Q: Why do we need to replace the HVAC in the educational building? Is it broken? Why can it not be fixed?
A: The HVAC system in the educational building consists of 9 gas furnaces, 3 fan coil units, a gas boiler, and 12 outdoor condensing units, installed in 1996 (using older duct work) at a cost of $250,000 (1996 dollars). It has served us well, though we have been resorting to frequent repairs over the past few years. These repairs have been increasing in frequency and expense. In the past 24 months alone, the cost of HVAC repairs has been $20,000. Jim Freeman, who maintains the HVAC for our facilities, has notified us several times that the existing equipment could fail permanently at any time and require replacement on an emergency basis, which would be considerably more expensive than a planned replacement.
Q: When will the HVAC be replaced?
A: We intend to begin HVAC replacement as soon as the pledges are in hand to cover this capital expense, perhaps as early as this summer. We will finance the HVAC replacement, borrowing against pledges in 2018, repaying the money as pledges are fulfilled and gifts are received over the course of the three-year capital campaign.
Q: Are we choosing the most economical HVAC system?
A: The Variable Refrigerant Flow or VRF system that is proposed for the education building is much less expensive than boiler-chiller or geothermal water source heat pump systems; however, is a bit more expensive than replacing the equipment with the same equipment that is currently installed. Some of the benefits of the VRF system are relatively high efficiency (see additional information in next question), excellent zoning (comfort) capabilities, very good reliability record, and significantly reduced air noise levels when compared to the standard split DX systems currently installed. They also do not take up much ceiling space relative to other systems, so it is a good type of system for retrofits into existing building with minimal available ceiling space. This is the most cost-effective system available, to our knowledge, that provides individual room temperature control and the lowest air noise, two things that have been consistently discussed as needing improvement.
Q: Will the HVAC save energy? Will it be "green"?
A: Based on age, we estimate the existing systems to have a Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of approximately 9. The proposed VRF system have a EER of approximately 25, which simply calculates to be 2.78 times more efficient than the existing systems (or an estimated energy savings of approximately 64%). Once the systems are installed, the normal maintenance cost is expected to be mainly for filter changes and an occasional condensate pump cleaning. The variable speed compressors for these systems have performed reliably.
Q: Will the new HVAC save money?
A: While the installation cost will be significant, the annual savings on energy use is estimated to be $14,676 (Gas + Electric), assuming a 70/30 split between Education Building and Sanctuary based on usage patterns. The new HVAC installation will represent a 64% reduction in energy over the current system without any change in usage. We estimate an additional 30% reduction due to occupancy sensors, which will cause the system to use predetermined temperature set points when the space is not occupied. Total annual savings (reduced energy use and reduced maintenance expense) should be $24,676 per year. The cost of maintenance and repair of the current units will only continue to rise. This rise in maintenance cost for the existing system has not been factored in, but would represent savings from the new system in addition to those that have been calculated.