J&P Cycles in Ormond Beach, Fla., wanted to ensure customers stayed comfortable when shopping at the 35,000-square-foot store. Image courtesy of DuctSox.

J&P Cycles may be a seller of aftermarket motorcycle parts, but the $5 million retail store’s HVAC system was anything but an afterthought. J&P Cycles in Ormond Beach, Fla., is part of Destination Daytona, a 150-acre, $50 million mega complex of motorcycle-related retailers anchored by a Harley-Davidson dealership that includes several bars and restaurants with motorcycle themes and a 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.

The 35,000-square-foot J&P outlet is the most visible in the company, which is primarily a catalog business based in Anamosa, Iowa.

Ductwork isn’t something many store operators give much thought to, but officials involved with this project were different. The design team, which included company President John Parham, director of real estate Dennis Walters, principal Steven Wierzbowski with MekusTanager in Chicago and Rob Hall, president of Hall Architectural Associates Inc. in Post Orange, Fla., wanted fabric duct. The group had seen the installation at another nearby dealership, Bruce Rossmeyer’s Harley-Davidson.

An up-close look at two duct runs inside J&P’s store. The ductwork’s porosity and diffusers ensure even airflow. Image courtesy of DuctSox.

Attention to details

“Many retailer designers don’t pay attention to fabric ductwork, but in an exposed ceiling, it can be as important as the flooring choice, color scheme, store fixtures or the layout,” said Wierzbowski, a designer of 94 Harley dealerships around the world. “Fabric allows for many color choices, keeps dust from accumulating and it doesn’t need periodic painting.”

Wierzbowski and other designers wanted an industrial look that exposed as many components as possible, including steel girders, trusses, bolts, beams - and ductwork.

For the Florida cycle dealership, the fact that fabric duct does not lead to condensation was a major plus. The year-round high-humidity levels common in the Sunshine State can cause mold, mildew and other indoor air quality problems, which sometimes affect metal ductwork.

That could have been a big problem at J&P, Wierzbowski said.

“With the doors continually opening during their special events, metal duct would attract the humid outside air and it could become a rainforest environment in there,” he said.

The project’s mechanical engineer, Joseph Berger of D.G Meyer Inc. in Daytona Beach, Fla., selected Sedona Xm fabric duct. It doesn’t condense moisture and has an anti-microbial chemical applied to reduce the incidence of mold and mildew.

There was one drawback to the fabric duct - when HVAC equipment isn’t running, it deflates. Berger solved the problem by selecting DuctSox’s new suspension system, which uses aluminum hangers, each with three hanging clips in certain positions. These, combined with suspension cables, help the ductwork appear mostly inflated even when the air handlers aren’t running.

Besides appearance, other benefits include linear diffusers and small holes in the duct that ensure even airflow and eliminate drafts.

Fabric ductwork, which hangs off the ceiling at J&P Cycles, was used to keep the motorcycle accessories store from suffering from the condensation problems common in hot and humid Florida. Image courtesy of DuctSox.

Unusual arrangements

The fabric duct connects to a mechanical system different than many used in retail stores. A typical store of J&P’s size would require up to two oversized rooftop HVAC units to accommodate the huge heat loads created when the building is full. But such an arrangement wastes substantial energy and money the rest of the year.

Another option would be installing small units for everyday use, but that would cause problems as well, Berger said.

“If people feel uncomfortable, they’ll leave, which results in the loss of a potential sale,” he said.

That’s why he decided to install four 20-ton Carrier Corp. rooftop units, but only run air conditioning on two of them during normal business hours. The others re-circulate air.  Carbon dioxide sensors let the other units know when to run in air-conditioning mode.

To keep the building’s air pressure correct, motor-controlled exhaust fans from Springfield, Mo.-based Loren Cook Inc. are used.

The whole system is run by a Carrier building-automation system. Storage facilities are cooled by a Daikin USA high-efficiency mini-split system.