Facility Fix: HVAC Changes Allow Museum to Grow | Facility Executive - Creating Intelligent Buildings

This Q&A with Anthony Lauro, deputy director of curatorial and educational programs at The Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale explains how the museum implemented a new air conditioning system in order to host prestigious exhibitions.


https://facilityexecutive.com/2007/01/facility-fix-hvac-changes-allow-museum-to-grow/
This Q&A with Anthony Lauro, deputy director of curatorial and educational programs at The Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale explains how the museum implemented a new air conditioning system in order to host prestigious exhibitions.
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Facility Fix: HVAC Changes Allow Museum to Grow

Facility Fix: HVAC Changes Allow Museum to Grow | Facility Executive - Creating Intelligent Buildings

Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale

By Jillian Ruffino
Published in the January 2007 issue of
Today’s Facility Manager

Please give a brief description of the facility involved in this project.

The Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, founded in 1958, is housed in a building designed by the renowned American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes.

The Museum has now become well-known for its exhibitions and has become one of the region’s leading cultural attractions. Since 2003, we have broken all South Florida museum records by hosting more than one million visitors.

The Museum’s collection of over 6,000 works is international in scope, while strongly reflecting the creative expressions of the cultures of South Florida and the Caribbean. It is the mission of the Museum to explore the broadest spectrum of visual culture at the highest level of quality.

Why was the decision made to pursue this project for the facility?

In 2005, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities launched a new American tour of Tutankhamun’s treasures, known as Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.

The Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale wanted to become one of only four U.S. locations to display the King Tut exhibition, but it needed a new air conditioning (A/C) system. Its 20 year old chillers were inefficient and ineffective at maintaining humidity and temperature levels required in a museum environment. Updating the cooling system proved to be essential for selection for the exhibition; because of the Egyptian government’s stringent guidelines, we needed to prove our ability to safeguard the priceless treasures and artifacts.

As host to the King Tut exhibition, we were required to maintain humidity at 50% to 55% and indoor temperatures at 68?F to 72?F. We were contractually obligated to do this and had to send reports as proof. Our decision to install a new, specially designed A/C system proved to be the best and most efficient solution.

Please describe the decision making and research process for this project.

I began to research options for a new cooling system by talking to engineers, building managers, contractors, manufacturers, and our utility, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL). We worked together with FPL’s energy specialists to find a solution that would meet our facility’s needs in the most cost-effective way.

After careful review, FPL recommended we install an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) to decrease energy output while lowering humidity levels. And as part of their business incentive program which encourages business facilities to conserve energy, they informed me that an ERV would not only reduce the monthly energy bills, but the Museum would also be eligible for a rebate from FPL. It seemed like an intuitive choice, both economically and environmentally.

At the Museum of Art, we embrace the philosophy that energy conservation is not just good for the environment, but it also makes good business sense. By finding new ways to reduce our energy output, we can save money, increase the comfort of our facilities, and better preserve the fine art pieces in our collection. This philosophy is beneficial to both the environment and the Museum.

What factors led you to choose the specific solution that you did? What benefits were anticipated?

While cost, energy savings, and payback were all considerations, my biggest concern was the new system’s design. Would it control humidity and temperature at the level required to qualify for some of the more unusual and lucrative displays the Museum hoped to attract?

While it would have been a simple task just to replace the chillers, it would not have changed the air quality issues we were having. Because of this, we also made the decision to add ERV to our new units.

The result was a sophisticated system that could meet the special needs of the King Tut exhibition. The solution included two new 125 ton screw chillers, two water cooled energy recovery ventilators, chilled water valves on the air handlers, and an energy management system to automate settings.

Please give a brief description of the facility involved in this project.

The Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, founded in 1958, is housed in a building designed by the renowned American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes.

The Museum has now become well-known for its exhibitions and has become one of the region’s leading cultural attractions. Since 2003, we have broken all South Florida museum records by hosting more than one million visitors.

The Museum’s collection of over 6,000 works is international in scope, while strongly reflecting the creative expressions of the cultures of South Florida and the Caribbean. It is the mission of the Museum to explore the broadest spectrum of visual culture at the highest level of quality.

Why was the decision made to pursue this project for the facility?

In 2005, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities launched a new American tour of Tutankhamun’s treasures, known as Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.

The Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale wanted to become one of only four U.S. locations to display the King Tut exhibition, but it needed a new air conditioning (A/C) system. Its 20 year old chillers were inefficient and ineffective at maintaining humidity and temperature levels required in a museum environment. Updating the cooling system proved to be essential for selection for the exhibition; because of the Egyptian government’s stringent guidelines, we needed to prove our ability to safeguard the priceless treasures and artifacts.

As host to the King Tut exhibition, we were required to maintain humidity at 50% to 55% and indoor temperatures at 68?F to 72?F. We were contractually obligated to do this and had to send reports as proof. Our decision to install a new, specially designed A/C system proved to be the best and most efficient solution.

Please describe the decision making and research process for this project.

I began to research options for a new cooling system by talking to engineers, building managers, contractors, manufacturers, and our utility, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL). We worked together with FPL’s energy specialists to find a solution that would meet our facility’s needs in the most cost-effective way.

After careful review, FPL recommended we install an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) to decrease energy output while lowering humidity levels. And as part of their business incentive program which encourages business facilities to conserve energy, they informed me that an ERV would not only reduce the monthly energy bills, but the Museum would also be eligible for a rebate from FPL. It seemed like an intuitive choice, both economically and environmentally.

At the Museum of Art, we embrace the philosophy that energy conservation is not just good for the environment, but it also makes good business sense. By finding new ways to reduce our energy output, we can save money, increase the comfort of our facilities, and better preserve the fine art pieces in our collection. This philosophy is beneficial to both the environment and the Museum.

What factors led you to choose the specific solution that you did? What benefits were anticipated?

While cost, energy savings, and payback were all considerations, my biggest concern was the new system’s design. Would it control humidity and temperature at the level required to qualify for some of the more unusual and lucrative displays the Museum hoped to attract?

While it would have been a simple task just to replace the chillers, it would not have changed the air quality issues we were having. Because of this, we also made the decision to add ERV to our new units.

The result was a sophisticated system that could meet the special needs of the King Tut exhibition. The solution included two new 125 ton screw chillers, two water cooled energy recovery ventilators, chilled water valves on the air handlers, and an energy management system to automate settings.

What economic benefits have you reaped as a result of this project?

Through the ERV installation we will save close to $6,000 annually on our energy bills. Additionally, as a result of FPL’s business incentive program, we received an upfront rebate of $16,482.

What has been the reaction to the project from upper management and elsewhere in your organization?

They were extremely pleased with the results.

How has the community responded to this project?

They were thrilled to host one of the most renowned exhibitions in the world. It certainly was a unifying force for our community and one that made us all very proud.

What was the most professionally rewarding aspect of this project?

We were pleased to welcome more than 700,000 people to the King Tut exhibition, and our new cooling system did its job to keep indoor temperatures cool and humidity under control.

In addition, because of the new cooling system, the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale is now hosting Cradle of Christianity: Jewish and Christian Treasures from the Holy Land. The Museum hopes to host many other exhibitions that it might not have been considered for in the past.

For more information about the Florida Power & Light Company, visit www.fpl.com/news.

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