The City of Allentown has been awarded a $500,000 Pennsylvania state Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund grant for the replacement of the HVAC system at Allentown Public Library.
The building at 1210 Hamilton Street was constructed in 1977 and is still operating with the original electricity-based HVAC system that struggles to provide adequate heating during the winter and cooling during the summer. It is being replaced with an energy efficient natural gas system as part of a more than $2.2 million project.
“This project is going to greatly improve the experience of our patrons,” said Library Director Renee Haines. “Library staff wants to provide quality service, but that can be difficult when they and our visitors are thinking more about their comfort during winter cold or summer heat. The HVAC system is nearly 40 years old and average life expectancy is 15-to-20-years.”
The system has been prone breakdowns resulting in costly repairs over the past several years. Maintenance of the old electricity-based system is also costly, in addition to the rising costs of electricity.
“We are very happy to be able to come to the assistance of the library,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “It is one of the gems of the city and serves a significant portion of the population.”
The work includes removing the existing 120-ton roof top chiller and replacing it with a 200-ton air-cooled chiller. Two high efficiency gas-fired condensing boilers will be installed in the basement and a new gas main will be extended from the street requiring repairs to the parking lot. There will also be steel reinforcements to the roof, electrical work and selective demolition of interior walls and ceilings to accommodate removal of the existing air handling system.
The project will begin after the contract has been approved and returned by the state and bids are awarded. The project is expected to take about six months to complete. The library will remain open during the project, closing only for a day or any other length of time when necessary.