By the winter months, the Webster Parish courthouse will be undergoing some work to change out its heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC.

Ed Elberson, with Somdal and Associates (the firm that built the courthouse), says during a Webster Parish Police Jury buildings and grounds committee meeting Tuesday, the scope of the project will include a new system on the market that uses refrigeration lines throughout the building.

“It’s different in that we don’t need all the duct work,” he said. “We basically run refrigeration lines in the building. We’re going to leave the existing equipment where we can, particularly anything with asbestos. We’re going to replace all of the ceiling, which is the main architectural part of this. You’ll have that new, and the (units).”
The plans will be complete by the end of this month, he says, and then it will go through state Facilities and Planning for approval.

John Wilson, with John Guth Engineering explained how the system works. He says currently the courthouse has a chiller with a cooling tower on the roof, and an old boiler in the basement.

“It supplies chill water, warm water to the air handler units that are scattered out through the building,” he said. “Then, when the two wings were added on, they put two large roof-mounted units that come down and serve the different areas on the end wings.”

All of that will be removed. Elberson says they began using a new system, called variable refrigerant flow, about six or seven years ago.

He says this system is also being used in Doyline and Central Elementary.

The new system is basically a condensing unit like on a house that serves the indoor unit.

“This single condensing unit can serve a number of air handling units,” he said. “The condensing units go up to about 30 tons max. We’ll have about four or five of these units that will serve individual ‘cassettes’ in the different rooms.”

They will use heat recovery heat pumps, which allows the building to be heated and cooled at the same time. For example, he says, one room in the building can be cooled while another room in the building can be heated from a single unit.

Once installed, the new system can be serviced locally, Elberson said.

Secretary treasurer Ronda Carnahan says the police jury applied for capital outlay for $1,265,000. In 2014, legislators got about $560,000. She says they received the other roughly $750,000 for 2015.

Carnahan says the state bond commission met a couple of weeks ago and the remaining funding was approved, putting the project in Priority 1.

“That was the cost Somdal gave us in 2008, when they did an evaluation of our HVAC,” she said. “We in no way thought that we’d be able to do this. But with funding the way it was, we knew we couldn’t ask for more.”

She says she began putting money back over the years to add to it, and they have around $1 million to add to the capital outlay, which will be the match they had to meet.

The good news is with the proposal put forth, the project will be within the limit of roughly $2 million, she said.
The total cost includes architectural fees and other services within the realm of the project. As the project moves forward, the funds will be released for payment. The plan is to use most of the money put back by the parish to pay administrative costs. Most of the cost of the project itself will come from capital outlay.

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