The Starke County Commissioners this week decided to go with a less expensive, four-furnace heating and cooling system for the courthouse as part of the upcoming building renovation project. Commissioner Kathy Norem says the proposed scope of work includes regulator replacement.
All three floors will be heated, but only the first and third will be air conditioned due to the design of the historic structure.
That system carries a price tag of about $70,000. Norem says the county will incur an additional cost to purchase new window air conditioning units for offices on the second floor.
The commissioners also considered a variable refrigerant flow, or VRF, unit to heat and cool all three floors for an estimated cost of $350,000. Norem says reviews from courthouses and judges that use them are mixed.
A third option for a four-coil pipe system was deemed impractical. Required electrical upgrades to the building would drive the cost upwards of $500,000.
Maintenance supervisor Jim Coad says the four furnace system has a big advantage over the VRF.
“If it goes down, the whole building goes down,” Coad said. “At least with the other system, option one, with the four furnace units, if the units go down for heat and furnace we still have the boiler as a backup.”
The commissioners agreed to work with Starke County Clerk Vicki Cooley on the placement of the new window air conditioning units and optimal furniture placement to ensure staff comfort. They noted the new units are more efficient and less noisy than the ones currently in use.
Choosing the less expensive HVAC option will also allow the commissioners to consider other bid alternatives as part of the project. Work is expected to start this summer.