Historic home gets federally-funded HVAC reno
December 1, 2015 | By BETH MCKAY
Retrofitting the first prime minister's 19th century home has its challenges.
With all the media attention surrounding 24 Sussex Dr., HPAC staff thought it would be interesting to check out another heritage structure that has mechanical restorations currently underway.
In July 2015, Bellevue House in Kingston, ON received $54,000 of federal funding to be put towards a new HVAC system. The historical building, which was once home to Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, was built in the 1840s – making the installation of 20th century technology slightly complicated.
“The heating and cooling system for Bellevue House was made up of a two pipe system with two radiators and six cabinet-style fan coil units,” said Maria Offin, project manager and technical officer for Georgian Bay and Ontario East Field Unit at Parks Canada. “These units supplied heating or cooling water from the hot boiler or chiller, located in the Visitor Centre, through buried supply and return pipework,” she said. Offin further explained that the two-pipe system would have to be switched between heating and cooling using valves located in the Visitor Centre mechanical room.
The new system will separate Bellevue House from the Visitor Centre to create two stand-alone systems and the controls in the house will be upgraded to a Direct Digital Control (DDC) system. Also, an exterior structure will be built to contain a boiler for the Bellevue House, while a new chiller will be located outdoors.
The HVAC system has been designed by Miriton Ltd. Although construction began on November 9, 2015, Johnnie Chahwan, Miriton’s business director and his team, have been working on .this project for over a year. He says they have not run into many difficulties to date because such a large portion of this project was planning the layout and preparing for potential challenges.
“We have been trying to keep the intrusion on the house to a minimum, so we’ve had to come up with some creative ideas,” said Kellen Wadden, mechanical engineer and project manager. Wadden says a lot of the HVAC work is actually being done on the outside of the house, protecting the heritage home from much internal construction.
Additionally, Parks Canada is restricted by archaeological factors, as well as the location of the new equipment and utility lines. Offin said that installation for the Bellevue House project must also follow the Guidelines for Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, requiring them to re-use the existing elements of the heating system. For example, part of the project will be re-furbishing the old fan coil units which is part of the contractor work.
If all goes to plan, the installation should be complete by the end of January 2016, and ready for tours in the spring.
Other historical renovations may not have the star status of 24 Sussex Dr., but certainly have the political backstory and antiquated HVAC system to rival the Official Residence. Other heritage renovations in Ontario under Parks Canada include structural repairs to Fort Henry, which is also located in Kingston, ON. Another includes the Laurier House, former residence of both Sir Wilfred Laurier and Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, located in Ottawa, ON.