A four-pipe fancoil system met the St. Augustine’s stringent design and construction requirements, and it eliminated the need for originally specified PTAC units that the architect felt would have detracted from the look and charm of the Hilton’s design.
St. Augustine, FL, widely recognized as "America's Oldest City," sets stringent design and construction requirements intended to preserve the charm and feel of the city's Spanish Colonial period of 1784-1821. Designing a premier full-service Hilton hotel in the center of the city's historic district that would blend in with the surroundings and maintain a reverence for history was the challenge facing Hilton owner Kanti Patel and architect Gerald Dixon.

The new Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront would be built on the site of the abandoned Monson Motor Lodge, the site of an infamous 1964 civil rights protest. Before construction could begin, the existing structure had to be demolished, and the historic ground on which it was built had to be excavated.

It was obvious from the beginning that a standard hotel design would not be suitable for this facility. Instead, a Spanish Colonial architectural design was selected. The "hollow-square" design consists of 19 separate buildings set around an inner courtyard and connected by an interior corridor. The 72-room facility features wooden balconies, cedar shake, tile roofs, and different elevations and color schemes.

A Confining Design

The original design called for four two-pipe systems to provide heating and cooling to the guest rooms. However, this design would not allow for simultaneous heating and cooling of the individual rooms. Thus, Patel contacted Robert Yoho, president of PowerCold ComfortAir Solutions, Inc. (PCS), a D-B firm located 200 miles south of St. Augustine in Largo, FL.

PCS designs proprietary four-pipe fancoil HVAC systems that eliminate PTAC units and quietly provide precise temperature and humidity control to each guestroom and public space. Because PCS systems use heated and cooled water already circulating in the building through the domestic hot water lines and the fire sprinkler piping, initial installation costs are affordable and operating and energy costs can be slashed.

Working closely with the owner and architect, PCS modified the original HVAC system designs to accommodate the new central system. For additional energy savings, PCS decided to fit the hotel with DuPont Caltrel® plastic heat exchangers. Designed for harsh and demanding applications, Caltrel heat exchangers can offer significant improvements in strength, design, and performance, and they can deliver improved friction and wear capabilities, added toughness, and high flow and productivity.

The facility is the first mid-rise Hilton fitted with PCS' proprietary HVAC system and Caltrel plastic heat exchangers. The system is expected to operate with utility costs 50% below the standard HVAC systems installed in other mid-rise hotels, with an ROI of less than two years.

A System-Worthy Study

Patel commented, "The Hilton's unique Spanish Colonial design embodies the history of St. Augustine and its status as America's oldest city. PCS' central HVAC system met the city's stringent design and construction requirements, and was specifically chosen because it eliminated the noisy, cumbersome through-the-wall units that detract from the look, charm, and feel of the Hilton's architectural design. The system is energy efficient and environmentally friendly, and it provides the highest level of comfort for our guests."

Yoho explained that the St. Augustine Hilton demonstrates that PCS' patented HVAC system can be installed in any facility, regardless of its structural design. The system controls moisture in guest rooms and public spaces while also reducing power and maintenance costs.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Energy Conservation Assistance Program (ECAP) is conducting an initial site survey and energy audit of the Hilton. ECAP will monitor the facility to record energy usage and determine cost savings. PCS is working with ECAP to conduct energy audits for the hospitality industry and assist owners and developers seeking certification in Florida's Green Lodging Program.

The Hilton, which is located only about 40 miles south of Jacksonville, debuted with a superb opportunity to test its new HVAC system. It opened for guests on February 3, 2005 - just in time for Super Bowl weekend, and according to management, everything HVAC performed superbly.ES