Since 1893, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery (Dayton, OH) has been providing hands-on learning to its visitors. Named in honor of Oscar Boonshoft, one of the museum's most dedicated friends, it is a two-story, 90,000-sq-ft interactive museum visited by families and school groups.

Its mission focuses on teaching the 280,000 visitors it has annually about the significance of many different types of environments that surround us, including the ocean, the tropics, the desert, wetlands, forests, and space. The latter is made possible by the exciting addition of the new Digistar II planetarium projection system that has the ability to chart 1 million years (into the past or future) in the sky.

The Most Critical Environment

But according to the museum's facilities manager, Dave Swiadek, the most important environment is the one kept in the archive, where visiting exhibits are kept. "Boonshoft has more than one million artifacts, many of them invaluable and irreplaceable," says Swiadek.

"Artifacts range from kitchen utensils to gemstones, most of which are hundreds of years old and in extremely delicate condition. For example, we have Indian tapestries-wall hangings-that will mold if the room doesn't stay dry, but not too dry. If the humidity is too low, fabric will dry out and crumble."

Issues like these made it imperative to the museum's future to install the proper humidity control system. Boonshoft would have difficulty obtaining the premier exhibits if it couldn't properly preserve them.

"We were having difficulty keeping the exhibits from molding, cracking, and splitting because the humidity control was unpredictable in the display," says Swiadek. He contacted Rieck Mechanical (Dayton, OH), for consultation, installation, and service. Rieck Mechanical provides a number of products and services including design-build, temperature controls, hvac service, plumbing, and piping installation.

After diagnosing the problem, Paul Brown, professional engineer at Rieck Mechanical, prescribed a retrofit. "The biggest problem was the existing system, which consisted of heat pumps," says Brown. "There wasn't anything technically wrong with the pumps, but they didn't have a control system which made it impossible to control the humidity the way the museum wanted or needed."

Rieck Mechanical, a Novar Technology Center (NTC), recommended Novar Controls's Hawki(r) (which has since been upgraded to Hawki(r) Advanced) to control the environmental conditions as well as monitor demand-side management. According to Brown, Boonshoft needed a competent system that could interface with other equipment. With Novar, Rieck had the ability to roll Carrier rooftop units and Nortec dry system humidifiers into the Hawki control.

Novar's systems, such as Hawki, are built on Logic One, a network of "intelligent," standalone modular components that allow the system to be customized to meet a building's unique control and monitoring requirements. Intelligence is distributed so that each module can stand alone or work as part of the overall system.

More Exhibits = More People

According to Swiadek, Novar is helping to control more than humidity. "There is no question that the Novar system helps us control our energy costs by closely monitoring our systems and identifying any trouble before it becomes a major problem," he says. "And last year, through load shedding, our energy savings per month averaged out at approximately 12%."

Thanks to the improved humidity control, Boonshoft is able to feature more exhibits. Swiadek claims this has led to a 25% jump in attendance. "Not only are we attracting people to the museum, but once they're here, they can enjoy the exhibits in a comfortable environment," says Swiadek. "We want to continue to make visitor comfort a high priority." ES