Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church’s community center in the Tempe, Ariz., suburb of Guadalupe now has HVAC thanks to variable refrigerant flow (VRF) equipment, accessories and installation labor donations from RectorSeal, Houston; Panasonic Air Conditioning Group (a division of Panasonic Corp. of North America), Kennasaw, Ga.; and Woody’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Peoria, Ariz.
The 13,000-square-foot, slump block-style building, which is a meeting place for the small town’s 5,500 Native American and Hispanic residents, often exhibited 100 F interior temperatures and above. Even before the community center’s six 40-year-old evaporative (swamp) coolers became inoperable they struggled to reduce indoor temperatures below 90 F when ambient temperatures climbed above 100 F. Now VRF technology maintains the majority of the facility at a comfortable 76°F set point, while reducing utility costs.
“This newfound air comfort will make the community center more inviting for weddings, celebrations and religious study,” says Rev. Louis Khoury, parochial vicar, who serves the church along with Rev. Alberto Villafan, pastor.
While an energy comparison has yet to be recorded, the Panasonic 6-ton ECOi Series condenser and four evaporator coils will reduce parish electric costs and use one-quarter of the annual energy previously used by its four retired unit heaters, according to Malcolm Persaud, Panasonic’s national sales and product manager, USA Commercial VRF.
David Breecher, owner, Woody’s Heating and Air Conditioning, donated labor expertise for the swamp cooler demolition and the VRF installation, with help from Khoury, Persaud and congregation volunteers. RectorSeal donated accessories from its VRF and mini-split installation and maintenance product line consisting of NoKink lineset connectors for evaporator coil/lineset connections; Fortress aesthetic lineset protection duct/fittings; Novent tamper-proof refrigerant access port locking caps to prevent refrigerant theft; and a Desolv Coil Cleaning Kit that includes an overspray protection and debris collection bag, reservoir, and Desolv coil cleaner designed for sensitive parts of VRF/mini-split evaporators.
Besides donated project labor, Woody’s also provided linesets, copper fittings, and other necessities at a wholesale cost to the church. Panasonic also donated several PACi ducted split-systems for the 100-year-old nearby church’s restrooms and adjacent consolidation of manufactured home offices, which were cooled by 11 window air conditioner units and an inoperable 3-ton ducted rooftop.
By not revamping or replacing the ailing swamp coolers, which consumed thousands of gallons of water annually, the church will also continue to conserve water in Guadalupe’s water-scarce desert environment.
The air comfort is steadily increasing the community’s involvement in the church and its activities. “The idea behind this HVAC project was to help bring the community closer together and offer a comfortable environment for which to learn religious principles,” adds Persaud.