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Air Conditioning Our Existing Schools

December, 2017

Many New Jersey school districts are considering the introduction of air conditioning into their existing schools. Some are considering cooling only select areas, others are targeting entire  buildings.

When considering air conditioning for a school, as with any investigation, be mindful of misinformation as it can add unnecessary anxiety and doubt resulting in an incompatible project. The strategies outlined herein are the most common methods for introducing air conditioning into existing schools, each has its pros and cons:

Classroom Window Air Conditioners – Typically the least expensive “modular” solution, it allows you to install one or 50. Window AC units are found in almost every district in the State.

This solution is cost effective and has worked for decades, in no small part, due to donations from PTO / PTA’s and other organizations. Window Air Conditioners have served our children well with very few issues.

Classroom Unit Ventilators – Another “modular” solution, although more expensive, is a unit ventilator (“UV”) retrofit. UV’s were historically designed to provide fresh air and heating. However, a simple upgrade of a single unit allows for the addition of AC into any one classroom. Replace one or replace 50, if you already have unit ventilators, it’s a very effective way of upgrading your old buildings with a modern amenity and allowing central control for operational efficiency.

Roof Top Package UnitsTypically such systems are for large spaces (gym, cafeteria, auditorium). As their description implies, these units are placed on the roof and contain all the components necessary to deliver AC. They can be designed to provide cooling only, or cooling and heating.

There are other, more complicated, options including Chillers and Geo-Thermal, and these have their own pros and cons. Every situation is unique and priorities vary: initial cost? life-cycle cost? centralized control? Ease of maintenance?

Once a district clarifies its priorities, the appropriate solution is usually evident. Any of these solutions might be valid, and when properly detailed and installed, might address the district’s concerns.

It is also important to note that there are subsidizes available to fund some of these project types, such as debt service aid and various grants.

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