November 6, 2018

Historic buildings and national landmarks have special requirements when it comes to commercial HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair. All systems must protect the integrity of a historic building while providing reliable comfort all year round, putting pressure on building owners and facility managers to find unique HVAC solutions.

When the specific requirements of a historical building aren’t met during the installation or maintenance of HVAC systems, serious damage can be done to the historical value of the building. It’s essential to understand the unique needs of a building to properly service or replace HVAC systems.

Considerations for Commercial HVAC in Historic Buildings

There are a number of considerations in commercial HVAC for historic buildings, especially when it comes to replacement of existing equipment. The weight of the new HVAC system has to be carefully reviewed to ensure all regulatory codes are met. Also, the heights of the ceilings and the potential impact of humidity are important considerations, particularly when selecting the type of HVAC system to be installed.

On top of these considerations, the existing architecture of the historic building must be preserved as much as possible. Unlike other buildings, historical architecture will dictate the type of HVAC system that can be used. Similarly, ensuring there’s easy access to HVAC equipment, which is not always straightforward in historical buildings, is important as this can save money in the long-term through preventative maintenance.

Replacing a Water-Cooled HVAC System at the NYC Town Hall Foundation

In a recent commercial HVAC replacement project, Donnelly Mechanical was contracted to replace existing water-cooled systems at the NYC Town Hall Foundation with a more efficient air-cooled chiller system. Special considerations had to be made because of the historical status of the building.

Donnelly leveraged its design build expertise and commercial HVAC experience to provide a new HVAC design and improved cooling system for the building. A number of critical HVAC components had to be replaced with newer, more efficient and more reliable components for long-term ROI and cost savings.

In the end, the project was a success. The historical value of the building was fully preserved, without interruptions to daily operations, and a new high-efficiency HVAC system was properly installed.

To learn more about this project and best practices in commercial HVAC for historic buildings, read Donnelly’s featured project on HVAC replacement for the Town Hall Foundation.

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