High-tech Air Distribution Products Help Cure “Sick Building Syndrome” at Martin County Courthouse

Stuart, FL – The recent discovery of an extreme incidence of fungal growth and bacteria in Stuart’s Martin County Courthouse Complex, caused county officials to order the building completely evacuated. The discovery was made after the County hired indoor air quality (IAQ) experts to investigate the causes of widespread employee illness in the complex.

The County needed some answers and solutions quickly to bring the courthouse employees back to a safe working environment. Because of its successful track record in providing solutions to air distribution problems associated with “Sick Building Syndrome”, Warren Technology was selected to manufacture the variable air volume terminal units and supply air diffusers used in the renovation of the Courthouse complex. Over 650 Valid Air® high-performance ceiling diffusers and 208 Quiet Plus® variable air volume terminal units were installed in the Courthouse buildings.

The Courthouse complex included three connected buildings, the Martin County Courthouse (four floors that include approximately 60,000 square feet), the Constitutional Office Building (three floors that include approximately 45,000 square feet), and the Public Defender Building (one story building with approximately 3,000 square feet of office space).

The complex’s original HVAC system consisted of central station air handling units and multiple fan coil units located above the lay-in ceiling. Since the initial construction, all the buildings had suffered from moisture problems and severe fungal contamination.

Because of the continual complaints by the employees and the microbial contamination found throughout the buildings, county officials hired Clayton Environmental Consultants, Edison, NJ, to examine the building and perform an IAQ investigation.

After the IAQ consultants reported their findings, county officials called in CH2M Hill, Orlando, Florida, to evaluate the buildings’ HVAC systems and implement the recommendations of the IAQ consultants. CH2M Hill recommended two options for HVAC renovations. The first was to install central air handling systems that used single duct, medium velocity variable air volume (VAV) terminal units controlled by a direct digital control (DDC) system. The second option was to install floor mounted fan coil units with stand alone control capabilities that could be monitored by a central system.

The County decided on the first option and told the engineering team to design the most cost effective HVAC system that would meet the special design requirements. George DuBose, from CH2M Hill, had been aware of the technologically advanced air distribution products manufactured by Warren Technology and their previous track record in helping solve the problems associated with SBS that plagued the DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton, Illinois. Warren was referred to Norman Nelson of Building Systems RX, Portland Oregon who was commissioned to do the mechanical specifications for the HVAC equipment.

After an extensive evaluation, Building Systems RX selected Warren’s Quiet Plus® variable air volume terminal units and Valid Air® high-performance diffusers as the basis of design for the renovation project.

Norm Nelson stated that, “Warren’s products were the most cost effective and technologically advanced products available to meet the design requirements of the Courthouse.”

Warren Quiet Plus® VAV units offer a quantum improvement in variable air volume design and performance. All Quiet Plus® VAV units feature the patented Zebra® precision air valve which offers ultra-quiet operation, plus laminar air flow and precision control.

Noise attenuation is a critical component of a successful building environment and Warren’s Quiet Plus® VAV terminal units offer the quietest performance available today.

Valid Air® high-performance diffuser dramatically improve total room air circulation. Patented high velocity dimple jets direct air flow parallel to the ceiling to prevent cold air downdrafts. A multi-directional air flow pattern distributes air evenly throughout the occupied space to eliminate stagnant air pockets where harmful contaminants can accumulate.

David Peach, Project Manager of the Martin County Courthouse Renovation stated that, “Warren has a proven record of success in helping other building owners solve indoor air quality problems. The first costs associated with the air distribution portion of the project were actually less than we budgeted for, which is unusual for a renovation of this magnitude.”

Ferran Services and Contracting’s Dave Hase, Project Manager for the mechanical installation was impressed with Warren’s dedication to customer service. “Warren Technology has served us better than any other vendor on this project. They were available during the installation to answer any questions about their products and even sent factory representatives to the jobsite during start-up.”

The county spent $10.6 million to build the buildings in 1988 and will have spent more than $5 million for the necessary renovations to alleviate the problems at the Courthouse complex.