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St. Andrews by the Sea Maximizes Cooling Efficiency

Nestled next to the Atlantic Ocean in Nags Head, North Carolina, St. Andrew’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church has been part of the Outer Banks community since 1916. The current facility includes a large worship area and multiple, connected buildings. The church accommodates over 600 year-round members from villages throughout the Outer Banks, as well as numerous tourists. As a diverse parish, they mean it when they say, “Fishermen Welcome. Come as you are!”

In the South, extreme heat and humidity combined with moderate rainfall create a constant challenge to indoor air quality and temperature. This mixed humid climate created an unsightly mold problem that covered most of the church ceiling at St. Andrew’s. St Andrew’s manual approach to energy management—by turning on the air conditioning 15 minutes prior to a service—failed to cool the church effectively. Cold air blowing from the vents was cancelled out by heat emanating from a room superheated by the high temperatures. This thermal mass effect reduced the system’s efficiency, resulting in higher energy costs than a system providing consistent, level usage. Their manual method also put tremendous strain on the system, increasing maintenance costs. St. Andrew’s multi-building structure presented an additional challenge. People visited the premises, modified temperature controls, and forgot to turn them back. Handling many events in multiple buildings led to unbalanced temperatures and wasteful energy use.

St. Andrew’s required an energy management system that could handle a mixed-humid climate and quickly and easily adjust to multiple usage scenarios, such as meetings, classes and events. The focus was not only on comfort, but also to remove the mold hazard and manage energy and maintenance costs.

St. Andrew’s enlisted the services of Grady Lassiter of RA Hoy Heating and Cooling to address those needs. After an intense field investigation, followed by a thorough check of the existing equipment, Grady found that the outside fresh air dampers were dumping water into the building and the system was flawed with inoperative thermostats and equipment. Grady implemented his solution in two phases. First, he removed the source of moisture by fixing the dampers, added dehumidifiers to reduce humidity, and upgraded the air conditioning equipment. Second, he installed an energy management system that replaced the sharp increases and decreases in temperature with a more even temperature approach and a zonal focus.

Grady chose EcoConcierge Energy ICM and Honeywell VisionPro IAQ Thermostat to implement energy saving strategies. Zone-based temperature controls allowed St. Andrew’s to create comfortable areas for all daily activities, including automatically lowering the temperature a few hours before service and then returning to a higher temperature immediately afterward. Implementing these controls addressed St. Andrew’s goals to improve comfort and reduce waste was better for the air conditioning equipment and reduced energy and maintenance costs.

“Using Energy ICM has created a comfortable environment for our members” says Joseph James at St. Andrew’s. “Energy management means that we no longer have out-of-control thermostats and are aware of our usage—so we can measure and improve our conservation efforts.”

“St. Andrew’s went live in November 2008, ahead of schedule. As far as bang for the buck, Honeywell thermostats run on anything I need, and Energy ICM is a low-cost, easy-to–install solution for managing energy usage in the most complex environments,” says Lassiter, an indoor air quality expert.

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