Nantucket Atheneum

Nantucket Atheneum

Project Details

Nantucket Atheneum

Nantucket, MA
  • Mechanical (HVAC)
  • Electrical
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A Much-Needed HVAC Update Within a Historic Treasure


Nantucket’s Historic Public Library

The Nantucket Atheneum is a public library in Nantucket, Massachusetts. The library stems from the 1827 merger of two organizations —  the Nantucket Mechanics Social Library and the Columbian Library Society — which created the Universal Library Association.

The Universal Library Association established its headquarters at the Universalist Church on the corner of Federal Street and India Street. The original building succumbed to the Great Fire of 1846, but by 1847, the current 8,230-square-foot structure took its place on the same grounds. In 1900, the Atheneum became a free public library.

As one of Nantucket Island’s oldest buildings, it required upgrades in the late 20th century and into the 21st century. CSI Engineering played a significant role in updating the Atheneum’s heating system and establishing a cooling system for the first time.

Key Upgrades to the Nation’s Oldest Library

As the oldest library in the United States, the Nantucket Atheneum had a rudimentary HVAC infrastructure. The system in place warmed the building by burning fossil fuels and heating water. The library lacked an air conditioning system before our work. We designed a variable refrigerant system to replace the existing hot water radiators.

Variable refrigerant systems feature one central unit that connects to multiple smaller units around the building through small pipes. The main unit uses inverted compressors within a heat recovery system to simultaneously or individually produce hot and cold air. The variable refrigerant system we developed improved the building’s heat while adding air conditioning for the first time.

CSI Engineering’s Variable Refrigerant System Design Process

We exercised the full extent of our design and mechanical engineering capabilities when completing work with the Nantucket Atheneum. Our designers inspected the facility to develop an efficient heating and cooling system. We determined a variable refrigerant system would produce the best results for the building.

We completed the project in two phases. The first phase addressed the main historic building, while the second phase addressed a small addition the client planned.

Seamless Comfort and Energy Efficiency Improvements

Updating the air conditioning and heating systems in a historic building is a multifaceted improvement. Staff and guests now enjoy greater comfort during Massachusetts’ hot summer and frigid winters. Leaving the preexisting system ensures consistent climate control if the new system loses power. Meanwhile, the library has since seen a 30% reduction in energy costs.

We achieved these improvements while keeping the building’s historical aesthetic intact. Variant refrigerant systems provide large-scale heating and cooling without ducts, eliminating the need for substantial building renovations.

Discuss Your Project With CSI Engineering

Our work with the Nantucket Atheneum established a lasting improvement to one of the nation’s oldest historical sites. CSI Engineering embraces each client’s unique needs to design and engineer efficient solutions. We encourage you to request a portfolio for more in-depth examples of our past work or contact us online to request service.

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