Frequently Asked Questions about the HVAC Project

How did the church get the money for air-conditioning?

Robert "Coz" Coslett, our well-loved organist for almost 40 years, left half of his estate to our church with the intent of providing air-conditioning. Planned Giving Committee members have been wrestling with the complexities of making this happen since his death on December 25, 2012.

What’s new now?

Planned Giving members have achieved a significant milestone after years of diligent work. They have bids that are well within the limits of Coz' bequest and they have selected contractors to perform the HVAC and associated electrical work. Coz' generous gift to our church will provide air conditioning to the sanctuary core, including the narthex, lobby, women’s restroom, Worship & Wonder, and Plambeck Room.

What will be included in this project?

  • Sanctuary: Four new air conditioning units and four new furnaces will be installed to serve the sanctuary. We expect the a/c units to be on the southeast corner --in front of the sanctuary building, behind the tree -- beyond the "band door" exit from the sanctuary – and the furnace units will be in the basement.
  • Plambeck Room, Worship and Wonder Room, Lobby area, Women’s Restroom: A new furnace and air conditioning unit will be installed to serve this area.

We must provide air-conditioning to the entire area from the sanctuary to the Plambeck Room to effectively cool the building. The sanctuary opens up to the lobby area; that area must be air-conditioned so the sanctuary system is not overtaxed trying to cool a larger area than it is designed to serve.  The lobby area is served by equipment that also serves the Plambeck Room and the Worship & Wonder Room, so those rooms will also be air-conditioned. The project also includes electrical work to support the new equipment.

Because the project includes both heating and air conditioning, you'll often hear it referred to as the "HVAC project" -- Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning.

Running air conditioning can be expensive -- what will this do to our utility bills?

Yes, it can be expensive to run air conditioning units, but we believe this will be offset in two ways. First, we will be getting more energy-efficient furnaces, which we hope will reduce our gas usage in the winter and offset some of the higher electrical usage in the summer. We will watch our usage to see what changes occur in our winter gas and summer electrical usage. Second, the Planned Giving Committee has set aside funding from Coz' bequest to help pay for any increased electrical use due to the new air conditioning.

We need work on our roofs. Why can’t we use this money for that?

Coz specifically stated that he wanted to air-condition the church. When a donor or a testator (someone who leaves us something in their will) gives to the church for a specific purpose, it is our responsibility to follow their stated wishes.

Will the Admin Council or the Congregation vote on this project?

Based on our bylaws and the Policy, neither the Admin Council nor the Congregation vote on such bequests – and this is by design. Article XI, paragraph F of our bylaws reads,

"The Planned Giving Committee shall be responsible for administering memorial funds and other funds that may be given to the church as memorials and special bequests as outlined in the Planned Giving Policy of the Church."

This means that gifts such as Coz' bequest fall under the purview of the Planned Giving Committee, which is responsible for administering such funds in accordance with the Planned Giving Policy. The following paragraph applies to Coz' generous bequest (from the Planned Giving Policy as adopted in November, 2010):

3.3    If a donor or testator designates the particular purpose for which a gift is to be used, the funds shall, so far as is practicable in the judgment of the Committee, be disposed of in accordance with such designation.

It's important to note the use of the word "practicable" here. "Practicable" means "able to be done or put into practice successfully". According to the Planned Giving Policy, therefore, if the Planned Giving Committee determines that there is sufficient money available in Coz' bequest and all relevant construction issues can be addressed to provide air conditioning, then we will have air conditioning.

So -- to summarize: the bylaws say that the Planned Giving Committee administers gifts such as Coz' bequest in accordance with the policy. The Planned Giving Policy says that if it's practicable to fulfill the donor's request, then that's what will be done.

The Planned Giving Policy ensures that when a donor wants their money used in a certain way, the church will fulfill their wishes. It is critically important that we, as the church, do everything we can to abide by the wishes of our donors so future donors will continue to trust that we will respect their wishes.

Our bylaws require projects costing more $5,000 to be approved by the congregation. Does that requirement apply to this project?

The $5,000 limit in the bylaws is in Article XI, paragraph D2 -- a few paragraphs above the one about Planned Giving. This clause is located in the main section describing the responsibilities of the Finance Ministry Team, and specifically in the sub-paragraph which discusses the annual budget. That clause reads, "Authority of the Administrative Council to approve the expenditure of monies over and above the approved budget shall be limited to $5,000 for any item and/or project that may otherwise be approved by the Administrative Council. Items and/or projects exceeding $5,000, and not included in the approved budget, shall require the prior approval of the Membership."

This clause only applies to funds approved by the Admin Council, however. Bequest funds are not administered by the Admin Council and thus are not subject to this clause; the sole authority to oversee bequests and memorial gifts lies with Planned Giving as noted above.

Several Planned Giving projects in the recent past exceeded $5,000 and did not require Admin Council or Congregational approval:

  • Mosaic cross given in memory of Ryan Morgan
  • Fellowship Hall lighting and ceiling tiles, given in memory of Bonnie & Bob Runyon
  • Large sanctuary fans, covered by Coz’ bequest
  • New sanctuary TV screens, which came from undesignated memorial gifts

Coz passed away more than 5 years ago. Why did it take so long to get to this point?

First, it took almost 2 years to receive the entirety of his bequest, and until all of the money was received, the committee didn't know exactly how much the bequest included. They were able to examine various options before the funding was available, but they certainly couldn't make any decisions without knowing what they had to work with. Second, since the air conditioning was for the sanctuary core, it was determined that the air conditioning would be done concurrently with the sanctuary renovation/CIC Project; this meant that the design work, architectural drawings, and permits were all done jointly with that effort. Quoting from the Planned Giving report, "The HVAC project stalled due to lack of any progress in getting bids for the HVAC and related electrical work. The problems with the CIC project took precedence, and the more the CIC project was delayed the farther off the HVAC work was pushed out."

Things are a little up in the air with the interim period – would it make sense to wait?

The Planned Giving Committee discussed this possibility at length, and decided that waiting would present a significant risk that the project could not be accomplished in the future and would be a waste of design and planning costs already incurred. We will mention a few of the many factors considered.  First, the budget for the work is pretty tight as it is. If we wait, it is highly likely that equipment and labor prices will increase to the point where we could no longer afford the project. Also, the current permit expires for good in August 2019.  We have extended it numerous times, but it cannot be extended beyond that date. If we delay until after our permit expires, we would have to comply with more recent regulations, pay for new permits, and incur additional costs to have the plans redrawn, which would cost so much more that we wouldn’t be able to afford the work. Beyond that, there is a complicated history and knowledge base related to this project that the current PG Committee members and the selected contractors have developed over the course of time.  Delaying the project any longer adds to the risk of losing that critically important knowledge base, and essentially causing a “complete restart” of the project.  It could be a year or more before a new minister is hired, and realistically at least a few years after that before any real changes (whatever they might be) are apt to be implemented.

When will work start? How long is construction expected to last?

It’s a little too early to say – we will publicize what we know about the project schedule after we get more information from the contractors.

What is the total budget for the HVAC work? How much is anticipated to remain to pay utility bills?

The original HVAC budget was set at $250,000. The current budget based on recent bids and with the reduced scope of electrical work is $233,000, of which about $45,500 has already been spent.

In addition to the $233,000 projected equipment installation and electrical work costs, Planned Giving set aside about $27,500 as an operating reserve fund to cover higher electric usage in the future due to the new a/c units.

This leaves approximately $29,000 in estate funds as an additional construction contingency, of which about $15,000 is currently on loan to the church for completion of the capital project.

Other things related to the project:

  • A temporary electrical shutdown will be required on one day for a few hours.  We will work with the contractors to minimize this disruption as much as possible for our tenants, including the Montessori school, SHARE, and the Bridge Club.
  • The contractor will attempt to get approval from the City of Concord to change the permitted plan design so the air conditioning units can be located on the southeast corner in front of the sanctuary building, behind the tree.  If the City will not approve that change, then the four air conditioning units will be located on the southwest side of the sanctuary, near the deacon area door by the main walkway.  In either case, they will be fully enclosed in a cage with landscaping around the cage.
  • Some interior drywall changes will be needed in the front of the sanctuary, in the Plambeck Room, Lobby, and/or the Worship & Wonder Room. 
  • Although the new furnaces will be more energy efficient, we have been told by the HVAC contractor that this will not equate to quieter operation. In fact, they may be slightly louder when running. This is due to limits of the original ductwork (which would be cost-prohibitive to replace).
  • The limits of the existing ductwork also will impact the effectiveness of the air conditioning. We don't expect the temperatures in the sanctuary to be all the way down to 70 degrees on really hot days, but we do expect to be significantly more comfortable with the combination of the air conditioning and the large fans on those blistering hot days.

Will any other work be done with Coz’ bequest?

Once the HVAC work is complete and all final costs are known, the PG Committee will evaluate whether there are any funds remaining that could be used to make the sanctuary core area spaces more comfortable or more efficient to cool in the warmer months.