also included would be any other related interior repairs. Outside, the contractor will remove all the towers, blower units, and temporary chilled water pipe behind the building and restore that area to pre-Katrina condition as well. This dismantling of the old HVAC system and related repairs is expected to be completed in August.

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