Diefenbunker installs new HVAC equipment underground

Special to WC Online

CARP – On Monday, March 20, 2023, passersby may have noticed a sky-high crane at the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum lifting large equipment along the bunker hillside.

A photo of a crane lifting an HVAC unit.
A crane lifts a large HVAC unit in to the Diefenbunker on March 20. Courtesy the Diefenbunker

“Due to generous funding we have received through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program – Community, Culture and Recreation Stream, we have been able to make huge strides over the last few years towards upgrading critical infrastructure within the museum to ensure the preservation of this unique Cold War artifact,” Diefenbunker staff released in a statement April 5. “We are grateful to the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for funding a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) project.”

Through this project, Diefenbunker staff have pursued necessary upgrades to the bunker’s aging air ventilation system. Upgrades to this 60-year-old system were required in order to improve temperature and humidity control and air flow. A new HVAC system will allow the Diefenbunker to bring clean, demand-controlled, and conditioned air into the building.  

The Diefenbunker team has been working closely with engineering firm Morrison Hershfield and contractor Modern Niagara to install a makeup air handling unit. The purpose of this unit is to bring in fresh, tempered air from outside which is then heated to room temperature and used to replenish the existing air that cannot be recirculated. The conditioned air is distributed via the ductwork, while the existing air is removed from the building through exhaust fans. The makeup air handling unit also helps to equalize pressure throughout the building. With the aid of the 197-foot (60 metres) crane, this installation was done as non-invasively as possible in order to maintain the building’s historical integrity. Other important work with associated duct and ventilation systems is being done to integrate the new equipment with existing functional systems in the bunker’s machine room. 

“With the diligent assistance of our engineering firm and contractor, we have been able to document all changes being made to the bunker for historical purposes,” staff said.

Other projects this funding will pay for include upgrades to washrooms, including installing a second accessible washroom; critical electrical upgrades; the installation of accessible lift devices in the main stairwell; and an automatic door opener at the front entrance to increase the museum’s accessibility for visitors.

“We anticipate the completion of this important HVAC project this spring, providing our staff and visitors with improved air quality and climate control throughout the museum,” staff said.

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