Say Good by to bulky RTU's

Health care air conditioner replacement turns into no tall order

                 August 28, 2012

                             	New York City is certainly  renowned for the quantity and variety of tall buildings towering over  the Manhattan skyline. Many of these structures are at a point where age  has taken its toll on mechanical systems and now require replacement.  Even if they are still operational, today’s new A/C systems are more  energy efficient, making it cost effective for changeout.

				**Flexible cooling equipment helped this hospital upgrade its A/C system with no disruptions.**
		 		 	   	You might think, “No big deal, it’s done every day.” New York City,  like many large metropolitan areas, is a little bit different from a  smaller city like say White Plains, NY, where mechanical systems are  generally easier to access. In New York City, replacing a large system  often requires demolition, cranes, rigging, and a lot of extra work.
So it was at an Emblem Health facility located in mid Manhattan around  35th and 7th Avenue. The building was erected in the early 1970s, and  the mechanical systems have been running for over 25 years. Because it  is a hospital, maintaining ideal comfort conditions is critical. The A/C  system had to be replaced quickly and with the least amount of  disruption to the patients, service providers, and staff.
Like many tall buildings, space conditioning is done floor by floor  rather than by large central units. Many of the systems were installed  during the building construction where access was not an issue. Removing  the old systems is generally not a problem because the units are  disassembled by whatever means available and scrapped. Getting the new  units to their installation location is where the fun begins.
The Emblem Health building had four existing units spread out from the  basement, main floor, and at an upper level. Sizes ranged to 45 tons and  the replacement units would be the same size.
MWSK Equipment is a manufacturer’s rep located on 7th Avenue in lower  Manhattan. They service the five boroughs and have had a lot of  experience in squeezing air conditioning systems into tall buildings.
“Often the HVAC contractor has to do a lot of preparation work in order  to fit an A/C system through small passageways,” said Freddie Taruc,  sales manager at MWSK. “Larger units may have to be raised by crane to  upper floors and require rigging, permits, and building modification. If  they take it through the building, the unit may have to be delivered  partially disassembled and then reassembled on site, or walls and  doorways opened to allow access.”
Regardless of the entry method, the installation cost can easily exceed  the unit’s cost when you measure manhours and special equipment  necessary to complete the job. And of course there’s the additional time  needed for demolition, installation, and final repairs.
Taruc said they needed to get the replacement units in quickly and with  as little building modification as possible. They reviewed their  options and selected United CoolAir.
“United CoolAir makes cooling equipment uniquely designed for our  market,” said Taruc. “They manufacture a class of air conditioners with  many flexible features that not only allow negotiation through narrow  doorways and halls but also require no evacuation and charging after  installation.”
Tareq Batarseh, P.E., LEED® AP, associate for Robert Derector  Associates Consulting Engineers (RDA), is the specifying engineer for  the latest Emblem Health project and is no stranger to these kinds of  retrofit installations.
“Each room has its challenges, some rooms have height restrictions and  width restrictions,” said Batarseh. “United CoolAir units have the  ability to connect to existing piping and ductwork with minimal  modifications.”
He likes the flexibility in United CoolAir’s system design and their  ability to modify the cabinet sizes as needed, two major reasons why  they are an approved manufacturer for Emblem Health.
Health care facilities, unlike most commercial buildings, are generally  active 24 hrs each day. The retrofit was scheduled for two weekends,  with two units replaced each weekend.
The old equipment was removed on each Friday and the replacement units  brought in with minimal interference with the hospital’s operations. The  modular sections were quickly reassembled and connected to the existing  hookups. Since the units were pre-charged at the factory, brazing,  evacuation, and charging in the field were eliminated to save many hours  of valuable labor. The units were operational by Monday morning at the  start of the new week.
This latest installation went smoothly, much to the credit of the  easy-to-handle modular units, resealable refrigerant connections, and  factory charged sections. ES