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Rooftops, Fabric Duct Keep Gym Comfortable

Press Release

By Joanna Turpin | Contributing Editor. E-mail her at

FabricAir ductwork
Article from 6/14/2004 ACHR NEWS Magazine,

Gymnastics facilities seem to be popping up all over the place. Many adults have embraced gymnastics as a great cardio workout, while toddlers through teenagers often take classes in the hopes of becoming the next Mary Lou Retton.

The proliferation of gymnastics facilities has posed some interesting challenges when it comes to heating and cooling. These buildings are often made of prefabricated metal, which may not support rooftop units without modifications. In addition, the facilities usually consist of one large open area with high ceilings, so just getting heated or cooled air down to the occupants can be challenging.

Hannabery HVAC, Allentown, Pa., was recently presented with such a challenge at a gymnastics facility in New Jersey. The firm found that by combining traditional rooftop units with fabric ductwork it was possible to keep the large space and its occupants comfortable year-round.

Deciding On Ductwork:

Comfort and proper airflow were the two most important requirements for the HVAC system in the New Jersey building. FabricAir ductwork was chosen for the facility because air seeps out of the ductwork instead of being thrown out of a register in various locations.

FabricAir ductwork

The ductwork is available in a variety of colors, and the company can even fabricate the ductwork in custom colors to match the facility. The gymnastics facility had blue mats installed, so matching blue fabric ductwork was chosen. Fabric duct system can also be installed very quickly compared to standard traditional systems.

Up On The Rooftop:

Almost every square inch of the gymnastics facility is taken up with floor mats and equipment, so there was no extra space for mechanical rooms. With the high ceilings, it wouldn't be feasible to hang equipment all around the building, as the raised and padded floor mats are very expensive, and placing a ladder on them to service equipment would not be possible.

For these reasons, two 20-ton Rheem rooftop units were placed on the building. The gas heat/electric cooling units are equipped with economizers, so on mild days, the facility has the opportunity to utilize outside air instead of mechanical cooling.

A larger-than-normal crane was needed to lift the units onto the roof, but the installation went fairly smoothly. Ease of service is a concern, as the units are only accessible by way of a tall ladder on the outside of the building. The owner has been advised to install an inside ladder on an available mezzanine with a hatch leading to the rooftop, but no action has been taken at this point.

While the rooftop units take care of heating and cooling the main area in which the gymnastics classes take place, other equipment was needed for additional areas of the building. The perimeter areas of the facility, which include a retail area and a few small offices, are serviced by a 2-ton Rheem heat pump.

A 5-ton, 90-percent-efficient Rheem furnace uses LP gas to heat the main lobby area. An air conditioner was also installed on this unit. This large, high-traffic area needed a furnace that would quickly heat the space, so the cold air coming in through the front doors wouldn't travel across the room into the area with the gymnastics equipment. A Honeywell T7300 thermostat gives the owner of the facility a number of programming options.

By all accounts, the budding gymnasts have been comfortable in their new training facility.

Hannabery HVAC has been providing sales, service, and installation of heating and air conditioning equipment to Eastern Pennsylvania homeowners and businesses for over 35 years. Specialties include indoor air quality and energy-saving products, geo-thermal heat pumps, custom ductwork, and professional air duct cleaning. For more information about Hannabery HVAC, call them at 610-366-9400 or visit them online at

Edited for website. This article may not be copied or used without our written consent.

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