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Cooling a Cathedral

Cooling a Cathedral

Location:   Chicago
Project Type:   Church
Completion:   In Progress


Our challenge: A Chicago church came to us with a great cathedral- one of the most beautiful rooms in all Chicago. They wanted it cooled and didn’t know where to start. They needed help thinking through the feasibility, construction and cost impact to the building. Our experience of combining poetic concern and technical finesse in buildings was well suited for this church renovation project.

This building is a timeless work of art. The question we ask, How do we weave today’s science into it?

Our response: We explored the church’s current system, identified pockets of unused space for new equipment, studied their energy bills ,and interviewed key members of the congregation. We established project criteria of aesthetics, acoustics, efficiency, comfort, and budget. Next we imagined many possible solutions, then narrowed the options to the three that best suited this church. Collaborating with our engineers, we produced a series of 3D mechanical and architectural concept designs.

Option 1:
(2) 15 ton air cooled condensors are mounted on a new steel frame on the roof, paired with (2) air handling units, they cool the rear of the church. A rooftop package unit located above the admin office cools the front half. (2) Mitsubishi mini split systems heat and cool the smaller admin spaces and the attic ventilation is updated.

Option 2:
Using a heat pump loop, a single ‘air cooled fluid cooler’ located above the admin area pairs with (3) air handling units to cool the entire church. A new high efficiency boiler is tied into the heat pump loop allowing the same air handlers to heat as well. (2) Mitsubishi mini split systems heat and cool the smaller admin spaces and the attic ventilation is updated.

Option 3:
Rather than roof mounted units and a new boiler, a geothermal piping system ties to the heat pump loop allowing both heating and cooling from the same 3 air handlers. (2) Mitsubishi mini split systems heat and cool the smaller admin spaces and the attic ventilation is updated.

Option 4:
Existing steam boiler, piping, and radiators are replaced with new high efficiency hot water boiler, piping, and radiators located within existing sanctuary radiator niches.

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Contact us: 708.848.4750
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