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Courthouse deals with HVAC issues

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

When the Johnson County Courthouse was constructed in 1958, architect Clarence B Kearfott and contractor, J.E. Green Company, gave little thought to central heating and even less to central air. During this time, oil and gas furnaces were improved and made more efficient, with electricity becoming the critical source of power for building systems. In the 1920s large-scale theaters and auditoriums introduced central air conditioning, and by mid-century forced air systems, which combined heating and air conditioning in the same ductwork set a new standard for comfort and convenience.
Basic heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, composed of compressor drives, chillers, condensers, and furnace, designed for even distribution, began cropping up. Consequently, almost any business or government agency has the potential to realize significant savings by improving its control of HVAC operations and improving the efficiency of the system it uses.
Per state law, the sheriff has charge of the courthouse and its upkeep, unless the county legislative body specially appoints another person for that purpose.
The law specifically directs the sheriff to “prevent trespasses, exclude intruders, and keep it and the grounds attached thereto in order, reporting from time to time the repairs required, and the expense, to the county legislative body.”
While Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester acknowledges and accepts responsibility of the security and maintenance of courthouse, his office is not in the courthouse. It is, for this reason, the county mayor assists in the process. “We inherited this antiquated building,” said Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor, “and find ourselves dealing with a roof in need of repair and sometimes heating and cooling issues.” Taylor, who isn’t sure of the age or installer of the HVAC equipment, reports poor results in having repairs completed on the unit, but has recently tracked down a company familiar with the type of system currently being utilized and plans to meet with a representative next week to discuss the situation.
“I think he will be able to give us a much better overview of what our problems are and how we can successfully make repairs,” said Mayor Taylor.
Usually, building codes and regulations govern building environments, but it’s the occupants that determine whether or not the indoor environmental quality of a public building is acceptable. Complaints about the building being too hot, cool, humid, stuffy, and/or noisy — or complaints arising due to downtime of the HVAC system — interfere with normal operations.