Article by Phoenix writer Caitlin Hanratty ’25:
Principal Bro. Kenneth Hoagland, S.M., announced in an email on January 5 that AC units will be making their way to Kellenberg by September 2024.
On January 26, installation of the air handlers, intake grills and duct work began in room 108 of the freshman hallway, visible from the courtyard.
To receive New York State funding for air quality procedures, Kellenberg needed to start right away in order to complete the first phase of work. According to the principal’s email the EANS Funds (Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools), which were made available three years ago, can now be used for labor costs related to school improvements, but the funding must be spent by June 1st.
The New York funding will cover about 20% of the roughly 4.5 million dollar total cost of the project.
To complete the work required for the building-wide air conditioning systems, Kellenberg will be employing electricians, sheet metal workers, carpenters, and an HVAC company, to name a few of the many helping hands that will be needed to achieve this feat.
Kellenberg Alumni Chris Miles ‘07 is working as a liaison for Marlin Mechanical, a company that Kellenberg is collaborating with in regards to the project.
The first phase will include the implementation of variable refrigerant air handlers from Hitachi VRF in each classroom. These air handlers can cool different areas of a large scale building simultaneously. This means that each classroom will have its own thermostat, allowing the students and faculty in each room to change the temperature accordingly.
Along with the variable refrigerant air handlers, the classrooms will also have ionizers, which clean and filter the air and any pollutants or odors.
Next, a main duct will be installed in the rear of each classroom. The necessary piping and electrical connections will have to be made during the summer months in phase two, which will require opening the hallway ceilings to connect the units from the classrooms up onto the roof.
Finally, soffits will be built in the classrooms to cover the air handlers in the ceilings.
As a means of mitigating the possibility of environmental effects, over the Christmas break, Kellenberg completed the installation of new electric solar panels which are harnessing solar energy to power these AC units.
According to Mr. Conrade, “These solar panels are 80 kilowatt bifacial panels, meaning that they receive light from the top, directly from the sun, and from the bottom, from the light reflecting onto the underside of the panels from the white roofing underneath.”
Constructed in the 1960’s, Kellenberg was not built with air conditioning in mind. Inserting air conditioning into rooms and hallways that were not built for it seemed implausible for many years. But rapidly changing times and student health now make climate control necessary since Kellenberg students so often spend more than half their day in the building. Though the challenges are great, Kellenberg recognizes that technological advancements make quality air conditioning achievable.
Mrs. Cameron, the Assistant Principal for Academics, says, “We are hoping to have much more of a counteractive impact on the heat with the implementation of a school-wide air conditioning system. We expect to see an increase in student energy and participation on these hot days.”
While warm May, June and September temperatures may be relieved, the first major crisis that truly inspired the move for air conditioning was the Covid-19 pandemic. When Kellenberg re-opened its doors for in-person classes in September 2020, it was necessary to constantly keep a window open for airflow, no matter how cold or hot the temperature was outside. As society has developed a new understanding and awareness of viruses, these air conditioning units are going to provide healthy amounts of air circulation while maintaining a comfortable temperature for learning.
Junior Shelby Regan says, “I’ve gone to Kellenberg since 6th grade and have seen it through hot summer days and all of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been so amazing to see the accommodations they are making for a more comfortable school environment.”
Another issue that prompted the discussion for filtered air was the dangerous air quality caused by the Canadian wildfires late last school year. For days the air quality affected all students, but especially students with asthmatic issues.
Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Conrade, who is directing the project, says, “Adding air conditioning to the Kellenberg Memorial High School classrooms modernizes educational needs to the 21st century student, and creates an environment conducive to learning.”
The AC is expected to be done in its entirety by August 15.