My firm recently completed the design of an off-campus student housing project. This project converted a 21-story, high-rise office building into an apartment-style student housing facility with one to five bedrooms per apartment. The existing building had a very good infrastructure consisting of water-cooled chillers, chilled water risers, and a centrally located mechanical room on each floor. To provide outside air to each floor, we utilized an abandoned elevator shaft adjacent to the mechanical rooms to route the outside air duct down to each floor. Each of the existing VAV air handlers in the mechanical rooms was then replaced with a 100% outside air unit to provide dehumidified air to each apartment.
More recently, we had been asked to convert an eight-story office building into apartments. This conversion proved to be a lot more difficult than the 21-story conversion. The eight-story building was listed on the historic register, lacked any centralized mechanical spaces or roof space for any additional equipment, and had a budget that would not allow the addition of central mechanical rooms. As housing projects were being designed all around the country, we decided to check and see how other engineers were addressing outside air on similar projects in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Through FOIA requests, we were able to review a number of Group R-2 projects.