Besides prevention of energy losses and flying insect infiltration, a medical center maintenance staff discovered a new air curtain benefit; adding an integral awning to keep patrons dry during rainstorms and complement exterior building aesthetics.
Air Curtain

Air curtains installed at the Hampton VA Medical Clinic keep the facility bug free and help keep patrons comfortable in inclement weather.

When the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Hampton, VA, retired two 20-year-old Berner International, New Castle, PA, air curtains protecting its Canteen Service Building (CSB) foodservice facility entranceway, the maintenance team conceived an air curtain and awning combination. The awning extends outward approximately 18 in. from the building exterior so patrons can open an umbrella in a dry standing area. It also aesthetically enhances the building entrance.

The 110-yr-old CSB, which is one of 35 buildings on the campus of the nation’s third-oldest Veterans Affairs hospital, has an entrance with conventional glass double doors that are protected from a “T-shaped” masonry plenum-like port. While 90% of air curtains are installed on the interior side of entrances, the CBS’s two 6- x 8-ft plenum port openings are each protected by an exterior-hung air curtain to prevent flying insect infiltration and energy losses.

There’s also an existing air curtain mounted inside the building’s back kitchen shipping door for insect prevention as well.

“There was never a question about replacing the front entrance air curtains because we’ve never had a complaint of flies in the CBS,” said Stuart Gupton, HVAC work leader, Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “Although there are no energy audits for proof, I know the air curtains are saving energy, too.”

Awnings are a great idea; however they don’t exist in any air curtain manufacturer’s product line. Berner International, which is known for adapting air curtains to everything from restaurant drive-thru windows to vertical installations beside large industrial openings when conventional horizontal mounting is impractical, custom-designed the metal air curtain awning exclusively for the 8,000-sq-ft CSB.



Leif Berner, president and owner of manufacturer’s representative firm, Southern Material Handling, Portsmouth, VA, felt the awning design would be easy for Berner’s custom engineering department that features automated sheet metal CAD laser cutting and forming equipment. Therefore, two gray powder-coated awnings were designed, fabricated and added for two Model VSA, 72-in.-wide air curtains for the plenum port’s two openings.

Berner’s engineers determined wind load effects and the correct size so air intake wouldn’t be restricted, which is critical to the units efficacy of providing an air seal for flying insect prevention. A screen across the awning’s bottom prevents bird nesting.

The hospital maintenance staff added another anti-corrosive coating because of the salt-laden air of its Chesapeake Bay waterfront location. “Any outdoor metal in this coastal area has its lifecycle reduced by 20% because of the ocean salt,” said Gupton.

The 68-acre complex has more than 15 air curtains in a variety of models used for varying applications, such as flying insect and energy control for both front-end entranceways and backdoor shipping areas, heated models which spot heat doorways for patron comfort, and a high-style Mark II powder-coated white for the emergency room entrance.

“Keeping flies out of a medical building is just part of our high standards for sanitation here,” said Gupton. “We buy air curtains that have a proven track record for requiring little or no maintenance throughout their entire lifestyle,” he added.

Air curtains are just another tool the medical center uses to maintain high sanitation levels and comfort for its patrons, added Gupton.