Fort Johnson continually works to upgrade, replace HVAC systems

By Angie ThorneSeptember 12, 2023

Fort Johnson continually works to upgrade, replace HAVC systems
An example of an HVAC unit at Fort Johnson. (Photo Credit: Angie Thorne) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT JOHNSON, La. — Louisiana is tough on air conditioning systems and this summer’s heat is even more intense than the norm. But Fort Johnson’s Directorate of Public Works not only takes the required proactive steps to ensure the installation’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems perform as designed, but also assures the life-cycle replacement of systems or components when needed.

Russell Castillo, DPW Engineering Division chief, said HVAC systems fail unexpectedly, and when that happens, sustainment and restoration projects are required to execute major repairs and replacements to HVAC components.

“These types of efforts are not quick undertakings. Funding can take a few years to acquire through planning and annual program reviews for the major HVAC restorations. In addition, smaller sustainment funded repairs compete with the limited sustainment received each year. After funding is obtained or earmarked, the DPW Engineering team is tasked with developing the acquisition strategy and documents required to solicit and award the repair projects,” Castillo said.

Nathan Jernigan, DPW director, said Fort Johnson’s DPW Engineering team provides an incredible in-house capability, expertly providing meaningful solutions to complex problem sets that come with facility HVAC systems and infrastructure. 

“Our team of engineering professionals play a critical role in the design, construction and renovation of facility HVAC systems, ensuring projects account for efficiencies, reliability, operability and maintainability of all aspects of the systems.  Each of the dedicated professionals on the team take to heart the importance of the work that each performs, understanding that in the Louisiana climate, the HVAC system is one of the most important systems in a facility,” said Jernigan.   

An example of some of the current major HVAC facility restorations includes the Home of Heroes Soldier Recreation Center, buildings for 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, 5th Aviation Regiment and Operations group, as well as the Post Exchange.

“These efforts can take longer than expected due to material procurement lead times and manpower shortages, which at times results in multi-year efforts to repair or replace HVAC systems,” Castillo said. “This creates a challenge for both DPW and the tenant unit occupying these facilities. Units are required, in most cases, to obtain their own swing space within their existing footprint due to limited administration space available on the installation. In the short term, this can be tough for the impacted units, but the end result will be a new and improved HVAC system when the unit returns to their facility after restorations are complete.” 

The DPW Engineering team understands Fort Johnson’s senior commander’s and garrison commander’s number one priority is people, and as part of that priority, it’s critical that people employed on the installation have a working environment conducive to meeting their mission. 

“This is why our Engineering Division is currently executing approximately $11.3 million in HVAC repairs at 11 facilities, and concurrently, the team is working pre-award HVAC project packages for an additional 33 facilities, anticipated to begin this winter and continue through 2024.  This level of investment, spearheaded by our senior commander and garrison commander, amplifies the importance of ensuring our garrison facility HVAC systems are adequately sustained,” Jernigan said.

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