Chapter 2: Courthouse Programming
When selecting mechanical equipment for courthouses, the following three factors
must be considered: initial cost, operating cost, and flexibility of control. The selection
of central plant equipment has a major impact on all three factors, particularly initial
cost and operating cost, predominately in the cooling cycle. The selection of
space-conditioning equipment has the greatest impact on flexibility of control.
Along with temperature, the humidity level of a space impacts occupants' comfort.
Humidity control is also critical in the care and preservation of furnishings, books, and
other court items. Additional care must be taken in areas where large groups of
people assemble and in climates of extreme natural humidity. Humidity can easily be
added as needed through properly-sized and placed humidification equipment.
The number of air-handling units directly influences the flexibility of the building's
HVAC system, but it is also the greatest cost consideration. Zoning of air-handling
systems must be in direct proportion to the occupancy of the spaces. The use of
variable air volume (VAV) systems, which provide off-hours flexibility as well as
acoustical advantages, must be considered. VAV systems add flexibility to any system
with the capacity for more than a few thousand cubic feet of air per minute. Additional
humidity control can be obtained through a VAV terminal equipped with a reheat.
If there will be rapid, considerable changes in occupancy, consider providing a
"normal" HVAC system for average expected use and a supplementary booster
air-handling unit with 100% air circulation and cooling for higher occupancy loads.
This simplifies control and saves energy.
If the building's HVAC system requires flexibility and acoustics to be considered first,
the system must be properly tested and balanced to ensure optimum performance.
During balancing, conditions are often uncovered that can significantly impact overall
performance, the quality of installation, and the accuracy of design limits. It can be
advantageous for GSA to employ a contractor, independent of the construction and
design team, to thoroughly test and balance all mechanical systems in accordance with
Where possible, quality catalog light fixtures must be used instead of special-order or
custom fixtures. Additionally, the emerging technology of highly efficient, compact
fluorescent lamps should be considered. These lamps provide multiple light level
control while maintaining energy efficiency. Multiple switches must be considered for
spaces with exterior windows to control light levels and conserve energy.