Construction Confidential: Our Dizzy DOAS

Byron Krystad

From Byron Krystad, UUC Director of Operations

As we look toward returning to the church at some point in 2021, I wanted to share with our members and friends a brief background on a post-construction issue that will be a factor in when we return to the building. 

We’ve learned during the pandemic that buildings are only as safe as their indoor air, so HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment must be running in perfect shape to ensure we are using our buildings safely. At UUC, we’re almost to that point. Almost.

A key element of our HVAC equipment is our DOAS (pronounced “doe-as”), which stands for “Dedicated Outdoor Air System.” These components—there are two units: one in the basement and one on the roof of the south wing, which you can see from the parking lot—provide a dedicated source of outdoor air directly to gathering spaces in the building, and then draw the indoor air from those spaces back out of the building in exchange. The outdoor air moved by this system does not pass through a furnace and does not mix with the indoor air it is replacing. It does pass by a pretty snazzy temperature exchange wheel that allows the incoming air to pick up the heat from the outgoing air during winter and the cool from the outgoing air in the summer without mixing, but that’s pretty geeky stuff. Not necessary to know here.

This system is a great investment in the energy efficiency of the building (our original goal) but as it turns out it is also an essential investment in the safety of the building, given the risk of airborne transmission of viruses when circulation and air refresh rates are poor. So good for us! However, the control system we invested in to run these machines has lost control of them. How it lost control of them is a long story involving low-voltage wiring between the basement and the roof and some programming errors that our original subcontractors are working to correct on high priority.

It’s a fussy fix, and we’ll get it corrected. I only want to raise the matter with the congregation because we must get these systems fully controlled and operating consistently before more than a handful of people can be allowed in the building at the same time. We will build this dependency into our upcoming re-entry plans. So when you see references to “the DOAS” in upcoming communication, now you’ll know what it’s all about!

Aren’t buildings fun? If you have any questions about the equipment or the HVAC system or if you’re just curious how we’re managing this important component of the facilities, you can contact me at any time to discuss.

Byron Krystad, Director of Operations
(206) 454-7723

3 Responses

  1. Alice Arrington says:

    Thanks for the update. Modern technology is wonderful, but complicated.

  2. Mason Taylor says:

    Who was the famous Brit. historian who said, “Technology should have stopped with the bicycle”?

  3. Emily Easton - Emmy says:

    THANKS for being there, and thanks for the building air update. Thanks also to the entire staff. You are so important. Please take care of yourselves, one and all.