Keeping Your Home Cool during the Sweltering, Summer Months

Converting An Old Factory Into A Sports Facility? What Are Your Best HVAC Options?

by Anthony Graves

If you've recently purchased a defunct or outdated factory building with the intent of converting it to a public sporting facility or small convention center, you may be overwhelmed at the amount of decisions that await you as you attempt to renovate and retrofit this building to fit its new purpose. Choosing the right (or wrong) replacement windows, HVAC system, and even flooring can impact the efficiency of your new building, affecting the amount you'll need to charge vendors and renters to make a profit. Read on to learn more about the unique climate control and ventilation needs of a mixed-use stadium or sports facility, as well as some of the factors you'll want to consider when deciding what type of HVAC system is the best for your new venture.

What makes the HVAC needs of mixed-use facilities or sports stadiums different from other large buildings?

Mixed-use facilities are designed to handle a wide variety of occupants and activities – from contact sports like roller derby or ice hockey to job fairs or even monster truck rallies. Creating an environment that is able to accommodate and toggle between these disparate activities without more than a day or two of preparation time can be much harder than updating a building that is designed to serve just one distinct purpose. Any HVAC system you choose will need to be scalable and able to achieve a wide variety of environmental requirements.

Mixed-use buildings and sports facilities are also made more complicated by their sheer size and the amount of air they can contain. Many facilities are multi-story, with an open floor plan – keeping this air a comfortable temperature while promptly ventilating smoke, exhaust, or other environmental contaminants can require many more moving parts than a smaller single-story building.

For events that draw large crowds (with participants often shouting, sweating, and drinking during the festivities), dehumidification can also be a crucial need – maintaining a humid environment not only interferes with your patrons' comfort, but it can compromise the structural integrity of your building over time. And unlike many other structures, a mixed-use stadium or convention center can frequently go from nearly empty to filled with thousands (or tens of thousands) of bodies within just a few minutes, requiring a responsive and fast-acting cooling system.  

What can you do to improve the efficiency of your building while ensuring it can handle a variety of activities?

Because each of the activities being hosted by your facility will have at least slightly different needs, it's important to have an HVAC system with multiple controls for different parts of the building. Simply turning the thermostat to 70 degrees once interior temperatures start rising isn't likely to have much of an instantaneous effect on an overheated crowd, and you may find that the rest of the building becomes quite chilly while the area in which a crowd is congregated is still uncomfortably warm.

If you're planning to divide your building into one large central arena and a series of locker rooms, restrooms, or offices, you may want to consider installing a strong exhaust fan in the locker rooms and restrooms to assist with the build-up of heat and humidity more common in these areas. You'll also want to consider taking advantage of your ceiling space by installing large paddle fans or exhaust fans that can quickly vent hot air through the roof, reducing the load on your air conditioner. "Indirect" climate control can often be achieved by opening windows to create a cross-breeze in hallways or common areas during temperate times of the year.

Above all, you'll want to remain flexible, especially if you're retrofitting a building that doesn't have existing ductwork. In many cases, you'll be able to achieve your climate control needs without retrofitting your building's entire HVAC system, and you can sometimes even take advantage of natural elements (like sunshine or a cool cross-breeze) to keep your stadium comfortable.   

For more information and advice, it is best to work with a professional heating contractor or HVAC contractor in the area.