As the director of facilities at NorthlandA Church Distributed in Longwood, Florida, Gary A. Moss has a lot on his hands. The heating and air conditioning system in the church's original facilitya converted skating rink built back in 1954is equipped with separate air conditioning systems based on manual operation. The new facility, which includes a children's worship wing that includes an 18-classroom school building, is configured on a central plan with individual VAV's (Variable Air Volume) for temperature adjustment, within a given range, for each classroom. The VAV's are controlled via computer.
Northland's new worship facility is comprised of 142,000 square feet, and features 27 different air conditioning systems and sensors throughout the building. "We do not have programmable thermostats that anyone can walk up to and program," Moss explained. "They are programmable thermostats, but it's all based on a computer program, and I program that for the entire building."
The air conditioning system for this building is divided according to zone, and Moss programs these zones based on their occupancy, via software provided by Lennox. "We can set them for different times of the day," he explained. "For instance, on a Sunday morning, we need it a little bit cooler in the sanctuary, and I can program that at one temperature for four hours, warm it up in the afternoon and then cool it back down in the evening."
When assessing the options out there, Moss advises his counterparts at other churches to examine their building usage before arriving at a purchasing decision. "If they are like we are, where we use different parts at different times of the day, seven days a week, with different load factors, they have to look for not necessarily individual programmable thermostats, but an overall control program that would enable them to, at a computer, adjust every single unit," he said.
Moss also touts the benefits of making the thermostats inaccessible to the public, or even other occupants of the building. "That way, you eliminate the problem of those that like to come in and do their own thing with them," he said. "A computer-based program to control your system today is almost essential."
For smaller facilities, a completely centralized solution may not make sense. In the September/October 2008 issue of Worship Facilities magazine, you can read about programmable thermostats for smaller environments.