Friday, May 23, 2014

“Outsulating” the Ridgway Library

In a continuing effort to maintain our nearly 50-year-old building so that it will continue to meet our needs for many years to come, we have been making a series of capital improvements. Currently two major projects are underway, partially supported by a RACP (Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program) grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Contractors from Domus Construction are insulating the stack floors of our building from the outside in order to greatly increase our energy efficiency. When the building was constructed (in the days of 29-cent gasoline!) no vapor barrier or insulation of any kind was used – just cinder blocks and either cast concrete panels (on the front and back facades) or brick (on the sides). The illustration shows how we are adding a 5-inch layer of “outsulation” to floors three through seven. Once the “top coat” is applied to the insulation material, the appearance of the building will be pretty much the same as it has always been (an important consideration to admirers of mid-twentieth-century brutalist architecture!). But while looking about the same, the building will be much better suited to the storage of our priceless collections – and we will save significantly on energy costs into the bargain.

The second project involves the Limbach Company (which has been maintaining our mechanical systems since the building went up) replacing the old pneumatic controls governing our HVAC system with a digital control system. The new equipment will enable us to monitor the conditions throughout the building much more easily and accurately (and even remotely) and adjust the equipment as necessary to ensure the most stable and comfortable environment for all the “residents” of the building (both animate and inanimate).

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