The Background

Reading, Pennsylvania, was struck by a severe hailstorm that left extensive property damage throughout the region. The maintenance team at Berks Technical Institute discovered that their commercial rooftop HVAC units had suffered severe damage from the storm and called Oliver Mechanical to assess the impact and recommend a solution.


The damage to the rooftop units warranted replacement, and the Oliver Mechanical team proceeded to assess the current needs for the space to ensure that the new units would work efficiently to keep staff and students comfortable. During the evaluation, the team learned that the capacity of the existing systems had been determined.

At that point in time, each classroom was designed for 30 students working at a personal desktop computer, and was lit by fluorescent T-12 bulbs. As technology evolved, the T-12 lights had been replaced with more efficient T-8 tubes and students now work on laptop computers in smaller groups of 15-20. All of these changes reduced the heat output of each classroom to the extent that the current cooling load is up to 150 tons lower than the damaged units’ output.

In addition to the changing cooling load of the space, the team found a faulty Control System that had been previously installed and disconnected. The client’s interest in a complex wide control system had been stymied by incomplete training on the system’s abilities and limitations.

Proposed Solutions

The Oliver Mechanical team recommended replacing the rooftop units with units of reduced tonnage to match the current cooling needs of the space. To complete the replacement of the units, the team proposed modifying the existing ductwork to match the capacity of the new units.

In addition to these modifications, the team proposed a new Control System for the entire complex to help the client manage the buildings more efficiently.

The Outcome

The customer accepted the team’s full proposal for unit replacement, duct modification, and installation of controls. As part of the replacement, two 20-ton units were removed completely from the roof. After installing the new controls system, the Oliver Mechanical team completed an Air Balancing of the entire space to ensure maximum comfort and efficiency.