With several heat alerts being issued, air conditioning units need to be well maintained and working, especially for public facilities. However, one of the Nanuet Library's HVAC units is malfunctioning.
“This is very important, especially in the summer time. People use this library as a cooling center during days of extreme heat,” said Nanuet Library Director Gretchen Bell.
The company the library uses for its current HVAC system is Honeywell. Honeywell representatives Sharon Reardon, Rich o’Malley and Steve Mango sat in a special library board meeting on Thursday morning to discuss several options.
There are three HVAC units on the roof and one of them is faltering due to the hot weather and all three are past their life expectancy. Currently, a temporary solution being used is a continuous spray of water on the problematic unit to cool it.
The three options the library were given included fixing the unit, replacing the unit or replacing all three units.
The first option was to fix the unit, which would cost about $17,000 for the labor, the condenser coil and the crane. Honeywell representatives added that if the library goes with this option, they’ll drop the labor portion off of the costs, which is roughly $5,000.
“We would have to get here the day before the crane, do a lock out, tag out of the roof to make sure everything is safe. Then we would bring in the crane the next day,” said o’Malley.
A crane would be needed because the coil weighs more than 500 pounds.
“The new laws for the R-410A model that’s coming out may be a problem for your library. There are no more R-22s, which is what you have now,” said o”Malley. “The coil, that part is no longer manufactured, but Honeywell can find it for you.”
The cost to replace the unit is $33,000-38,000.
“That’s very expensive. We will need to go out and bid to (keep the budget under the tax levy cap),” said Bell.
“It’s costly, and no one wants to bite the bullet and do this retrofitting, but when time comes to replace it, it’ll probably come at an emergency time that’s not convenient,” said Mango.
“The new unit will be made to match up with existing hole and duct work. We would use the existing curb so we don’t touch the roof at all,” said o’Malley.
“My technician said that there are no issues with the others, just this one,” said o’Malley, however, he added that the life expectancy of the current unit is only 20 years, so the units are already past their prime years.
The life span of the new units would be 25 years.
“It’s like we’ve been putting them together with band-aids. They will deteriorate over time and you’ll see the effects as energy costs slowly go up,” said o”Malley.
Bell asked about the condition of the other two HVAC units since they’re all about the same age. One unit covers just the upstairs community room, is not always on and is controlled by its own thermostat. The second one covers the middle area of the library, which is the original library. The original library is the adult reference section and is from the 60s. The problematic unit is the one that covers the newer addition to the library, which is the children’s room, the lobby and upstairs area.
The board also inquired into the energy efficiency of the new unit and if there would be a cost savings in their energy bills.
Honeywell representatives said that they would need a year’s worth of utility bills and get their engineer to figure out the projected energy costs for the library. Bell said that she would get that over to Honeywell as soon as possible.
Bell said that the library uses a great deal of the AC system from May through September. The library building has cinder block walls, cement foundation and a flat black roof.
“We’re in dire financial straits, are there any financial plans for this?” asked Winoker.
“We do offer a program, ELM, Energy Life-Cycle Management program. It’s for people who need to replace end-of-life equipment, like you,” said Mango.
This would be an interest-free 5-year plan for the library. The plan can be done for less than five years.
Board member Arthur Winoker asked about guarantees on the coil and replacement unit. o’Malley responded that there would be regular warrantees for both options, which is one year from the date they install it. He added that there is an extended warrantee available.
“Also, on top of the 1-year warrantee, you’ll probably still want preventive maintenance. We would cover preventive maintenance during that year of warrantee,” said Reardon.
The crane is a major cost, according to Honeywell. Honeywell will be the one to supply the crane.
“We have two crane companies that we deal with in Rockland and Orange counties,” said o’Malley. “Honeywell is 200 percent on safety, everything is done according to policy and by the book.”
He added that if the library chooses to move forward with Honeywell, it would take at least 4-6 weeks out to get the unit before anything could begin.
Bell added that when the building is comfortable on the middle level, it’s uncomfortable on the lower level and vice versa. Honeywell said that they will have an air balancer come in and check the air flow.
Mango said that Honeywell is headquartered out of Orangetown with over 65 mechanics at its local branch.
“We need that many mechanics on duty to be able to respond to emergency situations, especially at hospitals, so we always have someone that can come to the library quickly if there ever is a problem,” said o’Malley. “We stay with our customer.”
The board also discussed possibly looking into other types of energy such as solar and the recent geo-thermal well test.
“We need to get more information and figure out how competitive these costs are and cost effectiveness in the long run,” said Winoker.
“We need more information when dealing with this much money. We need to look at the possibility of alternative methods of energy,” said Board Member Mary Noberini.
Newly-elected board member Tim Donnelly leaned toward replacing the unit.
“If I have an ’83 Corolla, I wouldn’t put a new transmission in it,” he said.
The board also discussed hiring an independent HVAC expert to access the situation to bring in an objective third party perspective.