Sweatin' to the beat

December 01, 2002 |

When members enter the Rush Fitness Complex in Knoxville, Tenn., president and CEO Larry Gurney wants them to get an endorphin rush from the physical challenges that await them, not a rush of air from the HVAC system.

"Indoor air quality is as important as the visual presentation when providing a pleasant atmosphere for members to work out," says Gurney, who co-founded the center in 2001.

The 400,000-sq.-ft. former Service Merchandise store was equipped with 20-year-old, drafty metal ductwork. When Gurney turned it into a $1.5 million state-of-the-art athletic facility, he chose fabric air dispersion systems to distribute even, draft-free air flow. The 750 linear feet of Comfort-Flow fabric duct by Dubuque, Iowa-based DuctSox ranges from 12 to 24 inches in diameter and supplies 90% of the air flow; the remaining 10% flows through the fabric's permeable texture itself.

According to mechanical contractor Michael Hamil, vice-president of Cherokee Millwright in Maryville, Tenn., the fabric ducts are 90% lighter and hang from suspension cables in the ceiling, making installation easier and cheaper as well.

Fabric ducts provide larger air volume with low air velocity and draft-free distribution. Low operating pressure, uniform velocity, and condensation prevention are among its benefits. The fabric can be easily laundered and naturally retards the development of mold and bacteria.

New rooftop HVAC systems, including 12 Trane Voyager Series rooftop units, supply make-up air at a rate of 49,000 cfm. Approximately 25% of the make-up air supplied to the facility is outside air, as specified by consultant Engineering Services Group, Knoxville.

Because the fabric ducts combine outside air with even air distribution inside, they help eliminate odors associated with health clubs, swimming pools, schools, meat-packing houses, and manufacturing plants.

Gurney plans to use fabric ducts when expanding his center into a fitness chain, adding four locations in the next year.

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