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Q&A Session with Brad Wallace

Fast Facts About Brad

Discipline: Engineering

Hometown: Lebanon, IN

Education: ITT Technical Institute

Favorite Place on Mass Ave: Bru Burger or Condado

 

 

Brad Wallace, senior HVAC mechanical designer, is a country boy at heart. He’s an open book and is almost constantly smiling. Learn more about him.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on my family farm in Lebanon, Indiana. I still live in the town and am very close with my family—my younger sister, her husband and four sons, and my parents. After attending ITT for a two-year Associates Degree in Architectural Engineering, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do; I landed a job with a local mechanical contractor. The guys that did the installations took me under their wing and showed me what to do and what not to do when designing systems. I really learned a lot from them, and they shaped the way I design systems today.

 

Brad’s Farm

 

What sparked your interest in engineering?

When I was a little kid, I always enjoyed motorcycles and cars. My dad bought my first car, a Mustang Cobra, when I was 15. All I wanted to do was work on the engine of that car. I was always interested in how things work; I wanted to see, touch, and build.

 

What is a lesson you’ve carried throughout your career?

My very first day working my first job out of school, my boss gave me a toolbox and told me to carry it up the straight ladder to the mechanical equipment. I am not a big fan of heights; it was one of the scariest moments of my life. I remember my boss making the comment, “I don’t know where your future will go, but if you can ever influence someone to put stairs up to a mechanical room, that will make a difference.” Now, when I am designing a system, I think about what it takes to perform maintenance on my systems.

 

Who or what has motivated you?

Growing up, I had a school teacher who told me I would never amount to anything. I can’t tell you how many times I used that to motivate me. I never wanted to prove anything to her, but I knew that she was wrong and I proved it to myself.

 

What do you do in your free time?

I spend my free time with my family and dogs. We have a 200-acre farm west of Lebanon. I grew up there and still help my parents with the upkeep and mowing. I love mowing in the evenings. I see and smell things there that you just don’t have in town; my mind goes back to times when I was a kid with my grandparents.

I also love snowmobiling in the mountains of Colorado. Between my brother-in-law, my nephews, and me, we have nine snowmobiles. We don’t get to ride much around here but try to ride in Michigan as much as we can. But through all our adventures, the mountains of Colorado remain my favorite.

 

Brad and Some of His Family

 

What is a hobby or issue you are passionate about?

Animal abuse—primarily with dogs and cats. I have a bunch of Facebook friends from rescues and seeing the abuse of animals is sickening. I want the public to know that there is an issue and we need to fix the problem. There are a lot of good dogs out there looking for homes. Just last week, I adopted a pitbull from a kill shelter, Brody. He was a stray, off and on the euthanasia list for six months. The volunteers just believed that someone was going to come and rescue him.

 

Brad and His Rescue Pitbull, Brody

 

What’s your favorite Indy spot?

To me, the War Memorial is the best-kept secret in the city. Several years ago Wayne Schmidt (Schmidt Associates Founder) took a group over to it as a type of field trip. Before then, I had no idea what was inside, even though I drove by it daily. After I went through and saw the museum and the Memorial upstairs, I was amazed. I always tell people they need to check it out.

 

 

A Word from Our Owners – St. Joan of Arc Church

Molly Ellsworth

Molly Ellsworth has been the Parish Business Manager at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church for eight years and served various churches in Indianapolis; Charleston, SC; and Chicago for 25 years. She earned both undergraduate (B.A. History) and graduate degrees (Master of Leadership Development) from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.

 

 

Schmidt Associates worked with St. Joan of Arc Church on a phased renovation project, which included mechanical system upgrades, accessibility improvements, and interior restorations. Learn more about the first phase of the project here.

St. Joan of Arc

 

What was the goal of the restoration and improvements to St. Joan of Arc?

Our goal was to repair, refurbish, reinforce, and restore. This included a new HVAC system, electrical work, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accommodations, lighting, floors, and restoration of the interior.

We didn’t have air conditioning. In the summer, it was very hot in the church until about November, and then it got cold. Our building would cycle like that continuously and had done so for 85 years. It was becoming too much for the church; you could see the deterioration of the interior. It looked like an ancient Roman church, and not in a good way.

 

Why did you decide to take a phased approach to these projects?

Our 100th anniversary is in 2021, so we wanted to have all of our projects finished by then. We started with the end in mind and worked backwards, initiating the project in 2012.

One of the reasons we used a phased approach was fundraising. We did a five-year fundraising pledge, so we could use the cash from the pledges we were getting before the rest came in. This would allow us to start projects and see results, which would in turn beget more fundraising. We knew in terms of cash flow and archdiocesan fundraising guidelines, this would be easiest for us. We could manage it without taking out a loan.

With this approach, if you end up receiving more funding than you anticipated, just like with a home improvement, you can then get higher-end fixtures than you anticipated or complete additional projects. If you don’t get all of the funding, hopefully you planned accordingly and prioritized the most important projects. As cash comes in later, you can pick back up.

 

Why was planning so far in advance important?

By giving ourselves so much time, we were really able to delve into all the systems and focus in on things that had to get done, things that would be nice to get done, and things that would be an added bonus to get done. That helped shift our brains into “phase mode,” so we were able to easily embrace each phase and do it right and do it well. This meant we were not having to go back and do change orders all the time.

 

How did you sell the projects to parishioners?

St. Joan of Arc Church is beloved on the northside. It’s hard to find someone on the northside who isn’t touched by this church in some fashion. Whether it’s once a year at French Market, or they attended a wedding here, or they got married here, or their parents or grandparents or great grandparents got married here. Having been here for almost 100 years, we’ve touched generations of lives.

It was an easy message. We didn’t initially say we were going to do it in a phased approach, but we did say we would begin once we had enough cash to start the projects. They understood that as soon as we got $1.5 million, we could get air conditioning. When you ask 700 families for air conditioning money in the summer, hopefully you get more than you need! Then the excess from air conditioning can go toward new paint or organ restoration.

 

How have the phased improvements been received?

AC was huge. It used to get so hot in the summer that people would go to other parishes. Last summer, after putting in the new HVAC, we saw a much higher percentage of people stay in the pews over the summer. That was a great win for us.

What they’re all really excited about at this point is the floor. The floor was 90 years old and was falling apart; it was designed to last maybe 20 years. The original design was for a terrazzo floor, and the parish ran out of money when they were building it. We have the opportunity now to finish what the architect and designers had originally intended. Folks are excited to see how it was meant to be.

We moved out of the church at end of May to finish the improvements. Few people have been inside since then. We’ve had some photographers who have been in and are posting on social media, and the response has been huge for us. People are very excited to get back in the church; they’re seeing the pictures, and it’s gorgeous. To see everyone’s excitement building is fantastic.

What is VRF?

VRF (variable refrigerant flow) is a sophisticated HVAC technology.

Invented around 30 years ago, this is known as the “Rolls Royce” of air conditioning systems. The use of the VRF mechanical system can assist in achieving LEED certification for facilities. The basic elements of VRF systems are:

  • Refrigerant liquid is used as the cooling/heating medium, as opposed to chilled water systems. Those chilled water systems use refrigerant to cool/heat the water circulated throughout.
  • Allows one outdoor condensing unit to be connected to multiple indoor evaporators. Each indoor evaporator is controllable by its user, varying the amount of refrigerant being sent to it and the speed of its evaporator fan.
  • Inverter compressors allow lowering power consumption with partial cooling/heating loads.
  • Ability to expand modularly, important when dealing with large projects.

Energy savings for these systems can be up to 55% over comparable unit systems. Ductwork sizes are reduced because conditioned air is not being routed throughout the building, which could also lead to smaller plenum spaces, and potentially reduce the height of the building if designed appropriately.

So how does it work?

A combination of surrounding outside temperatures and inputs from a user (desired temperature) gets calculated into the operation logic inside the system – resulting in optimal power consumption while outputting desired comfort temperatures. The basic steps of this:

  1. Indoor system is turned on by a user via the local remote.
  2. Outdoor system “gets noted” and will start up.
  3. Outdoor temperatures and desired indoor temperature point are examined within the system, the compressor’s output is then increased based on level of demand.
  4. The system then is constantly working to regulate power consumption based on demands of changing conditions (outdoor temperatures and user-desired temperatures).

Overall VRF has proven to be a highly efficient alternative to traditional 4-pipe HVAC systems, resulting in reduced installation and operational costs.