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ART GALLERIES

H&C Contracts have worked closely with the Royal Academy of Arts since 1992 and are proud to have been involved with an ongoing programme of improvement to the Gallery air conditioning ever since.

Recently, in a move to reduce energy and life cycle costs, the Royal Academy of Arts has been replacing their ageing air conditioning and humidification plant with new Dalair air handling plant, Hitachi Samurai chillers and Defensor Mk5 humidifiers. The products were specified by consulting engineers Peter Deer Associates Ltd (PDA). The plan is to roll out this new strategy to all their Galleries over the next few years. In so doing they will also replace all old R22 plant with new environmentally friendly refrigerants and make the most of the energy saving and maintenance benefits.

"The existing direct expansion (dx) cooling systems and Defensor Mk3 steam humidifiers had reached the end of their useful life and were no longer able to ensure the close environmental control required to protect the exhibits in the galleries," explained John Pengilly of Peter Deer Associates. "In replacing them, we took the opportunity to improve energy efficiency and cost of ownership as well as increasing the resilience of the system," he added.

The four RCUE40CLG Samurai chillers, which are enclosed in a stainless steel plantroom on the roof with separate air cooled condensers mounted above, serve four of the RAA's 20 galleries through chilled water coils in two new air handling units per gallery. Similarly, one Mk5 humidifier connected to each air handling unit injects steam into the supply air to maintain the relative humidity to within +/- 5% of the set point. The plan is to roll this strategy out to the other Galleries in the coming years.

Although the air in the galleries is conditioned 24 hours a day, improved air distribution design within the galleries has allowed reduced air volumes to be used while maintaining the required close temperature and humidity conditions necessary for indemnified works of art. The controls system also allows for comfort cooling and semi-natural ventilation modes of operation when fully indemnified conditions are not required. This has enabled the RAA to reduce its energy costs, above and beyond the inherent efficiencies of the new plant. In addition, the increased reliability and longevity of the chilled water system compared to the previous dx systems mean that maintenance costs are also reduced.