Olmsted Falls eyes two new HVAC units using NOPEC grant funds

OLMSTED FALLS, Ohio — Considering that the clock is ticking on aging rooftop HVAC units on top of the administration building, Olmsted Falls officials are replacing two this year with new 5-ton, energy-efficient models.

The city is earmarking its recently awarded $25,985 Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) community grant to pay for the expenditure, which should nearly cover the cost of two units.

“We use NOPEC grants for energy-saving projects,” Mayor James Graven said. “The new AC units have a longer life span, better warranties and smarter technology, which will ultimately save the city money in lower utility costs.”

Olmsted Falls Service Director Joe Borczuch said the city used a portion of 2021 NOPEC funds to replace one HVAC unit.

“We have 21 rooftop units up there and only five or six have been replaced,” Borczuch said. “When we’re able, we start to replace them because they’re out of date and some have failed or we can’t get parts for them anymore.”

All of the older HVAC units, which are more than 20 years old, have a life expectancy of between 11 and 15 years.

“Some are closer to their last legs working-wise,” Borczuch said. “It’s time to replace them before they do fail during those times where you get a really hot summer. Then, all of a sudden, a unit fails. That puts you behind the eight ball.

“So we’re trying to stay ahead of schedule on things and get them taken care of as we’re able to with the funds that come in.”

The NOPEC grant is for energy efficiency and/or energy infrastructure projects in the community. Specifically, the funds can be spent on projects related to solar energy, lighting, energy-efficient doors, windows and roof improvements.

In recent years, Olmsted Falls used its NOPEC funding to replace exterior doors — with added energy efficiency — at City Hall, the police station and the firehouse.

Originally constructed in the early 1900s, the administration building includes City Hall, the police department, law department, finance department, senior center and Christians in Action food pantry.

As for the two new HVAC units, which require council approval, the service director said he hopes to have them fully installed by the summer, but fears pandemic-related supply chain issues could be an issue.

Also looming is the potential of an old HVAC unit failing.

“We do have other money budgeted in case something does fail,” Borczuch said. “We do have a contingency plan, per se, and we do our work as needed. We keep chipping away until we can get them all replaced.

“We’re constantly looking at ways to save money there at city hall. If we can do it with outside dollars and have better quality heating and AC, we’ll do it.”

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