HVAC: HVAC System Replacement & Expansion

C&S Companies of Syracuse, New York, had to install 20,000 pounds of ductwork at a training center while navigating continuing classes.   

C&S is demolishing and replacing theh entire HVAC system for an existing 12,000-square-foot building, as well as providing a new one for an 8,000-square-foot expansion.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, or IBEW, Local 43 Electrician’s Training Center in Syracuse, New York, needed to replace their existing HVAC system and expand their facility. The catch is that they would continue teaching classes throughout the expansion and renovation. 

“It’s like someone coming into your office and shuffling everything around while still expecting you to do your job,” says Eric Taylor, PE, senior project manager with C&S Companies of Syracuse. “We are moving existing audio-visual equipment and furnishings to maintain use of the facility. It’s challenging to preserve the educational environment under these circumstances.” 

C&S works closely with the faculty and the other trades to support a good learning environment for the apprentices. “We are trying to be cognizant of the teachers and students, keeping the facility as close to normal as we can.” 

The biggest challenge has been maintaining occupancy while performing the renovation. “We haven’t been able to go in and wipe everything out,” Taylor says. “We have to be strategic in how we demolish systems so apprentices can continue to work.” The institute has rearranged class locations to allow C&S to access different areas.

“The owner will give us a few rooms or a section that we can work on for a couple of weeks. When we complete that area, they move their students back in, and we go on to the next section. The challenge is being able to coordinate with other trades efficiently to limit multiple mobilizations, rework or having to perform portions of work twice.” 

The training center has major equipment mounted on the roof or suspended above the drop ceiling. “Typically, the ceilings would be the last thing we would do,” Taylor says. However, for this project, the students needed to move back into the space before C&S finished the mechanical work. The contractor installed temporary ceilings in those sections to restore a functional classroom environment for the client. “We used temporary plastic ceilings because we didn’t want to damage the new tiles. Nobody wants to do things twice or to repair new work that somebody else has damaged.”

C&S is demolishing and replacing the entire HVAC system for the existing 12,000-square-foot building and providing a new one for the 8,000-square-foot expansion. The project will take about 12 months from start to finish. “We’re three or four months into the project,” Taylor says. “We should be complete by June or July.” The project will bring in about 1500 work hours. “Between the office, the fabrication shop and installation, we will have two to five people working all the time. Installation is intermittent because we are scheduled around the architectural work. When we’re not onsite installing, we’re in the shop fabricating.” 

The existing facility currently utilizes ground-mounted air handling units without energy recovery. The upgrade will increase efficiency and occupancy comfort by replacing the air handlers with three energy recovery ventilators and 23 fan coil units. “The three ERVs and 23 fan coil units support a significant amount of ductwork throughout the facility,” Taylor says.  

C&S is installing a total of 20,000 pounds of ductwork into the facility. Most of the installation will be traditional 20-, 22- and 24-gauge galvanized duct. C&S is fabricating all rectangular ductwork in their downtown sheet metal shop. The project will also require about 1,200 feet of round duct, sourced locally and prefabricated. 

After years of supply chain issues, C&S was surprised to get all equipment for the training center in a pre-COVID timespan. “We reached a point where we didn’t trust delivery dates from manufacturers and vendors because we had been disappointed so frequently,” Taylor says. “For that reason, we like to manufacture as much as we can in-house to maintain control.”

C&S Companies has offices across the United States. Still, their fabrication shop is in downtown Syracuse, New York, with an additional shop/warehouse a few miles north of Syracuse. Most of their mechanical/HVAC projects are within one to two hours of Syracuse. They collaborate with a strong general contractor, which is how they won the project. “Our general contractor won this in a traditional competitive bid,” Taylor says. “We have the expertise to do many different things in-house, which gives us an advantage locally.”