About 100 miles south of Kansas City lies the town of Nevada, MO. The western edge of town, in a rural 70-plus acre setting, is home to Cottey College, a private two-year liberal arts college for women. Founded in 1884 by Virginia Cottey, the college was donated to the P.E.O. Sisterhood in 1927. As a part of this philanthropic educational organization, Cottey is the only non-sectarian college in the United States owned by women for women.

The student body consists of approximately 350 students from 15 countries and 35 to 40 states. Admissions are highly selective and Cottey College prides itself on preparing its students to go on for four-year degrees at other institutions.

Neal Swarnes has been with the college for 27 years, starting in the facilities department in 1977 and taking the top spot as director in 1994. Through staff, consulting engineer, contractor, and supplier teamwork, he has earned the reputation as a no-nonsense director who keeps his campus under control. So much so that even several audits by various energy service companies have yet to prove a savings beyond what he has done in-house. W.L. Cassell & Associates, Midwest Mechanical Contractors, and Summers Associates, all based in Kansas City, are part of that team.

Swarnes first learned about the Spirovent® air and dirt separators at a local conference of the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers, (APPA) where he is active at all levels. It was demonstrated and presented by Rick Summers, the local Spirotherm manufacturer’s representative. Seeing it again at a regional conference, Swarnes decided to check out their references.

Quieting the dorm: is it possible?

Summers worked with Swarnes to tackle Robertson Hall, a problem building on campus, as the first application. Built in 1959, Robertson Hall encompasses 59,000 sq ft and houses the dining hall, along with approximately 150 students, making it Cottey’s largest residence hall. The air and dirt in the chilled water system were causing a lot of problems, including cavitation in the pumps. This resulted in very noisy and inefficient operation.

Swarnes knew the air and dirt had to be removed from the system. He had several options, including replacing the existing centrifugal air separator with a 6-in., high-velocity Spirovent combination air/dirt separator. “After looking at many of the devices for the air and dirt problems, we decided that Spirovent’s no moving parts and proven history made it the best decision.” Within one week of installing the Spirovent the problems were solved. “The product certainly proved itself,” Swarnes stated. “It works effectively, and we will continue down that path.”

‘Constant air lock and noise’

The President’s house was another challenge. Built in 1903, it is one of the oldest historic homes in the city. When it was renovated in 1982, the boiler and piping were replaced and portions of the home were switched to a forced-air HVAC system. The hot water heating system was left in place because of the comfort level delivered by the boiler and cast-iron radiators. Constant air lock and noise drove Swarnes to replace the existing air separator in the house with a brass Spirovent 1-1/4-in. Junior. Swarnes explains, “We had been battling system problems forever, and the Spirovent solved them.”

To date, there are six Spirovents installed or waiting for installation with even more planned for the future. When asked how the Spirovents have made his job easier, Swarnes said, “They have worked very well, and that always makes our jobs in the maintenance field easier. They removed the excess noise and pump cavitation, and cleaned up the water. This has given us peace of mind knowing that the dirt and air are gone from these systems.”

From standard and high velocity commercial units on the chilled water systems to a small residential model for the President’s heating system, Spirotherm has become part of Swarnes’ team to provide cost effective solutions for his campus. ES