Project Detail

University HVAC improvements address COVID guidelines

Total Cost
Date Completed


Nichols Hall is a 110-year-old building on the Kansas State University campus, housing classrooms, offices, extensive IT infrastructure and the theater department’s performance venue. Upgrades were required to the decades-old HVAC system to comply with COVID-19 guidelines. The university needed to expedite the assessment, design and construction in order to comply with grant funding deadlines.


Bartlett & West was able to expedite the project through a design-build approach with preselected contractors.

The project began with an evaluation of the ventilation in a performance stage and classrooms. The various challenges uncovered led to two new rooftop-mounted air handling units with corresponding return air fans mounted separately due to physical limitations. The new air handling units included heating and cooling coils with adequate capacities and operating controls to maintain proper ventilation air to the building during occupied periods, but also reduced the ventilation during unoccupied periods for energy efficiency. Additional concerns became apparent with examination of the existing return air pathways, which had to be altered due to the requirement for a return air fan.

This project illustrates how the components of HVAC systems are interrelated and how an increase in outside ventilation air required the assessment of steam heating and chilled water cooling coils, fan capacities, chilled water pumps, steam condensate return piping, steam condensate pumps, VAV terminal units, hot water coils, HVAC controls and airflow paths.


The Bartlett & West team addressed the interaction between all these HVAC components, and the need to investigate them to understand if any additional improvements are required due to changes in the airflow and ventilation components. Without investigating all these areas, the building could have experienced excessive air pressures (positive and negative), introduction of humid air and mold into the building, over-cooling in areas, inadequate heat in areas, inadequate steam condensate piping and inadequate controls to implement the improvements for outside air.

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