The Guts of the Building

Those of you who attended last Sunday’s service may have felt like you were in a hell fire or a hot-yoga version of church but that is the building’s natural state, no air conditioning. It was a shorter service with typically low attendance, many at or avoiding the Gay Pride Parade, so it seemed like a good time to experiment. Wrong. Church members were sweating, an overheated woman left in the middle of service, and the organ pipes went out of tune. We learn from our mistakes. In this post I want to take a closer look at our air conditioning and show you the guts that make this building an icebox or an oven.

The interior of the boiler room. Contains the controls, pumps, and the intake/outtake pipes for the ice bank.

The current hybrid system was put in place with the retrofit in 1988. Underneath the courtyard is an ice-maker that is now run only on the hottest of days but was originally used every night. In the morning when the cold air was needed, water would be pumped over the ice to cool it. The cooled water would then be pumped around the building where fans could blow over the cool pipes and create cold air. Now we use chemically refrigerated water most of the time but the ice system still functions.

Hot and cold water pumps.

In 2002 when the new building was added the volume of cool air needed was effectively doubled but no new capacity was added to the old system. The logic was that both buildings were rarely used simultaneously so one system could serve both. Unfortunately lived experience tells us that is not the case.

Attic duct work over second floor offices.

The Port of Long Beach is offering grants to local organizations that serve children to address their air conditioning problems with the intention that high quality filters will be installed to pull out the harmful particulates emitted by the port. Yvonne, Sam, and I are currently exploring options to take advantage of this wonderful program to improve our system. We will keep you posted on our progress!

Rooftop cooling tower.

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