As preparations heated up for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, the outdoor climate also sizzled: The Mile High City experienced a record streak of 90+°F days, with temperatures reaching as high as 104°F. But FBI and Secret Service operatives working in the area remained cool in their command centers, thanks to a fleet of portable air conditioners supplied by Atlas Sales & Rentals, Inc. and installed by U.S. Engineering Company's Denver office.
Steven O'Day, a project manager with U.S. Engineering, reports: "Around 90 days prior to the convention, the FBI and Secret Service planned to occupy various locations including the Federal Centers downtown and outside the city. These facilities would be used for massive communications and security operations. Some areas would be occupied by as many as 60 agents and equivalent numbers of computer monitors and other electronics. We knew this level of activity would generate very heavy heat loads, and supplemental portable cooling was the logical solution."
O'Day met with government representatives in mid-March to review occupancy plans. Very tight security at the venues placed some restrictions on where the cooling equipment could be located and also had to be factored into the planning. Using this input, U.S. Engineering calculated heat loads, determined the appropriate cooling tonnage to serve each area, and designed the required ductwork. "We only had about six weeks from the initial meeting date to final installation, so everything had to be done on a fast-track schedule," he notes.
The cooling equipment selected for the job included about 30 portable air conditioners from Atlas Sales & Rentals that ranged from 1 - 12 tons each in cooling capacity. The largest units were placed outside the command centers and hard-ducted using nearly 200 ft of ductwork in split runs. 7.5-ton units were installed adjacent to the video security area, and smaller units (1-5 tons) with either hard ducting or "snorkel packs" were used to serve conference rooms and similar areas.
O'Day reports that delivery and installation went smoothly, and the portable coolers performed without a glitch throughout the summer. "On the Friday night before the convention, one unit went down, not because of equipment failure but due to human error," says O'Day. "Atlas immediately delivered a spare unit to the site and got it up and running right away. Even though it turned out the cooler that went down was working fine, we kept the backup unit onsite as a precaution."
He summarizes: "Despite the record heat, the portable air conditioners from Atlas really did the job, maintaining 68°F temperatures to protect critical staff and equipment. We were very pleased with how it turned out."
Atlas supplied 25-30 additional portable machines for comfort and equipment protection in locations around the Pepsi Center during the week of the Democratic National Convention. According to Atlas Denver office manager Dave Mann, these units served media equipment rooms as well as tented hospitality and staging areas outside the Pepsi Center. "We were receiving daily calls for added equipment, and we brought these units to the site as needed to comply with the ongoing requests," Mann notes. The mechanical contractor for this portion of the project was Trautman & Shreve, Denver.